Since leaving my corporate job in February to focus on my blog, I’ve been congratulated many times and told that I am brave. Many more times, people are simply curious about “how I did it.” The short answer is that I prepared, planned, and sacrificed in order to make it happen. I suppose to those who ask “how did you do it” in hope of gaining insight into how they can do it, too, this isn’t the most appealing answer. Because it’s not a shortcut.
Not Everything In Life Is Hackable
We live in a society that’s obsessed with hacks, engineered efficiency, hidden secrets, and recipes to success. But life isn’t always hackable. I could’ve given this post a click-baity subject line such as “10 Things to Do In Order to Quit Your Job & Be a Full-Time Blogger,” and I bet that would get the post at least 10x more views. But that would be deceiving. I can’t possibly promise you that you can do the same that I did, following the steps I took. What I can do, though, is to share the things that I had to sacrifice and give up in order to live the life I do right now. That’s right — not what I did, but what I couldn’t do anymore, in order to live this blogging full-time life.
So, the list below is to strip away the glamorous surface of “full-time blogger” and reveal the struggles one has to come to terms with to live this #lifegoal. Here are seven things that I had to give up in order to become a full-time blogger.
[Disclaimers: 1) I don’t want to downplay the fact that my husband still works and brings in a decent income and how that is the main financial force that sustains our life together right now. But I also don’t want people to assume that I continue to shop, eat, live just the same way as I did before when I had a full time-salaried job. I don’t. These changes are what this post is about. 2) I have a fledgling blogging business. There are way more established bloggers out there that don’t have to live the way I live. But in order for me to get there, this is how my life ought to be now in terms of my personal expenses.]
1. My Shopping Budget
Ever since our wedding in March 2017, the purchase of our first home in May the same year, and moving in, furnishing the house…etc., I’ve been operating with a $200 per month shopping budget. When I was preparing for my eventual exit from the corporate world to work on my blog full-time, I knew it had to change. I couldn’t justify spending anything at all on clothes, accessories, shoes when I still don’t make enough to cover the basics. So, my current shopping budget is a whopping ZERO dollars a month. Now, one exception I give myself to this rule is that if I make anything from my Poshmark account, then I get to spend that money on whatever I want.
2. A New Car
Not a brand new car, no. Just an additional car to the household. You see, since my car crash in March 2017 (just two short weeks after our wedding), we’ve stashed away the insurance money for a time when we’d have to buy a new car. For now, I’ve been driving my college car: a trusted 2004 Honda Accord with 180K miles on it. My husband works from home, so he doesn’t need a car for daily commute. So, when I was driving down to Del Mar every day for work (a 25-mile trip), I drove his car. We use the Honda Accord for local trips to the grocery stores and restaurants. Do I want a more reliable and newer car? Sure, I do. Do I absolutely need one? Not so much. And now while I focus on growing my blogging business, and my income is still in its infancy, I definitely don’t need to be buying a car any time soon.
3. Gym/Yoga Studio Membership
I loved doing hot yoga, or just regular yoga. I also love trying out new classes like barre, spin (which I have yet to try), or aerial yoga. But they’re too costly for someone who’s not making enough money. And if asked myself, do I have other alternatives when it comes to working out? Heck yea — there are plenty of options out there, like YouTube videos (I used to work out to Cassy Ho’s videos all the time) or doing squats, lunges, planks in my living room. Sure, it’s less motivating and way less exciting. But is that a reason to splurge on expensive yoga or even gym membership now? I’ve made a conscious choice to say no.
4. The Ability to Randomly Drop $50 On A Dinner
Of all the things I’ve outlined in this post, this is by far the most painful. This is the most open, exposed, and public type of change that I’ve had to make. It involves having conversations with friends that I can no longer participate in our outings where we randomly pick a restaurant that happens to be $$$ and shell out $50 on dinner. It’s just out of the question. Now, if we plan ahead and pick a reasonably expensive restaurant ahead of time, then I can try to make it happen by altering other aspects of my living expenses. But it doesn’t always work. It sucks.
5. Daily Work Routines And Structure
Now we are charging into the more intangible area of the things I’ve had to give up. This was one of the most surprising elements that caught me completely off-guard. My days no longer are defined by a clear beginning and a clear end. I can no longer count on meetings to plan my time, and they used to govern my working days. I am the only person responsible for making progress, for defining progress and for setting goals…it was overwhelming in the beginning. It also made me miss the corporate world incredibly much.
6. My prized identity as a working woman
Whether you are a mom, an athlete, a gardening enthusiast, or a cat lover…there are things in life that we do, and love doing, that are part of who we are. It’s one of those things that you list on your Instagram profile that you want everyone to know about you. For me, having a well-paying job in the corporate world and living that 9-5 life was one of these things. It’s who I am. Or who I used to be for a long time. This is how I know this exit isn’t permanent — it’s merely a temporary break. It’s meant to allow myself the opportunity to foray into entrepreneurship and give this little thing I’ve built over three years the chance to flourish. But I miss saying that I’m in biotech/marketing, and saying that with complete confidence. It’s probably just the lack of practice, but when people ask me what I do (especially at 10:30 AM in the grocery store on a Monday) and whether I am a student, I stutter a little bit when I say “I’m a blogger.” I’m still practicing owning this fact.
7. The Peace Of Mind That Even If I Stop Working For A Few Days Or Even A Few Weeks, I’d Still Have Income
The beauty of paid vacations…and as clichés would have it, I never realized what I had until I lost it. March and April were difficult months for me for more reasons than one. I couldn’t write. Some days I could barely get out of bed. My working productivity dropped to rock bottom. Consequently, my income was affected. Had I been working at a corporate job, I would’ve probably been able to just take days off here and there and still have a full day’s salary while I rested at home.
With all of that said, I hope I was able to paint a clearer picture for you about what it’s taken me to begin this blogging life. I didn’t just stumble onto this #lifegoal, and it certainly doesn’t come without a price. While these aren’t the circumstances that I’d naturally prefer to live with, it has afforded me the opportunity to live my dreams. So, above all, I am grateful.
Jessica is the writer behind personal style blog Cubicle Chic. In her early twenties, she has contemplated many career paths, such as a novelist, a physician assistant, a research scientist, a court translator (English to Mandarin Chinese), and a clinical research specialist. Eventually, she found her passion in marketing communications for life science companies. She continues to cultivate her interest and skills in many other fields, such as writing, career development, and self-improvement, and hopes to help others do the same.
Image via Unsplash