Where growing, making & good living come together

Downshifting again

Posted by on Thursday 21 October 2010 in frugal, meta | 2 comments

Last week, I called it a day on a contracting gig – my main external work – which made up over half of my not-exactly-massive monthly income.

In many ways, it was a great job (and I’m not just saying that because I know three people from the company are probably reading this… ;) ) – I could do it from home, I like the team, it wasn’t exactly mentally taxing – but my heart wasn’t in it, it felt like a just-a-job-job, it was taking up more mental space than I would like from a part time job and I felt it was holding me back from making the best of my own projects.

I feel like I did when I first downshifted, when I left full time employment in 2006 – a little anxious about money and the future, but largely hopeful. Back then, my job was leaving me in tears of frustration and anger every night: I left to preserve my sanity and have a couple of months off to think about what I wanted to do next. We had lower-than-now living costs and the plan was to give myself a tight stipend from my savings each month to live on. As it happened, coincidentally, a couple of hobby projects took off the next month and they paid my way – and continued paying (and evolving to include other projects) for another 3+ years. It was when the main earning project started to tail off last summer (damn recession) that I took on the position with the company I’m now leaving.

I’ll still have a little money coming in but not much. I’ll have to rely on John a little more than I would like. I will though have some more time on my hands – to hopefully drum up some new exciting projects but also to downshift again – more time for baking, for growing, for making, for doing in general. Having the time to, hopefully, save us money and improve our Really Good Life.

(Photo by GiniMiniGi – does it remind anyone else of the Judd Nelson freeze at the end of The Breakfast Club? The Bearfast Club. The Breakfast Cub. … I’m sorry, I’ll get my coat.)


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  1. Louba

    Good luck, I’m sure something great will come up that fits with where you want to be in your life. I’m struggling with this right now – my job is the one I always wanted at least in theory. I got there a good 10 years quicker than I expected and now I’m thinking what to do I do next? It is stressful, it involved really long hours and long stretches away from home – sometimes its rewarding but probably serves no real public benefit and there is little sense of team or community both of which are important to me. On the other hand in a strange way I enjoy the chaos and the challenge and I haven’t worked out what I’d rather do. Congratulations for making a hard decision and sticking to what is important to you.

    • louisa

      Thanks Louba. I do hope it works out too.

      I haven’t worked out what I’d rather do either – that’s what I was supposed to do when I left full time employment in 2006 but because of a quirk of good timing, I ended up going down the (full time) self-employed route instead. Now as then, there are too many things I’d like to do, but none I’d really really love to do – so it’s hard to know where to concentrate my focus. Going with the flow (as I’ve done over the last few years) is ok but

      As much as I love making & growing & cooking & everything else, I’m worried that a lot of my self-concept is wrapped up with my professional life (and particularly professional success) so it’ll be … interesting to see what it’s like when I have more life and less career!


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