May 7th, 2013 by Bob Bly
Several weeks ago, I wrote about how it used to stymie me when a subscriber would ask whether they should do something – like
quit their job or start a home business.
But an even tougher question you guys ask me is “What should I
The question is usually followed by a list of 3 to 5 choices, of
which the subscriber expects me to pick one for her.
Listen: I can’t tell you what to do. That’s your choice.
But I can give you some guidelines for deciding what to do on
The first consideration is money. It’s simple: come up with the
annual income you need to live the lifestyle you wish.
Then eliminate the options on your wish list that can’t fulfill
If none of them do, you must either consider other options or
find a way to make one of the options pay off better. For
instance, if you desire to be a freelance writer, write for
Next, do what I call a “self-inventory.” Ask yourself:
>> What am I passionate about?
>> What do I enjoy?
>> How would I like to spend my days?
>> What do I have an aptitude for?
>> What am I trained or educated in?
>> What is my work experience?
>> What product or service can I provide that others would pay
>> What have I done that others have praised me for?
Usually one or two items on your wish list will fit well with
your self-inventory answers, and of those, only one will deliver
your target income.
Then you have to decide.
For me, the most important criteria were:
1-Money: I needed to make enough money to provide for my family
and send two kids to college. I had no trust fund and will
receive no significant inheritance.
2-How I spend my days: I wanted to spend my days alone, in my
home office, at my PC, writing.
My personal definition of success, for me – yours may be
different – is: doing what I want to do, when and where I want
to do it, and getting paid well for it.
By “well” I had a figure in mind that was a multiple of the
earnings of acquaintances in town – mainly husbands of my wife’s
friends – who either have small businesses or work in highly
paid executive positions.
No choice you make will be ideal. Every business and profession
has its pros and cons.
To me the trick is to pick something remunerative enough to meet
your income goal while enjoyable enough to make you want to go
into the office in the morning.
Another priority of mine is to avoid boredom. I believe most of
my subscribers share this desire – probably you, too.
One of the cruelest fates is to spend your days doing a job you
detest for a boss or company you don’t like — and being unable
to quit because you need the money.
I see two ways out of this. The first is to move to a different
job function (i.e., from purchasing agent to product manager) or
change companies or industries.
The second is to start some type of self-employment, whether
freelancing or running a small business.
Many people dream of the second option and spend years
considering it, but fear holds them back.
I have previously paraphrased a wise therapist who once told me
what it takes to get moving.
He said: you won’t make a change until the pain of your current
situation – whether boredom, lack of money, lack of fulfillment,
dislike of your boss – outweighs your fear of making a change.
As a rule, that either happens or it doesn’t.