Work Smarter, Not Harder
Instead of joining the masses in pursuit of a white picket-fenced American Dream, I am laying the foundation for a different kind of future.
Look at my lifestyle, for example. I’m part of a growing segment of the workforce who isn’t looking for a job—I’m creating one. While I’m sure it helps that my parents are all self-employed and have encouraged me to design my own path, even as a recent graduate I couldn’t imagine myself becoming a fixture in the corporate world. I lasted about two years in a somewhat traditional 9-to-5 job before starting over. Now, instead of missing my once consistent income, I’m saving more than I ever did.
My philosophy is that I should be working smarter, not harder. I’m willing to put in the work, but I won’t just work for the sake of a paycheck. I’m working on projects that excite me, with people who inspire me, and for companies that respect me.
Still, 9 out of 10 people I encounter look at me like I’m crazy when I describe my work life. For some, it sounds like an indulgent and unsustainable lifestyle, and for others, it sounds flexible, competitive, and dynamic. Both are correct—it is indulgent and dynamic, but it’s also incredibly difficult. Every risk I take is calculated, every scenario is accounted for, and every extra dollar is saved—and I never rely on a single source of income.
In today’s world, relying on a single source of income is the biggest risk you can take. You’re essentially putting your entire future in the hands of men and women you’ve never met. Your income is only increased when your bosses and their bosses say so, and you only have a job as long as they deem you “necessary.” You’re working hard, but you’re not working smart.
Since quitting my full-time job, I’ve built up multiple streams of income. Some are like clockwork, with an assignment readily available at all times, and others are more occasional. I freelance for large companies, small firms, and even a few individuals. I’ve marketed myself on Facebook, Craigslist, freelance websites, and through extensive networking, which is how I’ve landed nearly every contract. But I’m not stopping there.
If you’re wondering how to add additional revenue sources but you’re not in a position to work as a consultant, here are other ways you can do so. First, use your existing skillset to find work on the side. For me, that means editing documents for friends and family. For my husband, that might mean fixing up a computer. My personal favorite has been purchasing inexpensive furniture on Craigslist, fixing it up, and reselling it for a profit. I’ve learned how to spot a deal and how to refresh an old piece.
Real estate is our next goal—we want to find an investment property inexpensive enough to purchase but desirable enough to rent for additional income. Real estate, like the stock market, won’t give me financial freedom overnight. I know that for many, stocks seem like an obvious option. For us, without having $100,000 to invest in the market, we know we’re not going to get rich. We put aside what we can each month and invest it into solid, well-known dividend-paying companies like Coca-Cola and Proctor & Gamble, and will keep this money invested over the long term.
If anyone talks about getting rich quick, they’re almost certainly lying or somehow stretching the truth. For us, it’s not about being rich—it’s about finding ways to have enough. That means I’ll never purchase a huge mansion, and I’ll probably avoid a brand new car…but I guarantee that I’ll be visiting far-away places across the globe and spending time each day getting intimate and creative with my finances and my skillset.