What I Learned While Unemployed

Before starting my real estate business, I was laid-off from my college counseling position. Well that isn’t entirely true–my years as a recruiter made it easy to see the writing on the wall and my subconscious took over, leading me to start studying for my real estate license. At this point, I hadn’t thought very much about what owning my own business would mean to me and my lifestyle. It had always been an endeavor that piqued my curiosity and creativity. I was by no means rolling in dough, but I covered my bills, including credit cards, put money into retirement, and traveled when I could. When I was laid-off, it was almost serendipitous because for the first time since I was fourteen years old, I had a summer when I didn’t work.

Applying for jobs and taking real estate classes only took up so much of my time and it didn’t take long before I started realizing some things about myself. First of which: nine to five careers are not for everyone and not for me. A regularly scheduled program was not going to cut it for me despite being a highly structured person. A huge surprise! Without a boss, I was realizing that I had what it took to set-up and adhere to my own schedule and get what I needed done. This was a test to be exceptionally efficient with my time in shorter periods rather than stretching it over an 8-hour workday. In essence, I was learning to really focus on one thing at a time for the sake of efficiency and quality.

A close second was a money lesson. The money I had that summer was of course finite and as soon as fall set in, I didn’t want to see it all go to waste. After all, I had worked many hours to earn it. So I learned to live more simply.  I could no longer afford momentary and fleeting luxuries. Instead when I needed a pick-me-up or to pamper myself, I chose things that were truly meaningful and promoted health and happiness over a longer term. For me, that was a run on the beach, a new notebook for stories, or a quality cup of coffee as I brainstorm with a great girl friend. Quality time with my loved ones became the highest currency in my life and reaffirmed that my previous need for structure and money was quickly becoming overrated. What I now wanted was flexibility and to put my time in where it counted.

I took inventory of my strengths: efficient, organized, professional, and resourceful to name a few. I also took inventory of my weaknesses: impatient, perhaps overly structured or by the book, temper. As I went down the lists, I realized I had all the “right stuff” to own my own business and the weaknesses I had could be turned around for the better and would be challenged by this endeavor. As if one business wasn’t enough, I became a freelance writer and a California Realtor. I work almost every day but the length of those days varies considerably and I have had the opportunity to be involved in life events that I would have otherwise missed out on. I don’t believe that this is a lifestyle for everyone; however, I do feel that learning to work and live with more focus and to live more simply is something everyone can benefit from.