A Year In The Fast Lane

A few days ago I looked around at my life and thought “Boy, I cannot wait until next year.” Often, at this point in the fall, that’s what I’m saying about my beloved Gamecocks football team, but in this instance I was referring to how my life has gone by in a blur in 2014.

If you’ve been following along with my journey you know that 2014 is a transitional year for me. I currently work full time as an IT manager for a medium-sized insurance company, and have been doing that for almost 12 years now. It’s a wonderful job with great people, and I don’t regret one day of it. But part of my journey toward Financial Independence involves spending more time with my kids as they grow (the scheduling demands of being an IT manager are no picnic). So we’ve been paying off our debt as fast as we can, mortgage included, to create financial breathing room for a career change. Our mortgage payoff date has been flexible, but as of the middle of 2013 it was looking like 2015 was going to be the year we made it to debt freedom.

Then opportunity hit.

Enter The Craziness

Last December a friend of mine who I’ve known forever told me he was looking for what amounts to a part-time IT manager. And I mean very part-time. It was an attractive offer, but we weren’t at a place where we could take advantage of it financially. I counter-offered with the idea of working a few hours a week during the evening or on Saturdays. This would both to help them out with their IT needs as well as keep my foot in the door and get to know their firm.

Well that arrangement has been going swimmingly. Over the last 10 months I’ve averaged around 4 hours per week there. That’s not a ton of time, but it means at least one long day of not seeing my family at all, and sometimes two days. But my wife and I keep looking ahead at the opportunities for 2015 and telling ourselves “we’ve just gotta make it there”.

Sounds like a good plan, right? Well, as luck would have it, just a couple months later, opportunity struck again.

In February of this year a good friend at my day job decided to break out on his own and start doing some independent marketing consulting. A staple of a good marketing plan (in this decade, at least) requires a good website to promote a business’s services, which means that my friend  was looking for a trustworthy, professional web designer. So we talked.

I’ve been creating and deploying websites for over 15 years, and I’ve always loved it. At one point around 2009 I even toyed with the idea of starting my own web development company, but quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to make ends meet. But as a supplemental income opportunity? I was all over it!

Fast forward 8 months and we are working on our 3rd and 4th websites together, with at least one more possible opportunity hanging out there. The sites have been fun to work on and I’m enjoying the experience! It gets my creative juices flowing, which is rare for someone who maintains PCs and servers all day.

Again, working these jobs has been a blast. Add it all up though, and I’m working over 55 hours a week– plus 7.5 hours of driving time on top of that. Factor in 2 small children plus a newborn, and there is zero wiggle room in the schedule this year.

A Year Of Many Boxes

Long hours aren’t so bad though, I’ve worked long hours plenty of times in my life, and I’m sure I’ll be doing it again next year at times. The aspect that is taking the biggest toll is how many moving parts there are to having 3 jobs.

I’m a subscriber to the “box theory” when it comes to how men think. If you’d like more information on this theory, please check out this YouTube clip. 🙂

I thrive on closing boxes. I’ve made a career out of others presenting me with technological problems and solving them. Opening a box and closing it. But when you’re working 3 jobs, not a lot of boxes get closed! There are so many things to keep track of, plan for, and communicate on that my multi-tasking abilities are at their limit.

The boxes don’t close up when I get home either, which keeps me from concentrating on other important aspects of life. There are days where I wake up at 4am and think “I should go ahead and get up so that I can finish that contact form…”

It’s very hard for me to quiet my mind and rest at home when there is so much going on everywhere else. The “nothing box” doesn’t get opened very much these days. That may be more of a problem with me than with my schedule, but I digress.

In Summary

This post isn’t meant to be a rant. I totally recognize that I’m blessed in many ways to be able to work 3 jobs this year, making more money than I ever have before and being on track to pay off our mortgage by the end of this year. And my wife has incredible patience with me, otherwise this psycho plan of ours would never happen. My kids are… making it, for now.

But one of my favorite demotivational posters reads “It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others”. To be clear, my life doesn’t resemble the Titanic in any way. But I wanted to recount how this mostly exciting year is affecting other parts of my life, and display some of the drawbacks of trying to speed up my journey to financial independence.

Here’s hoping that 2015 will bring more balance to life, both at work and at home.