12 months after renouncing full-time employment

One year without full-time employment! Wow!

The first year to not live based on the city’s rhythms of when one should wake up, drive to work, go to gym etc. I get to choose when I want to do them.

The first year to grapple with an uncertain inflow of money. This was the biggest worry when I ventured into this new life. But, thanks to whatever Gods that are watching over me, this worked out without major hassles!

The first year to manage ‘collection’ over simple and predictable ‘income’. The biggest problem has been to manage the cycle of invoice and collection because the subsequent month’s GST has to be submitted regardless of the client paying up.

The first year I have rejected work or pushed it to the next month, because I wanted to work only so much. That there has been a steady source of productive and engaging work is a huge plus.

After 20+ years of continuous 9-to-5 employment, the last year has been the most enriching and productive, I must say. 9-to-5 seems almost like the default most people stumble into – it’s almost the equivalent of moving into a house for rent. You don’t own the place, you just rent it. You can move off to another place like that any time you wish. The opposite of this seems akin to owning a place, even though any kind of ownership is very out of fashion these days, in the age of Uber and Airbnb! But owning a place comes with its own challenges – much bigger monthly outflow (in the form an EMI), maintaining the place yourself among others.

I wouldn’t recommend it to everybody – it definitely requires quite a bit of planning before you can take the plunge (particularly if you have dependents), but when you finally do, you’d realize how over-rated full-time employment is. This is not to demean the 9-to-5 routine, but it can make a person complacent very, very easily – and once you ease into the routine, moving out of it seems like a very scary proposition.

To me, it feels like a Manoj Night Shyamalan movie – I have been unconsciously planning for this, right from the beginning of my career, in 1998! All the skills I have picked up in the 20+ years of full-time employment and the assorted side-gigs that I have been indulging in, aligned to my career but didn’t pay me at those points… have started helping me now!

We talk of social media influencers… people who have built an impressive online following and go on to cash-in on that following by using them as a channel to give brands and products visibility. It’s a very linear model adapted from mainstream media – build an audience and mine that audience for visibility. I do not consider myself a social media influencer – I do not have a rate card and I never do paid promotional posts through my social media channels. But I mine this so-called influence in a very different way – every piece of work that comes to me is through this so-called influence.

This is a different model where I don’t directly make money off the supposed influence – I use it indirectly. I do not sell my audience’s attention to brands. Instead, I offer my own knowledge, observations, helpful insights etc. to the audience and that, in turn, helps me get new work!

Looking forward to the 2nd year of breaking away from the 9-to-5 cycle! The pipeline already looks very, very interesting and promising. Plus, of course, my book would be out this year – that’s reason enough to look forward to this new financial year!

PS: I wrote a more light-hearted note on completing 8 months, late last year.