I used to work 9-5 for a large public relations agency called Edelman. I loved my job, the culture, and everything I was learning, but one day my boyfriend asked me a question that changed the course of my career:
"if you quit, would they take you back?"
(He wanted to travel with me, but I only had two weeks of vacation per year, and this single question shifted my mindset so that I no longer saw my coveted job in PR as something to lose, but as a huge industry I could return to after some time away.) So, I gave my notice and booked a one-way ticket to Kathmandu, and spent the next three months travelling through Nepal, Thailand, and Indonesia with my boyfriend and my brand new DSLR.
I came back from that trip completely broke and spent the following 12 months in a funk. I didn't have a job, didn't have money, and I didn't know what I was supposed to do with my life next. I knew I wanted to work somewhere in the world of media, photography, and PR, but most of the jobs I came across were back in the 9-5, which meant I'd have to give up my newfound love for travel.
My boyfriend took care of me all year long - bless his loving soul - and it gave me space to self-educate. I taught myself how to build websites on WordPress, edit in Photoshop, and cut simple videos in Premiere. I read books like Tim Ferriss' 4 Hour Work Week, Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, and The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. I tried to make the most of my unemployment phase by adding to my skill set and growing as a human, but the truth is that I was constantly struggling with a brutal inner dialogue - berating myself for wasting my life and being a burden to people I love, and I was just so frustrated that I couldn't seem to bridge the gap between making money by doing the things I loved to do. Why did it feel so impossible to make a living outside the 9-5?
I turned to vision boarding during my personal all-time low when my mom surprised me with all the supplies to make a board after watching an episode of Oprah. I pieced mine together with one question in mind:
If I could live out the perfect day, every day, for the rest of my life, and have my finances taken care of in the process, what would that day look like?
My board reaffirmed that I wanted to travel, create content, and celebrate the finer things in life, but I never would have guessed that three days after finishing this vision board, I discovered a job posting that fit the exact role I had written about: it was a social media role in the cruise industry... which I was then able to negotiate into full-time remote work, in the interview for the job itself. I should have been willing to take any job at that point, let alone a job that paid nearly double my previous salary and was also in the travel industry, but it was missing one key piece: this job was still an office 9-5, so in the interview I asked if I could do it on a remote basis instead. I should have been willing to take anything at that point, so I'm not totally sure what I was thinking in that moment, but thankfully my future boss said yes :)
I loved having full-time work without having to go into office every day, but my boss made sure I had plenty to do so that I had no time to do anything but work if I was to accomplish everything I was responsible for. There was enough stuff on my plate that if I wanted to fulfill my role requirements without cutting corners, I would need to operate at 900% capacity, all day, every day.
This situation is what lead me into the world of virtual partnerships, digital efficiency software, and outsourcing. I never could have managed in this role on my own otherwise. In a few months I was able to turn my task-based coordinator position into a management role by outsourcing 97% of my responsibilities to people I hired off of websites like Elance and Fiverr to fulfill the tasks remotely, and together, my tele-team and I increased the total social media exposure for this company from 21.7 thousand impressions per month, to 21.6 Million, over the 8 months I was with the company... and I made it happen from behind my laptop in the Caribbean, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Thailand, and the Philippines.
Once I had this system figured out, I began working independently with other companies to execute similar systems as well as create custom content on their behalf. This is when sociallume.com was born, my social media consultancy, which I continue to run on a remote basis to this day. Since June 2013 I have worked in various capacities with several notable brands including The Ritz-Carlton, Shangri-La, Four Seasons, and the Dorchester Collection hotels, and I now spend 6-8 months of the year travelling for content creation & influencer campaigns, with the remaining 4-6 months spent working from home in Vancouver.
Aside from working with awesome brands, I'm incredibly passionate about encouraging others to do their own thing. The 9-5 system isn't a good fit for everyone, and it can be tough to find genuine happiness when you have to spend your time doing one thing just to pay the bills, meanwhile your heart keeps telling you that you're meant to do something else. If there's one thing my experience has taught me, it's that the name of the game is to figure out what you enjoy doing... because you're probably good at it too, and there's probably a way to use that combo to provide value to other people. Our days dissolve at the same rate regardless of whether we spend them justifying the life we have, or actively creating a happy life we're proud to live, so why not choose happy?