For almost three years I have been self-employed and working on my business. I often get asked how I can afford to live like that. In this post I write about how I live my dreams and what they need to become reality.
"Oh I would also like to do something like you, but I can't."
When I quit my job this probably was the reaction I heard most. And still, almost three years later, I get asked quite often: "How do you do it?"
I contemplated this question for a bit, because many things that I changed in my life over the last few years, weren't exactly planned. Although I had already been toying with the idea of leaving my job as a teacher, I didn't think it would be so soon. It happened out of the necessity to savor each and every day of my precious life after one of my best friends suddenly died at 28 years young.
So: how do I do it? How did I manage to become a self-employed artist and to live my dreams?
In my previous post on the topic of "living simply" I already mentioned my privilege that I share with the majority of you. So once again: I am very privileged in lots of areas of my life. My basic needs are more than met and I live in a world where I can mostly feel safe. Fulfilling your dreams is a privilege many people unfortunately don't have. And still I'm convinced that most of you enjoy the same, maybe even bigger, privilege as I do. On behalf of this text I will generalize that this is the case. If I'm mistaken, please forgive me.
"Oh I would also like to do something like you, but I can't."
Yes, you can. Like me, you can quit your job if that's what you want. You can leave the city, become self-sufficient, write a book, emigrate, travel the world with your family, renovate a van, become a dancer or a sculptor or a carpenter or whatever it is that you want to be, whatever your dreams may be. What matters are your priorities. Are you prioritizing your dream or is your current life just too comfortable to change anything? You feel like you can't do it, but take a closer look: what can you do without? What luxury are you indulging in, that you don't really need?
I believe that fulfilling your dreams also means questioning the status quo. So let me take you into my world, my path, and answer the question from the beginning: "How do you do it?"
In order to facilitate this life that was born from my dreams, I had to learn to prioritize. For the most part that means in a financial way, but not just. I moved to a little village in the mountains because I longed for calmness. The village is very remote, most of my friends don't live here, in contrast to the city there is just a very small shop here, my beloved organic produce isn't available, traveling without a car is very slow. But instead it's quiet, you know one another, you have time for a little chat with the people, nature is breathtakingly beautiful and the air is so pure. I wanted to have more time, to live a simpler life and all of that would also have been possible in the city, but my priority was nature, which I get here.
Honestly: no, I don't earn a lot. Leaving the city had also very practical reasons. It's a lot cheaper to live here. Rent, health care, taxes, for many things I pay less here, which my rather thin wallet is grateful for. But in this area, too, I had to learn to prioritize. Do I really need that?, is one of the questions I ask myself a lot. Can I make that myself?, is another one. I want to eat well and sustainably, which is already more expensive, in return I rarely buy new clothes, I don't go on big travels, I budget everything and I save before investing in something bigger, like an online education course. I don't spend money that I don't have. It's all a matter of priority and of the vision that you have for your life. At the moment it's ok for me to not swim in money, because the positive aspects of this chosen life prevail, but it's definitely not easy. I'm often frustrated because of my lack of income, asking myself why I'm doing this to myself. And yes, money has to come from somewhere. "Crappa e plema" and everything connected to it, namely my yoga classes, retreats, writing for the radio, this blog don't earn me enough yet. Therefore I accept other jobs to sustain me. I am a waitress in a restaurant, I correct texts, I create websites for others. Those aren't my dream jobs, but they give me the possibility to continue working on my dreams. Besides especially waitressing gifts me with the precious experience of doing something that is way out of my comfort zone.
If it is the money that prevents you from living your dream, let me tell you this: firstly there's always a way. Secondly: look into your budget intensively. Thirdly: it helps a lot to first save some money.
In the beginning I thought that I would fulfill my dreams in one go. But now that I'm in the thick of it I realized that that's not the case at all. It needs many more small steps to arrive at my goal. And even then it won't be finished. It will always go on. Let me say it again: Big dreams fulfill themselves in small steps. The minority of us grows rich overnight. Living your dreams requires stamina. Often you take two steps forward and one back again. It can be exhausting and nobody likes to talk about their failures, but I'm currently learning that they belong to my path as well. It's those small steps that bring me to my goal. But I need to be patient and it demands humility to recognize when something doesn't work out the way I wanted it to. I'm still at the beginning and it will take many more small steps until I can fully live my dream of a flourishing "crappa e plema"-business, of financial freedom and of the little cottage at the edge of the forest. But that's ok as this vision has become my engine that helps me through difficult phases.
That leads me to my last point. In order to not give up with every dry spell I need a vision so powerful it lets my heart beat faster. My vision that powers me through, is to build a soul-business I can dedicate myself to whole-heartedly. A business that gives me a purpose that seems important to me and that finally leads me to financial independence. But growing rich isn't my why. With "crappa e plema" I see it as my mission to inspire people to reconnect with nature and therefore with themselves.
My vision additionally contains living in nature, preferably on my own piece of land, in a small house at the edge of the forest, where there is a garden and fruit trees and a little river. I want to build a life that gifts me with time and the freedom to work from home.
My vision and my why weren't here from the start. When I quit my job I had no idea what I wanted. I just knew that I wanted time to live and to be creative. Only by doing and over the years it became clear to me, what my dream life looks like at the moment. Here, too, I needed patience and I'm sure my vision will be even clearer or look slightly different one year from now. To me it is utterly helpful to have this image in my head in order to continue fiercely on my path.
I think those are the most important points that helped me on my way to living my dreams. There isn't a magic wand that I tapped once and boom, everything was here. This kind of life requires a lot of work and especially patience. Probably it isn't the easiest way and neither is it a one size fits all. But I hope that my thoughts gave you a little impulse to start reflecting on your dreams and to find ways to realizing them. I wish you all the success you desire! =)
If you have more answers to the question "How do you do it?" from your own experience, please leave a comment. I would absolutely love to read from you!