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If you’re anything like me, you hear all of these people talking about “finding your passion”, “embracing your potential”, blah blah blah, and you kind of want to punch those people in the throat.
You don’t have time to meditate under a palm tree and find your inner goddess. You have bills to pay, baby vomit to clean up, sleep deprivation, and an overwhelming desire to stare at the ceiling for hours every morning before you get out of bed.
Regardless of whether it’s born from the desire to follow a passion or not though, working from home stays high on the list of goals for many women.
My sobriety allows me to do what I love today, and I stumbled upon it almost entirely by accident (if I believed in accidents, anyway). Over time while fumbling my way out of my comfort zone, I realized that for the first time in my life, I loved how I was spending most of my days.
I’m not here to spout any woo-woo feel good stuff at you, and I realize that not everybody wants or needs this. To those of you who do though, I may be able to help. I’ve been realizing that keeping this information separate from my blog isn’t really “me”.
Maybe this seems oddly off-topic, but my sobriety and work are closely intertwined. I do what I do because I’m sober. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without recovery. The ability to make a living doing something I enjoy and spend time with my kids on my own schedule is a pretty awesome gift of sobriety.
There’s really too much to cover in one post, but I’ll do a general intro here, and go from there.
First, let’s define working from home:
When I say “work from home”, what I really mean is working for yourself.
Home just happens to be where most people end up working for a while. If you are looking for a regular job with benefits that will let you work remotely, I can’t help with that. I’ve worked for myself in some form or fashion from the age of 20, so that’s the angle I’m coming from here.
In 2006, my then-husband started a mortgage field services business. Our first daughter was 3 months old, and I quit my job to help build and manage the business a few months later. I became the majority shareholder, and off we went.
After a few years, it made a pretty good income. It grew over time, and at one point I was responsible for managing nearly 15,000 inspections a month, spread over 50 subcontractors in multiple states. There were many late nights and stressful days.
But then: divorce. When we split, I sold my ownership to him. I’d planned to rebuild my life with the help of the funds from selling it, but those funds didn’t show up.
I had no idea how to leverage the skills that I’d gained. It wasn’t as easy as I’d anticipated to find replacement work, and I was drowning. Most of that year, my income came from virtual assistant jobs, field service inspections, and babysitting. I continued interviewing and applying for jobs, with no real success.
So. That’s where I was when I started learning the ins and outs of WordPress and web design/development. I plan to write more on the details for those interested in learning. I also expand on that a bit in here.
Today, I consult and build websites for small businesses, bloggers, and creatives. I work with my husband’s technology consulting company as a freelancer, and I also work on my own projects.
In my opinion, it’s worth it to spend the time and energy working on a skill or a career that fits you well. I consider myself to be a multipotentialite, and I get easily bored. The online world is constantly changing, and that is wonderful for me.
You can make do with just about anything, but life is short. Do what you have to do (legally!) to get your head above water, but always be working toward something that at least brings out the best in you.
I don’t believe that everybody can or should just quit their jobs or make drastic changes immediately, especially if there are kids to feed and others depending on you. Be smart about it, basically.
Is working for yourself a good fit for you?
I think that some people imagine working from home as some kind of nifty balance between feeding babies and taking phone calls, or happily typing away on a project while our children play nearby. Maybe they think that they’ll get to be there for all the things, all the programs, all the field trips, all the cuddles. And maybe they’re right. It’s not my place to say that won’t happen. All I know is that it isn’t really the case for me.
It’s always here, always nagging for attention. Business feels like another child sometimes, but it’s the child that literally never sleeps and never will.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the freedom, but it’s hard to find any real sense of balance. For the most part, I’ve given up on trying to “balance”, anyway. I try to hit the most important items every day, personally and professionally. If I can get those few things, I’m good. It’s way too easy to get wrapped up in work and neglect my health or family, or get so focused on self-care and family that I don’t keep up properly with work (but then money gets tight, and the cycle continues).
It’s true that this allows me flexibility though, and that makes it worth everything for me. I mostly get to the school programs, the graduations, and the birthday parties. Vacations, days off, and weddings are not a huge ordeal. Sometimes I take this for granted, and then I see somebody trying to coordinate a simple trip to visit a relative’s wedding, and I realize how blessed I am.
I’m not very productive when I try to work with kids everywhere, or even back when I was nursing a newborn and taking client phone calls. It was manageable, but not the best use of my time sometimes. Now that my kids are older especially, school hours are my favorite hours of the day (as far as working hours, anyway). It just sucks trying to work with kids begging for attention all the time, and I’m glad I don’t have to do it as often anymore.
Be honest with yourself.
It’s one thing to think about what you can do and how much time you can set aside, but what will you actually commit to doing? How much time will you truly commit to working?
Other things to consider:
Do you work well without supervision?
Do you work best with pats on the back and constant feedback?
There are ways to make this work even if you might like more supervision or constant feedback, but it’s best to go into something like this with your eyes wide open, and a lot of honest self-analysis ahead of time. This will help you put together a plan that fits your strengths and preferences, while still stretching you to improve.
So, what kind of work can you do from home?
Personally, I learned how to build websites when I had little to no experience. That isn’t something I would have come up with on my own, but my boyfriend saw the potential in me and trained me in a lot of the beginning stages. I took it and ran from there, with his mentorship to help me along the way.
If you aren’t sure what you want to do, try out a lot of different things and getting involved with a community on Facebook or elsewhere to bounce ideas. Feel free to contact me as well if you need guidance.
These are some great resources:
- Abby at The Virtual Savvy put together 50 Services to Offer as a Virtual Assistant
- The VA Handbook
- Create Your Laptop Lifestyle
- A HUGE List of Direct Sales Business Ideas
- Real Ways to Earn Money Online
- 5 Ways to Make Money on Amazon
There are probably thousands of links, but these are just a few great starting points that I would recommend. I’m going to be writing more on this topic over the next few weeks though, so there will be more to come.
If you are interested in learning more about the specifics of building websites (and freelancing with that particular skill), that’s coming up. I don’t know if I’ll go into it on this blog, or on my Ashley Longmire Consulting website, but I’ll be putting something out there one way or another soon. Stay tuned!
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Hi! I'm Ashley, and my sobriety date is May 6, 2015. I write to share my experience, strength, and hope in recovery. On any given day, you can find me developing websites, writing, or chauffeuring kids around. Read my story...
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