Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? It’s more of a guideline, though in these extreme times it has morphed into the 99/1 rule because the influence of “the 1%” now rules the rest. Personally, my refrain has been considering my 50/80 reality (that I hope is temporary), that has also inspired an opportunity.
Budgets run up and down depending on funding and strategies. One of the consequences of working within the Gig Economy (or the 1099 Economy) is dealing with shifting budgets from larger organizations. That was true in the corporate world, and is supposedly buffered by diversity within the contractor’s world, but perfect storms happen – and as sailors tell me, what others consider storms can be opportunities. Two clients have experienced budget cuts, one of 50% from a peak, and the other of 80% from a peak. A third is suggesting a 100% cut, but that news hasn’t blown in, yet. So much for diversification.
Woe. Oy vey. What the …! Or, whew. Yeah. “Whew”, may not be the expected response; but the combination provides a needed opportunity.
As regular readers know (and may have already heard too often) I’ve been working seven days a week for several years. Some years I’ve taken a day off every other month. Now I take a day off every month. It is a difficult pace to sustain. Even at that level of effort, it has been difficult to pay all of my bills. (If you want the short version, check out my post about being on Marketplace’s My Economy broadcast.)
Through some convoluted circumstances that require far more details than I want to relay, my pace since Thanksgiving has been higher than normal and explicitly temporary. Good news will follow, but let me pass along the bad news. Because I knew the situation was temporary, I had to maintain my regular workload, too. The good news is that I built a buffer that looked like I might be able to pay my taxes in cash for the first time in years. Whoops! There goes the rug.
If I was an automaton, or maybe 28 instead of 58, I’d logically dive in and fill the open time with job searches, resume improvements, and active networking. I suspect I will get to that. Reality though, is that getting a job does no good if I am not around to do the work. I need a break and I don’t want to take one because I broke. Instead, I’m going to do something radical. At least for a few days this month I’m only going to work until dinner, and – gasp – may even take two days off. Like I said, radical.
It is too easy to fall into a rut. A pair of quotes from my first book, Just Keep Pedaling, echo since I wrote them.
“At one point I likened the bike ride to being just another rut. It is easy to fall into a rut. Living life by a series of habits is how most of us get by if I believe the experts. The bike ride was nothing but another rut. Being in another rut was not a bad thing though. It made me look at my old rut with brand new eyes when I got back to it. I appreciate so much of so much more now. I also can see parts of my life that just don’t make sense and I have to do something about those…”
“I do know now that every once in a while I have to get myself out of whatever rut I am in just to get a better look at that rut.”
I don’t have the luxury of getting into another rut just to see the one I’ve been in; but I have already seen how deep my current rut has become. Simply not setting the alarm has changed the way I wake up. I have to remind myself that urgency isn’t a constant. Taking a few minutes to enjoy the view isn’t getting away with something; but is a natural part of living. Finding an evening when nothing is scheduled after dinner isn’t supposed to be odd. It’s supposed to be normal, or least has been since labor laws were enacted.
I chuckle at times that surprise others. Sometimes I do it to diffuse tension, which can be very effective or the opposite depending on the audience. I also chuckle when I get a rare massage (something I strive for even if it is just a ten minute neck and head massage every two months to ease neck pain from staring at a screen). I chuckle when the massage therapist hits a knot, maybe because it confirms what I suspected, that hard work isn’t purely mental.
A 50 and an 80 may seem like they are ruling my life, but they aren’t. I’m aware of the cuts, would’ve been very happy to pass along the news of a 50% increase and an 80% increase in those budgets, but that’s not happening – this month. Other things are happening. Thanks to the work I’ve done with some clients, others are suggesting themselves. None have made large commitments and there’s definitely room for others to add themselves to the list; but in the meantime, I am glad for the opportunity to look up from my rut and remind myself of the view. As a rule, that’s a good idea.