To Commute or Not Commute; That Should Be the Question. I Don’t Know About You, But Not is for Me!

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed my 30-year teaching career immensely. Well, at least the teaching part, my wonderful students, friendships with my colleagues,and especially knowing that I had the chance to inspire children to enjoy learning and growing as a person. The politics of the workplace; the useless mandated busywork, and in particular, the rat race of the crowed commute I could have done without. So, that is what I decided to do–Do with out. And wow! If there was a better time than now not to be commuting, it is now. Six-fifty per gallon for gas, really? Sinking hard-earned coin into a sinking–literally–401K or 403B account? What inspiration to stay on the job until I am 67 is that? So, do I plod on for six more years? That was the next question. One that I answered with a resounding and emphatic, “No!”

Perhaps you find yourself pondering your career future. Let’s face it, particularly if you are or are approaching middle age — I’d say that being 61, I have about eclipsed that demographic — facing another decade or more ‘cruising’ the parking lots many of us call freeways and searching for that two cents cheaper gas station, waking up at the crack of dawn, and reversing course at the end of the work day, that you just might start wondering why you can’t earn your living with a shorter commute. How short should it be? Well, for me, that was easy. A commute of 60 feet seemed to be a rather advantageous compromise. You see, my commute begins from the edge of my bed to the kitchen, where I fuel up with a cup of , and ends with a few more feet into my home office where I sit down and slide myself ensconced in my comfortable chair to my computer. Oh, yeah. Did I mention what time I need to leave in order to reach my destination? That is a rather easy answer. It depends on my mood and what I scheduled myself for the day. If I wish to indulge in a bit longer of a shut-eye session, so be it. My work is not going anywhere; nobody is watching what time I arrive, and unless my dogs aren’t dancing around my feet for a treat, I am not worried about navigating a crowded thoroughfare.  Oh, it is Friday. Should I stop on the way home to spend $100 to fill my tank? Oh, that’s right! It hasn’t been two-and-a-half weeks yet; no need to even look at a gas station, or for that matter, at the ominous and ever-rising prices so prominently beckoning your car for it’s fill. My transcript is not due until tomorrow, and the Angels are playing a Thursday matinee game. I almost feel bad for some of my friends–well, on second thought…  Later that evening, I go though my bills that arrived — as they always do — like clockwork. Car insurance for the year is due. No need to wonder, “Should we just carry liability now that the Lexus is paid for?” I respond to myself, “Why. As we are driving far less now, our insurance rates actually dropped by one-third.” Needless to say, I couldn’t be happier. No real commute; fewer stops to refill my wheeled friends, I realize that in gas, insurance, and wear & tear, that I am saving around $400 in transportation costs per month.

I don’t wish to convey that working for myself out of the comfort of my own home is in anyway the picture of commuting down the golden highway called Easy Street. Like any legitimate method of making a living, working from home and having your own business, and where you are your own boss, can be hard work; it requires due diligence. You do have to be disciplined; you must be organized, and at first, you will most likely need to be creative with budgeting — at least for the near future. It takes commitment; it takes patience; it takes follow through and meeting your obligations. If anybody tells you that you will get rich quick and float around with golden parachutes, they are lying. You have to work. That is the nature of business, whatever your business may be. Anything worthwhile, including financial and career success, must be earned. What working for yourself provides, though, is freedom to do so on your own terms. The more you put into your business, generally, the more it grows, the more money you make, and the greater satisfaction you derive. You have the control over your future; you call your shots. You are not making someone else wealthy. You get to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Yes, you must work, but who says it has to be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.? Maybe you wish to work late at night or split up your time around other events or recreational pursuits. So long as you meet your obligations, it isn’t about when you do your work, but rather when you choose to finish it while meeting your obligations or needs.

I know this sounds — and is — cliche, but it is also a very time-proven truth: you find what your passion is, what is it that you have an aptitude for and desire to do? Then go for it! Realize that a business must be built. Understand that you may have to tighten the budget belt a bit at first. Remind yourself, there is no golden parachute or easy road to riches. You do not get something for nothing. The world doesn’t work that way. So, unless you are that less-than- 1% of humans on this rock we call Earth that either inherited millions, won a huge lottery, or are blessed with professional caliber major sports talent — and they have to work hard at their craft, by the way — you will have to work to make a living. Choose what you enjoy and what will bring you happiness, and what you are passionate about. It helps greatly, of course, if it fits your talents. And no matter how talented and smart you are, proper training and education in your choice of a home-based business is vital. Do your research; don’t dive head first into something just because it initially piques your interest or curiosity. Do some homework, ask questions, make a list of what you want out of your business. Be sure that you can survive on less than what you might be making now. That doesn’t mean that you will not be successful and make more money than you were previously. It just means that your present salary may not be reached or eclipsed right away, or maybe, not at all. Plan for the long term and have clear-cut goals in mind. Make those goals achievable. Be sure to set a few benchmark goals early on so you get the feeling of moving forward and towards your bigger goals. There is no better time than now to begin that process. Every venture needs a starting point. First, though, you must be committed. You cannot enter upon the journey of creating your own business and being self-employed unless you are decisive, patient, and willing to jump in with both feet and understand that it is going to take work. Often times, success is incremental, but so long as you move forward, the path becomes easier.

By all means, do not fear failure. That doesn’t mean, of course, that failure is your goal. We don’t set out to fail. That said, most successful business owners treat failure as merely a stepping stone. Our failures are often professorial — in other words — failure can be amongst the most important teachers. The trick of it all is to learn from Professor F. Otherwise, rather than becoming successful, we become insane. After all, as Dr. Einstein opined, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.” As a teacher, I hated when a parent would blurt out that inane proclamation, as if he or she were some type of modern-day Socrates, “Failure for my child is not an option!” Translated out, that simply means, “I will do Timmy’s homework if that is what it takes.” Failure is not an option, of course, is future code for “My 40-year-old kid lives in my basement eating cheap pizza and ramen noodles while playing XBox all day, thinking he will be crowned, ‘Tycoon Timmy, The World’s Richest and Greatest Gaming Guru.'” Thomas Edison was one of the greatest of inventors, and we have him and other like-minded individuals to thank for us not having to carry candles and heed Mother Nature’s call via the route of the chamber pot late at night. As with all these august inventors, they experienced as many failures as successes. But what successes they did achieve. We don’t — nor should we — set out to fail. That is certainly not our goal. But that teacher is not one to be feared either. We respect and learn valuable lessons via Professor F’s counsel, and when we learn that one lesson, it should not be repeated but learned from. Well, it is not for me to indoctrinate you with philosophical musings, but as a self-employed business owner or free lancer, whatever label you wear, the important thing is to keep growing and moving ahead.

As for me, when I retired from the classroom in June of 2018, I decided that I wanted to keep working. Oh yes, really there was no choice. While the commute, the growing amounts of paperwork, and the workplace politics were a major impetus of my decision, it was becoming necessary to be at home full time. My dear wife — also a retired elementary school teacher — battles MS. It was no longer safe, practical, or feasible for her to be at home for me to work a full day at school. While she can drive, getting out to our garage for her on her own is difficult. She enjoys going to a therapy pool and to a gym that is for disabled people every weekday. I go with her to be her helper and also to work out. We enjoy that time together. We tossed around the idea of me staying in the classroom as I was bringing in a good salary and the health benefits were very good with no employee costs. However, having a home-health aid is very expensive. So, we decided upon me retiring and starting an at-home business that could help replace my income. My wife has a retirement pension, but it would be difficult for us to make ends meet on her salary alone. I do have an IRA with a tidy sum, but since I am not quite at medicare and social security age, I need to protect my IRA.

The hardest part of any new endeavor is just to start; the second hardest is, “At what?” I knew that there were freelance writing gigs on several online platforms. Having taught language arts and having a degree in the humanities, writing, proofreading, and editing are things that I can do well. However, writing adds about steam presses was not something that inspired me. Education jobs for teachers are quite numerous, but I was looking for something that I could do as my own business. Something where I set the schedule, where I could have flexibility, and a business that had potential to grow and had support systems and online training. Here are the top four that I think are the most useful, employable, in demand as far as clients, and that are perfect for someone who either wants to set up a sole proprietorship or LLC: Bookkeeping, Virtual Administrative Assisting, Proofreading, and Transcription. Each of these businesses had good online training courses with free introductory mini-courses that introduced you to that particular business. Each one interested me, and I learned as much as I can in order to best choose the one that most aligned with my skill set and talents, and, of course, the one that I knew that I would be most passionate about. I am elated to have made the correct choice, transcription. Finding TranscribeAnywhere online was an absolute godsend. I was hooked the moment I began with the first lesson on the 7-Lesson Free Mini-Course. I have not looked back since.

Are you ready to find out all about transcription. Here are some links that will introduce you to general and legal transcription. I have taken both courses, but now there is a program that combines both, which is really an ambitious, but very worthwhile endeavor. Anyway, the Free 7-Lesson Mini-Course is just like it states in its title — free. In fact, Janet does not want anyone signing up for the full course until they take the free course. It introduces you to the business of transcription and will help you decide if it is right for you. Then you will be able to make an informed decision before you pay tuition on the full course as to whether transcription is a fit for you. Anyway, the Free 7-Lesson Mini-Course is interesting; it will answer a lot of questions; it will go over equipment, and it will give you a preview of what the life of a transcriptionist is, and what the full course entails. There is no strong-arm tactics. Transcription is either for you, or it isn’t. That is for you to decide.

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