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Accepting Instability

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I broke down in tears last Sunday night for the first time in a while.  We had close friends over for a Christmas lunch and gift exchange earlier in the day, but I guess I was too excited so I just felt emotionally drained afterwards.  I also only got about 4 hours of sleep the night before.  So I was already a bit unstable, lol.  That led to me having a really tiny mental breakdown that my poor husband witnessed since he was wandering into the room about that time.  Poor guy was just on his way to the bathroom and then was caught off guard by a crying wife laying sideways on the bed.  But sometimes it truly pays to know how to talk about money with your spouse.

Why I Was Really Crying

Well, Mr. BFS laid down next to me and kept saying nice things until I stopped “leaking” as he put it.  His soft questions had me working through a train of thought that brought it all down to…I don’t feel stable.  I was super excited about our day with friends, so I felt like that little kid after a super awaited Christmas…I don’t think anything could have lived up to my expectations.  It was a great get together too – yummy food, thoughtful gifts that kicked butt, and even a little time hanging out afterwards.  But I still felt like it ended too suddenly and everything was just over.

That thought led me to how fast I feel like everything flies by.  I am constantly caught off guard by the date.  It just doesn’t feel like mid-December 2012 already.  Then that led me to thinking about our last full year together of hubby and me working from home.  It’s been great but feels like it just flew by and I don’t have much new to show for it.

From April 2011 to December 2011, my online business grew exponentially every few weeks.  It was crazy.  In those 9 months, I went from having one or two clients to having more than 150 and I was killing myself trying to keep up with it all.  That was the entire reason Mr. BFS started working at home at the end of January 2012…I needed help and he wanted to try.  Well, the growth in 2011 meant I went from making $2000 a month online to making more than $20,000 in last December alone, so having us both work from home made sense.

Then Google changed their ranking program stuff, decreased the Page Rank of a ton of bloggers and advertisers, and scared off more than half of my ad contacts.  So in April 2012, my dreams of making more than $200,000 a year came to a screeching halt.  We were still bringing in good money (more than what we need), but it sucks to have a dream stopped by forces outside of your control.  This year has been a lesson in the instability of self-employment and life in general.

Accepting Instability

As I tried to explain why I was feeling like crap to my husband, he responded uncharacteristically.  He’s usually a great, big pessimist, but he kept saying things like “but we’re doing well” and “I wouldn’t have traded this last year for anything”.  How does a girl stay sad when her pessimistic partner is all sunshine and rainbows?  She doesn’t.  He’s right.

My business is sustaining us and then some.  It’s actually looking like it is recovering slowly from the Google slap too.  We’re not anywhere close to the numbers of last year, but we are making more than we ever did working for others.  And that should be considered a huge win.  We are happier than ever before.  And even when we had “real jobs”, we were never in positions that were guaranteed, so that feeling of stability I felt in my old job was all just false hope anyway.

In short, life itself is unstable.  Nothing is ever guaranteed.  If you ever feel like it’s all in your control, you’ll be rudely awakened by the realization that it truly isn’t.  But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  I am now feeling a tiny bit of relief…I don’t control everything.  It’s not all on me.  I can do my best, follow my own advice to grow my sites faster, and even branch out to different hobby jobs, but I can only control my own reaction to things.  So breaking down into tears just because I was tired, emotionally crazy, and feeling a little off kilter was probably not the best reaction I could have had.  Oops.

Sometimes you just have to accept instability…and remember to get enough sleep so busy days don’t kick your booty, lol.

How do you deal with the lack of control you have over life?  Any methods you’d suggest for others?

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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22 thoughts on “Accepting Instability

  1. With jobs, I’ve learned that it’s a guarantee that anytime something feels like it’s sailing along, things will inevitably change. Settle into a great job with everything going well, and your manager will get shifted around and you won’t get along as well with your new one. Get your desk exactly as you want it and find out they’re moving your group somewhere else. Even though you were working on your own, your model was very dependant on Google, and just like an employer, they’re bound to change something, just as you settle into your groove. That you’re able to roll with it and still come out ahead is the important thing.

    I’m going to use ‘leaking’ when my wife cries. I’m sure she’ll love it. 🙂

  2. There have been a few things recently that have shown me how little control I have in life. The shooting last week was only 45 minutes from my house and the kids are about the same age as my daughter. There have also been financial challenges too, this may turn into another guest post for Crystal.

    What I have learned is that you can’t control everything. Financially, you just prepare the best you can. After that, I know that whatever hole I fall into, I’ll be able to dig myself out. As far as the shooting, I just make sure those around me know that they are loved.

  3. I agree with your husband you two are doing great and a great job helping others. A lot of times we have expectations and something happens. You can still reach your goal of 200k but maybe it will take a different route. You are making “more then you need” that is always a great thing. You just bought your 2nd home!!!

  4. Dude–you guys bought a HOUSE this year, and by anyone’s standards, it’s a giant old HOUSE! You get to work from HOME. With your HUSBAND. EVERY DAY.

    Snap yourself out of it! Remember the law of gravity, what goes up MUST come down. Your business is doing fantastic, and you have still come so far. I understand that you’re not where you thought you would be, but you have so much more than you did several years ago and you’ve come so far. Don’t let your expectations cloud up the reality of what you DO have.

    It’s good that you threw yourself a pity party, and now make sure you snap out of it : )


  5. In any business there has to be a stable portion or you have to establish it. If there is huge turnover, you need to maintain the turnover. Does that make it unstable? Only if you let yourself become a victim of that turnover. You can make the most unstable business more controllable.

  6. Jeez. Great minds in the (sort of) same track. I posted obliquely on the same theme this morning: how the heck to cope with irregular income.

    Heh. The realization that life really, behind as many scenes as we’d like to construct, is out of control…that’s something that comes to you one day, out of the blue. Sounds like you got a visitation, all right. Don’t panic: life is out of control for all of us, but we can fake it.

    You’re doing OK so far. Sooner or later you’ll come up with some new Insight or Idea that will turbocharge your enterprise again. Or you’ll realize the business doesn’t have to be turbocharged to provide a living for you. Or you’ll come up with some entirely new enterprise, because that’s just in your nature.

    BTW, moving is one of the most stressful things you can do. Most people don’t realize it, because we usually think of getting a new place as a wonderful new adventure. But it is hard and it is stressful…so it’s not surprising that eventually emotional things would tumble down on you.

  7. Thanks for this honest post! I’ve been feeling overwhelmed recently because my husband will need to have a new job in about 5 months (we hope) and he hasn’t been looking for one. The time to apply for this type of position is 6-9 months in advance, so I’m worried he’s limiting his options by waiting. Where he chooses to go will determine where I’ll be trying to get a job in 1.5 years-ish and where we’ll live for about 3 years so it’s pretty important for our personal lives as well as career!

  8. @Money Beagle, spot on. And yes, pointing out that I was “leaking” actually did make me smile, lol.

    @MikeS, I completely forgot where you lived. I’m sorry that was so close to home. 🙁 I hope all of my loved ones understand all of my hugs and love you’s…

    @Jason, thanks!

    @Budget & the Beach, ouch. Good luck! I have an open room for rent, lol. 🙂

    @Thomas, I know, sometimes breakdowns aren’t logical, lol. 🙂

    @Lance, you sound well-balanced.

    @Newlyweds, no worries, I snapped out of it in about an hour. 😀

    @krantcents, we look at our extra income streams as our stabilizing factor.

    @Funny, it is always interesting balancing the instability. Great minds indeed. 🙂 And yeah, I think everything added up and the dam just burst…

    @Emily, holy moly. I’d have become the Queen of Nag at this point with a can of Kick-Ass in one hand and Put-On-Your-Big-Boy-Panties in the other. Now I will shut up since I just recently changed my big girl panties myself, lol.

  9. I had just written a post about the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots game on Sunday evening when I read your post. It really is all about attitude. The Patriots were down 31 – 3, yet Tom Brady brought them back and tied the score; four unanswered touchdowns! Even though the Patriots, lost the comeback was amazing. It is ALL about keeping a winning attitude.

  10. Having read a great deal about self-employment in the last few years, I would say that your experience is just part of the experience. The fear, the uncertainty, the “what ifs,” the wondering about how the bills will be paid next month.

    As for me, I still have a “stable” job to go with my online work, but that stability is only an illusion. I think we need to learn to apply those corporate rose-colored glasses to self-employment too and we’ll all be a little less stressed out and a bit more productive.

    You took a big risk starting a business that was dependent on something else, but so are most other businesses. No matter what happens, I certainly think you’ve learned a great deal, not the least of which was how to take big risks. You created a business model that had never existed in our space–and certainly, that’s to be applauded and I’m sure can be replicated in other creative adventures in your future.

    Thanks for sharing such a personal story.

  11. @ Crystal. I tried nagging. It didn’t work and led to a lot of strain. Now I’m just trying to keep in the front of my mind all the reasons I trust my husband and how he’s come through in the past.

  12. “And even when we had ‘real jobs’, we were never in positions that were guaranteed, so that feeling of stability I felt in my old job was all just false hope anyway.”

    You said it sister. The only job that’s guaranteed is the one you create for yourself. That whole employee thing is just a false sense of security. You’ve already done the hardest part and that’s jumping off that cliff.

    Keep your chin up. You’re killing it!

    Now, after those words of so called wisdom, I’m going to return to “leaking” about my own self-employed woes 😉

  13. This must be the time of year for meltdowns. I don’t have them but when I found out my business sale isn’t going to happen by the end of the year, I had about 30 minutes of needing to cry in a dark room. Then you think about how maybe that is an opportunity in itself and I was OK. It’s hard when you have a plan and you’ve wrapped your head around how things are going to be and then it changes for reasons you can’t control. I think we all have that. You’re doing great and really, who needs $200,000 a year, especially when your state isn’t one of the most expensive and you are well within your budget.

  14. @Rod, I’ve got my positive back on. 🙂

    @Wojo, thanks for the pick-me-up!

    @Emily, good luck. He’s lucky you know him so well. 😀

    @The Insurist, lol. Good luck. No leaking over self employed milk or whatnot… 😉

    @Kim, I agree, I think nobody likes admitting a lack of control. And you’re right, we do not need $200k a year here. We are just fine and then some. Thanks!

  15. So very true. Nothing in life is guaranteed.

    Big picture, you guys are doing pretty good, and Len sounds like a complete rock for you. We all need a bit of a cry from time to time though – no shame in letting it all you.

    Merry Christmas!

  16. I think instability of self-employment (and the fear of) is the reason why most of us are on the sideline. It’s true that typical jobs are instable–I was laid off from my first two jobs out of college–but there are also more safety nets like unemployment and severance packages.

    I think you’ve done a great job of carving out a different kind of life for the two of you. It will definitely change (I am one of the ones who lost their PR last March!), so you just need to be adaptable and able to change. And I don’t know about you, but right before I’m about to make a big change/adaptation I feel really homey and want to hide from the world a bit.

    Merry Christmas to you both! I hope to see you in 2013.

  17. I love this post. It’s so real and breath taking. Truth be told, you’re more stable than you were in your “real job” You have more control over your destiny, don’t fret if things are as good as the year before, it will bounce bank.. just make the proper adjustments.

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