Category Archives: Career Change

Choosing a 70-Hour Workweek

One of the stated advantages of adopting a minimalist lifestyle and running a minimalist business is that you can make enough money to live on while working a lot less than the average person.  Timothy Ferris’s book “The Four-Hour Work Week, shows you exactly how it can be done.  Working less each week frees up time for you to do the things you have passion for the rest of the week.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  We’d all like to knock work out in just a few hours and spend the rest of our time traveling the world or just lounging by the pool, wouldn’t we?  Or would we?

Last June I lost my retail management job.  Even though I may have been losing some of my passion for retail management, I really enjoyed this job.  If I was going to be in retail management, I couldn’t think of a place where I would rather have worked.  Within days of my termination, the mother of one of my co-workers called me with a job offer.

Diane, not her real name, and her husband owned a commercial cleaning business.  Most of their business consisted of cleaning schools, offices, and other businesses in the late evening or overnight hours when they were closed to the public. She offered me some cleaning jobs so I could have some money coming in while I was looking for other work.

Diane was the most “hyper” person I have ever met.  She talked fast, moved fast, and always had somewhere else where she was supposed to be. She often made a point of telling me how little sleep she was getting.  Diane showed me how my wife and I, working as a team, could make as much working for her as I made in my previous job.  I passed on the offer because I could not work at the pace that Diane did, but mostly, because I did not want to spend the next 15 years mopping floors and cleaning toilets.

It would be easy to put Diane down and ridicule her lifestyle.  A 70-hour workweek was probably about average for her.  I don’t know when she would ever be able to get away for a vacation. The pace of her life will probably catch up with her someday.  Before you write off Diane as just another society-created workaholic, let me tell some more things I know about her.

  • Even when it seemed she was very tired, she was always happy.  She never appeared to get down or discouraged.
  • She takes pride in her work.  She sets high standards for herself and those working for her and makes every attempt to satisfy her customer’s needs.
  • She is successful.  I don’t have access to her credit report, but she lived in a nice home and drove nice vehicles.  Her customers referred so much business to her that she had to turn down jobs.
  • She has a big heart.  She contributed to every fund raising activity that we had at my previous job.  She was very generous to us. We were purposely overpaid at times, and offered “bonus jobs” to give us some extra money.
  • She has a strong Christian faith which gives her a real heart for people. I always felt that she was genuinely concerned with how  we were doing.

A 70-hour workweek would not be my choice.  I would prefer to be closer to the 4-hour workweek.  We tend to project our own beliefs unto others and assume that they believe the same way we believe.  Just because I became disenchanted with my lifestyle doesn’t mean that everyone working long hours for someone else is unhappy.  We need to realize that there are many people who are happy working the 9-5, or the 3-11, or overnights.  It’s what they choose to do, and they are happy with their choice. Isn’t that what it is all about?

Which do you choose?

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If your choice is a minimalist lifestyle, or if you want more information about minimalism and minimalist businesses, you will find some great resources on my recommended reading page.  Commit to buy less, own less, and do less by signing the pledge “A Call for Change, Make 2011 the Year of Less”.


If You Want to Win, You Have to Buy a Ticket

Recently my wife and I watched the movie Eat Pray Love.   In the movie the main character, played by Julia Roberts, tells the story of a man who went to church everyday and prayed in front of a statue of his favorite saint that he would win the lottery.  “Please, please, please let me win the lottery,” he prayed day after day after day.  Finally, the saint could take it no longer and made the statue come to life.  “Please, please, please,” said the saint, “buy a ticket.”

Mega Millions tickets

Image via Wikipedia

Like the man in the above story, many of us hope and pray for a better life but do not take the necessary steps to make it happen. We don’t buy the ticket!  Instead, we just wait for something to come along that will bring us the life we desire.  Most of the time we don’t even know what it is we are waiting for.

Where do I get the ticket?

Playing the lottery involves making a lot of decisions.  Do you want to buy your ticket at the convenience store, the local drug store or the big chain grocery store?  What kind of game do you want to play?  You can choose from buying a scratch ticket, playing a state level game like Pick 3, or go for one of the big prizes by playing Powerball or Mega Millions.   If you pick one of the big games, you have to choose the numbers you want to play.  Are you going to play your lucky numbers, or birth dates and anniversaries?  Of course, you can let the computer pick your numbers for you.  Unfortunately, I think most  people let others pick their lot in life for them.

How much do I spend?

Scratch tickets can be purchased in amounts from $1 to $20+ with top prizes ranging from $500 to new cars and trucks.  Powerball type game tickets generally sell for $1 each, but the more tickets you buy, the better your odds are of winning.  Top prizes in the national lottery games can reach 100s of millions of dollars.  Like most things in life, the more you risk, the greater the rewards.

You already have a ticket!

Like deciding which lottery game you want to play, you have to decide what it is you want in life.  Do you want to get out of debt, find a job you enjoy, spend more time with your family, or travel around the world?  Spend some time reflecting on what you want to change in your life.  Like the lottery, once you have decided what you first want to work on, you have to choose how much you want to risk.  Small risks can safely make small positive changes in your life. Bigger risks can lead to even bigger rewards.  Unlike the lottery though, you don’t have to go somewhere else to get your ticket to change.  If you look for it, you will see that you have always had a ticket to change your life,  and you always will.

What do I win?

If you want more time with your family, your ticket might be finding a committee you are on or another commitment you can eliminate to free an extra evening at home.  You may choose to risk more and find expenses you can cut and unused items to sell which allows you to quit that second job and have much more time with the family and to work on your hobbies.  If you are unhappy with your work situation,  you could might risk a pay cut to go to work for another company.  You could start online classes to get training in a different field in preparation to starting a new career. Or you could go “all-in” and quit if your work is making you that unhappy and dive right in to trying to make a living doing work you love.  There are as many choices as there are combinations of numbers on a lottery ticket.  It’s time that you are the one making the choices.

My ticket.

I knew that I wasn’t happy with my life several years ago.  I’d grown tired of working in retail management, my home life had gotten stale, I had too much debt, too much stress and little hope that the future was going to be any better.  Last August my wife found Tammy Strobel’s Rowdy Kittens blog and we realized that our life didn’t have to continue in the depressing path it had been going.  Together, we decided to go “all-in” and change our lives forever.  I quit my retail management job and do independent contractor merchandising jobs (which I usually enjoy) to support us until I can make it as a writer.  We have sold most of our possessions and cut most of our expenses and have reduced over $13,000 of debt.  Relatives are giving us a place to live until we decide where we want to settle.  We have taken a huge risk and our lives have been changing for the better.  I’m not sure exactly where we will end up, but I do know that I’ve bought my ticket, and soon I will win my prize.


In 2011 I have committed to Own Less, Buy Less and Do Less.  Please join me in this commitment.  Read my post A Call For Change…Make 2011 The Year Of Less and sign the proclamation at the top of the right-hand column.

A Call for Change… Make 2011 the Year of Less

There comes a time when the people recognize the need for change.  The movement begins with a few pioneers brave enough to voice their dissatisfaction with the way things are now and who paint a picture of how things could be.  The movement grows as their voices resonate with the hearts of the people.

Such a call for change is echoing around the world.  Voices for change tell us that we can opt out of a culture which preaches that buying more will buy us happiness.  They tell us that a fulfilling life is not about who has the newest car, the biggest house, and the most toys, but that  fulfillment comes from truly caring for the possessions and people that surround us.   Instead of working more hours in jobs that penalize our creativity, these innovators show us how to turn our passions into our occupations.

Are the voices for change calling out to you?  Is it time to end the destructive pursuit of more possessions and to begin construction of a fulfilling, uncluttered life?  The path to your new life will be difficult, but trail blazers have forged ahead and cleared the way.


It is time to make your Declaration of Independence from the consumer-driven, workaholic culture and join the movement to make 2011 the year of less.


Official Proclamation, 2011 is the Year of Less

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the ties that bind them to a life of bondage to their jobs, possessions and commitments, mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to separate from such way of life.  To support said separation, let the following facts be presented to a candid world.

  • Corporations and their marketing agencies have led the people to take the wrong path in the pursuit of happiness, a path leading to an excess of possessions and expanding home sizes to house these possessions.
  • These excesses have the people climbing over mountains of clutter and swimming in oceans of debt.
  • Governments encourage this excess consumer spending to stimulate their economies and raise tax revenue to pay on their insurmountable levels of debt.
  • The people have become trapped in jobs for which they have no passion, working too many hours in a day and too many years of their lives, to pay for things that they are told they need, but bring no happiness.
  • Work and obligations leave the people with little time and energy to do the things they love.

Knowing these facts to be true, we must separate ourselves from the pursuit of excess material possessions and free ourselves to live and work where and how we choose.  Therefore, we do solemnly publish and declare the year 2011 as The Year of Less.  In support of this proclamation, we, the undersigned, swear to Own Less, Buy Less, and Do Less in 2011 and the years beyond.


Are you ready to break away from a life where you are owned by your possessions and debt?   Do you want the freedom to support yourself and your family doing work that you truly enjoy and love?  No matter your age or your current situation, it is possible  to change your life for the better.  There is a clear direction for the pursuit of happiness.  Take the first step today.  Sign the 2011, The Year of Less proclamation by leaving a comment stating your participation.   Share this post with your family, friends, and co-workers and give them the opportunity to join you on the journey to freedom and happiness.

Become a voice for change and sign the proclamation.

I’ll Retire When I Die

“I’m going to work until the day I die.  That’s my retirement plan.”

I was doing an audit at a major pharmacy store when I heard the long-time manager of the store give the above response to a customer who had asked him if he was ever going to retire.  I laughed when I heard that and told the manager that was my retirement plan also.  By the time I shared this with my wife that evening, I could no longer find any humor in this encounter.

At this point in my life, I really felt like I would be working at a job I no longer enjoyed until I died or I just wasn’t able to work anymore.  I was manager of a small bookstore making a moderate salary with little upside. Days off from the bookstore were spent doing audits and merchandising jobs at other retailers.  On top of our normal living expenses, we had credit card debt and medical bills.  Even making minimum payments left no money for savings.  If I didn’t make some changes, it would be years before I had my debt reduced enough to start saving for retirement.  It wasn’t a pretty picture for my future.

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

There are lots of resources available if you are looking to reduce debt.  One of my favorites is Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness A common theme among most resources is to live a frugal life – cut your expenses and only make necessary new purchases.  You then apply every dollar available to building an emergency fund and to paying off your debt.  My wife and I moved to an apartment where our rent was about $400 less, we went to one cell phone instead of three, and instead of having 100s of TV channels, we now have only basic cable.  The day may come when we just throw the TV out completely.  All of these things helped us pay down some of our debt.

Just recently, we discovered another set of resources that have really put us on the fast track to, not only getting out of debt, but also to living an independent lifestyle.  Our lives really started to change when my wife discovered Tammy Strobel’s website called Rowdy Kittens.  This site was my introduction to what it means to live a minimalist lifestyle. The first time I visited, I spent hours reviewing the archived posts and following her links to the sites of others writing about minimalist living.  In addition to reducing expenses and spending, Tammy’s site showed us the importance of reducing the clutter in our home and life.  We really took a hard look at all the stuff we owned and asked ourselves how important it was to us and had it even been used in the last 6 months, or 6 years.

What we discovered is that we had 100s of things that we never used anymore.  We moved a lot when I was  in retail management and it is amazing how much stuff we had that never got unpacked from place to place.  It was time for us to downsize!  We begin to look at each item we owned and to make decisions whether the item should be kept, donated, given to family/friends, sold, or trashed.  The book, The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta, was very helpful in suggesting a process for dealing with our clutter.

We still have a long way to go in our journey to remove the clutter from our home and lives, but I am confident that we will be successful. I am also confident that I can show you how to take this journey.  Will you join us?



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Black Friday Equals Red for You

Wal-Mart location in Moncton

Image via Wikipedia

For the first time in over 25 years, I will not be working in a retail store on Black Friday.  I also will not be shopping in any stores on that day.  As every good American consumer knows, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and it is so named because the Christmas season is when many retail businesses begin to show a profit (be in the black) for the year.

I have to admit that there was a time that I enjoyed  working on Black Friday.  It was amazing to me how packed with customers the Walmart I worked at would get, and how quickly the sales dollars would add up.  One Black Friday we had a desktop computer as a door buster item.  We received 90 of them to sell and we placed each one in a separate cart.  When opening time came, we had 7-8 associates available to distribute the carts with the computers to the customers that were interested.  It took less than 10 minutes to run out of these computers.

Then Black Friday became a competition among retailers not just for having the most ridiculous loss-leader deals, but also who could open the earliest.  6am?, 4am?, 3am?  You’re too late!  Some stores opened at midnight last year.  And, in the interest in getting first shot at customers’ dollars it was only a matter of time that someone would open on Thanksgiving Day for Black Friday.  Toys R Us is opening at 10pm Thursday.

Of course, the stores wouldn’t do these things if the customers didn’t encourage it.  “If you open, they will come.”  People line up outside stores hours in advance, all for a chance to buy a GPS for $59.99 or to grab some high-quality $3 appliances.  Every year we hear the news stories of injuries, fights, and even deaths occurring  during these door buster sales.  Stress levels are high for shoppers and employees who often take the brunt of shopper’s frustrations and anger.

While we hear plenty of stories about stores moving into the black for the year, we rarely hear stories about customers who put themselves in the red for the entire next year.  Here are some facts from the Family Life Radio website about Christmas spending.  On average, Americans spend the first six months of every year paying off the holiday debt from the previous year. In many cases, the bills far outlast the gifts.  The average American has 13 cards, including credit cards, debit cards and store cards.  Americans carry, on average, $5800 in credit card debt from month to month.  If one were to make only the minimum payment on their debt every month, it would take 30 years to pay off – and include an additional $15,000 in interest.  The federal reserve reports that 40% of Americans spend more than they earn.

The internet has 100s of websites with tools and advice to help you prevent overspending on Black Friday and for Christmas.  Setting a firm budget and  paying  cash instead of using a credit card are some great ideas, but here are some better ideas:

  • Give homemade gifts, baked goods, family photos or craft items
  • Offer services such as babysitting, snow removal, or some handyman work
  • Re-gift an item you purchased or received and couldn’t use.
  • Make a gift basket of inexpensive items, such as a movie night basket with a DVD, microwave popcorn, etc.

Stay home this Black Friday and spend some relaxed, quality time with family and friends. You don’t have to spend 2011 paying for Christmas 2010.  Don’t get caught up in the advertisers’ and stores’ game.

I’m not playing this year.

Live Your Retirement Dream Now

The Yelp RV.

Image via Wikipedia

I had my retirement all planned by the time I was 35.  At that time I was the manager of a Wal-Mart store making a decent salary, Wal-Mart stock was splitting every two years and the company had a nice profit-sharing plan.  If the company stock growth continued at anywhere near the same rate, I calculated that I could retire by age 55 with over a million dollars in my profit sharing account.  Then I planed to buy a RV and travel the country with my wife, bugging friends and relatives and taking our future grand kids on trips.  When we weren’t traveling I could read, write, play music and work at whatever interested me at the time.

Things didn’t work out according to plan.  I’m 55 and I don’t have a million dollar profit sharing account or own an RV.  Years ago I revised my plan to working until 60 before I retire. Then the age went to 65 and finally to 70.  I scrapped the whole idea of getting an RV.  Last year when I read some stories about Charlie Terry, Wal-Mart’s second oldest worker at age 93, I joked with my wife that I would probably have to work longer than that before I would be able to retire.

Greeter Charlie Terry

Recently I discovered that the problem wasn’t with my retirement plan, the problem was that I thought I needed to wait until retirement to travel the country, take the grand kids on trips, and work doing what I like to do.  Like most people, I believed that I needed to work 40+ years for companies with 401k plans.  I believed I needed to wait until my financial planner and tax adviser determined I had saved enough money to retire comfortably.  We all believe this because it is what we are taught from the beginning of our careers. Even teenagers have the company 401k plan explained to them during orientation.  Google search retirement planning and you will find thousands of websites offering tools to help you calculate how much money you will need to retire, how much money you need to save each month to reach your retirement goal, and how to invest your money in retirement accounts.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for saving money for the future.  I’m just saying that there is a way to live the life you dream of now even while you are saving for the future.  The internet holds the resources you need to escape the conventional way of thinking about work and retirement. In future postings I will share my experiences with you and show you the resources I have used to start transforming my life.  I will show you how to:

  • simplify your life and unclutter your home
  • rediscover your interests and your passion for life
  • rearrange your finances and reduce your expenses to make a career change possible
  • use the internet to turn your interests and passions into a means of supporting yourself and your family

If you have any interest at all in living your dreams of the future now, then please take the time to investigate the resources that will be discussed in the near future.  Please take the time to leave comments or to ask any questions and share the link to my blog with anyone you think may be interested.