I cut ties with naysayersMy decision really seemed to rub a couple of people the wrong way - they were almost offended that I had the audacity to leave my job to move to California. There was scoffing; there was condescension. One person (whom I didn't even know very well) called me stupid. I drew the line. I can take criticism about my choices, but when I saw the unfounded resentment my decision brought out in some people, they had to go. It was nothing personal, but I was already trying to accomplish something that has a low rate of success. I couldn't afford to incessantly hear about how my failure was inevitable. I was open-minded Before and after I moved, I took on jobs that paid considerably, almost amusingly, less than other jobs. I worked for next to nothing, and I worked for free. Sometimes I still take on those gigs. Here's why: What you're worth vs. what the work is worth If one gig is paying you $100 per article, illustration - whatever your freelancing fancy - that's great. But if no one else is willing to pay you that rate, and there's still 30 hours left in the week, then that's not what you're “worth.” And anyway , I find it more financially advantageous to not think in terms of what I'm worth, but what the work is worth. Is this hour-long project worth the $20 it pays, especially when I'm getting paid $100 for a similar project elsewhere? Eighty bucks is a big difference. But if I'm not doing much else during that hour aside from watching Frasier reruns, then yeah, it's worth it, regardless of what I think I'm “worth.” Experience is worthwhile, too I've written about topics I'm not 100% crazy about. But I've taken them on with fervor, happy just to have a writing gig. Those jobs have often, if not always, led to bigger jobs. And as time goes on, I've noticed that my days are more and more filled with the type of writing that I want to be doing.
Avoid burnout; maybe get paid to not workI don't need to warn you about spreading yourself thin, nor do I need to tell you how to relax. But I've found a way both 1) avoid burnout; and 2) get paid for it. Because much of my workweek consists of writing, I find that I often need to do an activity that requires relatively no “right-brain” thinking. Thus, I've taken on a mundane gig that consists of cropping photos. After a long week of writing, I actually find it therapeutic. And better yet - I'm getting paid to switch brain sides for a couple of hours. Insure your career, even your old one Telling my boss I had put in four years at her company only to move to California to pursue a dream was one of the most difficult things, career-wise, that I've had to do. But during that meeting, something interesting happened. Instead of telling me to get lost, she actually asked me if I could continue working for her at my convenience after I moved. I was stunned. This meant I wouldn't have to immediately dip into my emergency fund. I got lucky; I had a really cool boss. But if I hadn't worked hard at that job, as great as she is, I doubt she would have asked me to keep working for her. I was thankful that I'd insured my career. What's worked for me Everyone's different. What works for me isn't necessarily what would work for you. Some might find their career switch to be most effective by “just doing it.” In fact, I know a couple of people who left their jobs, moved to Los Angeles with nothing and are now getting by perfectly fine. Not many, but a couple. But for me, it took many years of contemplating, deciding on and planning my career switch. I took a decision that some would deem irresponsible, and I tried to make it happen as responsibly as possible.
This isn't to say that I'm in the exact place where I want to be. As my goals continue to develop and expand, I may never even get there. But so far, I'm content, and this is what's worked for me.