Monthly Archives: September 2015

If it’s not written down, it didn’t happen.


I hope you had a nice week!

The title of today’s blog post is “If it’s not written down, it didn’t happen.”  Have you heard of this saying before?  I learned it when I was starting out my career in HR at my old day job.  Basically, if supervisors aren’t diligently documenting employees’ performance issues, you have no leg to stand on if they get fired for bad performance and sue you or file for an unemployment.  You can say “Well, we fired Yuko because she was doing a terrible job!” but if you can’t tell the judge or the employee any specifics, it’s not very helpful.

But today, I’m not talking about HR best practices.  I’m talking about the importance of documenting the steps you took to accomplish your goals.

Have you ever had moments where someone asks you, “So what did you do today?” and you go, “Uh, I was really busy.  I did stuff… but can’t remember what I did??”  Trust me, I’ve been there.  Especially at my day job because I was wearing multiple hats and was constantly multi-tasking (you know how fond of multi-tasking I am… NOT).  By the end of the week I was like, where have I been?  What did I really do?  I was busy.  I was doing stuff.  But what did I actually accomplish??

My husband, Dave, has been keeping a journal for a few years.  It’s not the “Dear Diary” type of journaling, which I have done, but more like bullet points, here is what I did today.  He started doing that because he’s been self-employed for many years and was having the same problem of remembering what he did each day.  In his journal, he writes down things for work and non-work stuff, like “I planted potatoes today.” although as permaculture teacher and designer, planting potatoes is sort of related to his work 🙂

Earlier this year at my day job, I started a career development program for employees and encouraged folks to start writing down what they’ve done each day to achieve their career goals.  It’s a great way to keep track of your progress and also to show their supervisors what they’re accomplishing in their day-to-day.  And I encouraged the supervisors to do the same and write down what their employees are doing well and where they’re struggling.

It helps the employees see what they’ve been doing to reach their career goals and have the documentation to look back on when we meet for our goals check-ins.  It provides supervisors cohesive overview of how their employees have been doing over time and helps identify their strengths and challenges.  Not to mention a good back-up documentation if they ever have to let someone go because of a poor performance (Yikes!) or promote someone for exemplary performance (Yay!).

Of course, this tool is very practical and useful for anyone who is pursuing their goals!

So, let me tell you how I use the documentation to stay motivated and focused on my goals.

Back in March of this year, I started meeting with an accountability partner once a month.  Accountability partner is someone you meet regularly to check in about goals and challenges.  They listen, offer support and problem-solve with you if necessary, and you do the same for them.  I’m fortunate to have two of them, which I’ll write more about in my future blog post.

Anyway, in our meetings, we each set a few concrete goals to work on before the next meeting.  And in the following meeting, we share how we did with our goals and set our next goals.

Because I wanted to be able to reflect back on my experience as accurately as possible, I started writing down what I did around my goals every day in a little notebook.  It’s nothing elaborate – I just write down dates and tasks I accomplished that day.  Before our next meeting, I would review what I’ve done and report back the summary of my accomplishments and challenges.  It makes our meetings a lot more efficient, and I don’t have to waste my precious brain space to hold all the details.

People use different tools, including apps, to journal, but since I work on my computer all the time, I like using the physical notebook for taking notes and jotting down ideas.

My notebooks! I use the little Ecojot notebook on the left ( for my daily documentation and my Lisa Congdon notebook on the right ( for ideas and future planning.

I like to write them down as I go instead of waiting till the end of the day to do it.  For instance, I got up this morning and finished a blog post, uploaded the title illustration, and scheduled the post on social media.  So that’s what I wrote in my notebook.  I like logging things as I go because chances are, I’ll forget to write them down or forget what I did!  I’ve seen it happen many times to Dave because he sometimes batches his entries every few days and asks me if I remembered what he’s been doing!

I suppose calendars could work fine for this purpose, too, but I don’t track everything on my calendar.  Like for this morning, I would just put “blog” on my calendar but not all the details.  Calendar, however, is helpful for tracking time.  It’s interesting to see how much time a particular project takes.  I’m not super conscious about it usually because I normally don’t finish things in one sitting.

For example, when I’m writing a blog post, I start with a rough draft where I just let it come out of my head and start typing without worrying about grammar or structure.  Then I’ll step away and work on something else for a while.  I might come back to the post the next day and start editing. Usually I complete one blog post over 3 to 4 days.  When I added up the hours, I learned it takes about 8 hours from start to finish, including creating the title illustration and scheduling posts on social media.  I work very similarly when I’m creating an art piece, too.  It helps to clear my head from one thing and be able to look at it with fresh eyes later.

Going back to keeping a daily documentation, It’s been 6 months since I started it, and my notebook is almost full!  It’s very satisfying, and I’m also looking forward to starting on a new *cute* notebook 🙂  Ah, the small pleasures of life…

I use the same notebook for my accountability meetings and my daily log, so notes about my goals and challenges are all in one place.  These notes are nice to review not only to remember what you’ve been doing but also to see how far you’ve come.

Like I said before, I try not to compare myself to other people.  It’s one thing to learn from other people, but once it turns into jealousy or competitiveness, it’s no longer helping you achieve your goal.  Instead, compare yourself now to yourself 3 months ago.  6 months ago.  3 years ago.  When you look at your work from 3 years ago and compare it to what you do now, you should be able to see how you’ve improved.  With your daily documentation, you can now tell what you’ve done to get here.

It’s interesting to look back on my notes now, though, because many of the goals I set and struggles I was having don’t seem nearly as challenging as they did then.  For example, uploading all the portfolio pieces to a new licensing website seemed so daunting back in April.  But since it’s been done for several months, I don’t even think about it.  So when I have similar challenges now, I know that the actual hardest part is getting started.  It doesn’t feel as scary because I’ve done it before, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought.

As I write this, I’m realizing I need to start documenting “how” I do things too.  I document the process when I work on client project so I can tell them how I ended up with the solution, but not so much for my day-to-day things.  As I grow my business, I would probably be hiring some helping hands down the road, and it would be nice to be documenting my procedures now for training people later.  Note to self!

I like to celebrate small successes every day.  As a creative business owner, I know there will never be a day when I’ll cross everything off my list.  I also know that it can take years to grow your business, and you may not see any results for a long period of time.  It can be depressing and discouraging at times.  That’s why it’s so important to keep a documentation of the small progresses you make every day.  When you do see results from your business, you’ll know how you got there and what you’ll need to keep doing to reach your dream.

Start writing down what you’re doing!  So next time someone asks you what you did all day, you have bullet points to give them 🙂

Take care!

xoxo Yuko

p.s.  I have two art shows going for the month of October!  Original works from my 365 Day Happiness Project will be on display and for sale at Common Ground Coffee & Cupcakes until the end of October (*Artist reception on Friday October 2, 6-9pm!) and my brand new watercolor abstract paintings will be on display and for sale at Geraldine’s Counter during the month of October as well.






6 Things You Can Do to Make Time for Daily Creative Practice



I shared in my last blog how I stay productive by not working for hours on end but rather working in structured chunks of focused time.

Before I quit my day job, I thought it was going to be magical having all these hours in a day to do what I love to do.  In a way, it is true.  I do have more time and flexibility to work on my art business.  But it’s also true that time is still limited, and this somewhat false idea of “having all these hours in a day” sets a tricky expectation for me as I settle into my new routine.

Let’s face it.  You’re not just doing “what you love” all the time, either.  For me, what I love the most is actually making something.  But I also manage my social media, write blog posts and newsletter (which I’ve come to love more), take and edit product photos, update my online shops, work on commission, answering emails, doing my finances, ordering supplies etc. etc. etc.  And they actually take up a lot of time!!  In fact, some days I spend most of the day doing those things and spend very little time making art.  Sigh.  That reminds me, I was telling someone when they asked me what I did at my day job that I spent majority of my time responding to emails.  Because that’s what I ended up doing all. the. timeDouble sigh.

When I had a day job, I worked for 10 hours per day, 3 days a week.  I also spent about 1.5 hours per day commuting.  All in all, it was not terrible.  I typically had two weekdays, weekends, and weeknight after work to do my art.  Time seemed much more precious then, and I treated it as such.  It also provided structure and routine in my week, which helped me to function at a higher level.  Oh by the way I read somewhere that moms are the most efficient people.  I totally believe it!!

Since I quit my day job I’ve been shifting my mindset around time a little bit.  Even though I don’t have a day job to go to, which on average took up about 34 hours per week plus all kinds of mental space, I still only have 24 hours a day.

I’m also trying to put some safeguards in place so I won’t burn out.  That means I don’t work late into the night any more, and I’m taking at least one day off a week unless I really have to work.  AND I’m planning on taking every 7th week off to step back from my day-to-day business stuff and recharge.  My first small scale sabbatical will be the week of October 5th!  I’m super excited about it and will share more later!

Anyway, going back to the issue of time management, I developed a daily creative practice when I started my 365 Day Happiness Project in April 2014.  I knew that in order to become a successful artist, I needed to put myself out there every day.  It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece every day.  Just doing the work consistently is what’s most important.  Creative muscles need to be exercised every day.  And just like physical workout, you need to be pushed just enough so you know you are capable of accomplishing something you didn’t think were possible.

The daily art practice added about 1-1.5 hours per day to my already pretty busy life with a day job, managing my art business (all the un-fun things I mentioned above), and other miscellaneous responsibilities (e.g. family time, taking care of pets, maintaining our vegetable gardens, volunteering, chores etc.)  The daily art project also involved taking a photo, editing them in Photoshop, and scheduling a post on Facebook, twitter, and blog.

On my typical work day, my schedule looked like this:

6-7:15pm: Get up, eat breakfast, pet care, grab stuff and go.

7:15-8am: Drive to the pool I used to exercise at.  It was very close to the office.

8-9am: Workout

9-9:30am: Shower, get dressed, go to work.

9:30am – 7:30pm: Work!

7:30-8pm: Commute home.  Fortunately, by this time of the day the traffic is not as bad.

8-9:30pm: Eat dinner (my husband usually cooks dinner, which is super helpful!), watch a show on Netflix, catch up, do the dishes.

9:30-11pm: Art time

11-11:30pm: Get ready for the next day and go to bed!

Here is the thing: In order to commit to having a daily creative practice, you do need to say “NO” to things.

Yes, it sucks.  But unless you have some sort of magical superpower, that is the only way you can create more time to work on your art.  Wishing there was more time won’t help you, but actually stop doing other things will.

Here is a list of things I said “NO” to in order to create time to pursue art:

  1. Paycheck and benefits from having a full-time job since I cut back on my hours at my old day job
  2. Time with my husband
  3. Earlier bedtime
  4. Binge watching shows on Netflix
  5. Following other creative pursuits (e.g. crocheting, sewing, needle-felting etc.)
  6. Seeing friends
  7. I also stopped volunteering for a group I was with for many years at the end of 2014.  It was a very difficult choice but needed to happen.  I’ve said this before, but it’s not just time we’re concerned about.  You need to have enough mind space to do the creative work, too.

Not having a day job allows me more flexibility, but I still say no to a lot of things because I don’t want to go down a slippery slope.  I remind myself that I didn’t quit my day job to relax and have fun (=I’m not retired yet :))  Because I no longer have the external pressure, I need to be even more disciplined about how I spend my time now. 

If you’re reading this and thinking, “Well, I still have a day job (and/or kids, or any other major responsibilities) and can’t imagine fitting in a daily creative practice!!” don’t worry, I have some suggestions!

1) Identify your big goal and write down how having a daily creative practice is going to help you achieve the goal. 

For many people, it’s difficult to make a commitment or sacrifice something if you’re not connected to the goal or a cause on a personal level.

Start out by exploring why this is important to you.  Find your internal motivation.  Why do you want to do this?  It needs to be your choice.  Not because I’m telling you to do it or everyone else is doing it.

How would your life be different if you made art every day?  How could your daily practice get you closer to your dream?  Write them down and read it whenever you feel discouraged!

2) Review your daily routine and identify “time wasters.” 

How much time do you spend scrolling through your social media feeds?  Or watching endless funny cat videos on YouTube? I know they want you to spend as long as you can on there.  Or binge watching shows on Netflix every night because some of the shows are SO addictive?  (Hello, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!)  I’m not immune to it myself, nor am I saying you can’t have any of it.

I’m just saying be mindful of how much time you’re spending on things that do not get you closer to achieving your goal.  You might need to be your own parents sometimes and say things like, “No Facebook until your daily practice is done!”

The way I manage it is: I check my email and all of my social media after breakfast and respond to everything I can then.  Then throughout the day, I post things or respond to things as I take my mini breaks between my focused work time.  I take about 15-30 minutes each time to do so depending on what I need to do and how long I’ve been working.  Once my break is over, I close all the unnecessary tabs on browser, put my phone on airplane mode, and get back to work.  Before Dinner, I check everything again for the last time that day.

We watch one episode of a show we like on Netflix during dinner, and one episode is about 40 minutes.  If I have more work to do after dinner, then I’ll do that after one episode and may resume watching more after my work is done if it’s not too late (remember I try to go to bed by 10 nowadays…)  If I had a super productive day before dinner or it’s my day off, then we splurge and binge watch something or watch a movie.

3) Think before saying “YES”

Do you like to help people?  Do you have skills other people value?  Or are you just so awesome that people want to do things with you all the time?  These are not bad things!

But saying “YES” to everything you’re invited to will definitely not help you have more time for a daily creative practice.  When someone asks you to ______ (e.g. volunteer, attend a charity event, go see a movie, babysit etc.), know it’s OK to think before giving them an answer.

“NO” is always an option.  That’s why people ask, not command.  (Note: If your friend is demanding you to do something for them, well, then it’s time to evaluate your relationship… )  People are resourceful.  They will find another solution if you can’t help them.

If you feel selfish prioritizing your needs before others’, imagine one of your closest friends saying no to one of your events because they’re working hard to make their dream come true.  Yes you might feel disappointed, but you also want to understand and support them.  You can always appreciate their invitation and let them know that it’s not a “NO” forever.

4) Schedule time and stick to it. 

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know this is my mantra.  If there is a regular time that works for you, even better.

What about getting up a little bit earlier before your family wakes up?  Or later in the evening after they go to bed?  Lunch time at the office?  Or doodle during your meetings?  If you can’t take a chunk of time, even 15 minutes would work to do a quick sketch of whatever you have.  If it takes too much time to decide what to draw every day, draw the same thing every day but from a different angle or use a different medium.  Try a different color pallet.  Draw it in different styles or proportions.  Enjoy the process!

5) Focus your goal around consistency and not how perfect it is.

I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again.  Your success should be measured by the act of creating something every day and not by how perfect it is.  Oftentimes people get discouraged and quit because they have a vision of what their creation should look like, and what they make isn’t perfect.  Make it your goal to show up every day even if your work isn’t a masterpiece.  Keep showing up and practice, and you will produce higher quality work more consistently!

6) Know what works for you and your situation.

Be creative in your problem solving.  You know your situation and what works for you the best.  I’m a big fan of structure, daily routine, and public accountability, but I know it doesn’t work for everyone.  Some people prefer having more flexible tools or having a one-on-one accountability, like having a coach, to stay motivated.

I mostly share tools that work for me not because they’re better than other methods – I want to demonstrate to you that when you stick to things that work for you, you can achieve higher results.

I hope these tips were helpful!  What can you do today to get closer to your dream goal?  I’ll be back with more tools for motivation next week 🙂

Talk to you soon!

xoxo Yuko




My productivity tip? Hit the pause button.

pause-button_loresHi friend,

I originally wrote this piece for my September Newsletter and got very positive feedbacks.  So I wanted to share this with you, my awesome blog reader, with some added contents!  Enjoy!

It’s already mid-September and is kind of crazy that more than one month has passed since I quit my day job!  It totally doesn’t feel like it.

I thought not having a regular routine would make my days feel a lot longer, but nope.  In fact, they feel a lot shorter than when I was juggling a day job and art.  Which is an interesting phenomenon.  Is it because I’m having fun??  Maybe.

I feel busier than ever.  My calendar is filled with back-to-back tasks.  Some days, I can only accomplish one of those to-dos and feel bad.  Days and weeks pass by, and I wonder where all of my “extra” time has gone?

Although I’m excited and motivated every day, to be completely honest, I’ve been pretty overwhelmed, too.

I dreamed of becoming a full-time artist for a long time.  And now that I finally have the life I wanted so much, I want to make everything I do count towards my success.  I push myself every day to accomplish as much as I can.  And then only a few weeks into my new artist life, I started noticing signs of burnout.

It was a day after a craft show in August. I felt so exhausted physically and mentally.  My body was aching from carrying my show supplies, too.  I didn’t want to do or think about anything.  I didn’t care about anything.  I was running on empty.

But, wait a minute.  I can’t be burned out.  I’m living my dream!  Right?

I was confused and frustrated.  Am I not cut out for this?  Do I not have what it takes to have a successful business?  Why would following a passion make me burn out?

What do I do when I feel overwhelmed and lost?  Well, I decided to follow my own advice: slow down and be kind to yourself. 

So I hit the pause button.  

Let’s think about this.  I left my day job, where I created my community and my identity for the last 14+ years, only a month ago.  It’s one of the biggest life transitions I’ve ever experienced.  No matter how exciting it is, it is also massively stressful.  Working on my business and making art non-stop, though exhilarating, would of course result in burnout if I don’t take care of myself intentionally.

I realized putting in a safeguard from burnout is probably one of the best things I could do for my long-term success.

So here are things I’ve been doing to take care of myself and be productive.  As you can see, these are small things you can incorporate into your daily life, too, if you’re looking for different tools to try!

  • I try not to multi-task.  Instead, I try to tackle one thing at a time in a very focused way.  My focused time looks like this: turning my cell phone on airplane mode, setting an alarm (anywhere between 30 minutes to one hour depending on how I’m feeling and what I’m working on), closing social media and email tabs on my browser, and letting my husband/office mate know that I’m not available (we share our home office when he’s not traveling for work).  Then I’ll just start working on one task on my agenda.  I might work on a blog post.  I might work on a new art piece.  Until the alarm goes off, I’m not checking my email or social media.  Or talk to anyone (ok, occasionally I pet my kitty if he insists).  When the alarm goes off, if I’m at a good stopping point, I’ll stop and take a break (e.g. get up and stretch, grab snacks, check my social media, email etc.).  If I’m on a roll, I’ll just keep working on it until I’m done or at a good stopping point.  After taking a break, I repeat the process to continue working on the same project or work on something else.  This method helps me avoid wasting my mental energy from switching from one thing to another.  My ability to focus has improved by following this process, and sometimes I can go for a couple of hours without taking a break!
  • I try to eat healthy meals rich with protein and good fats.  Fortunately, I never forget to eat 🙂  I get hungry every few hours and am not functional if I’m hungry.  As hard as it is, I try to minimize my sugar intake to maintain stable energy level throughout the day.  It’s easier said than done, though, because I LOVE chocolate.  I allow myself to have small amount of sugar after having a meal.  My go-to snacks lately are: pistachios, dark-dark chocolate with some coconut butter (meet Coconut Manna, my favorite coconut butter), and LÄRABAR ÜBER™!
  • I don’t check my email after dinner.  When I had a day job, my boundaries were a lot clearer because my “work” email was not on my phone.  I wouldn’t know if people had questions or needed something from me on my off days unless I go out of my way to check it from home (which I hardly ever did.)  Now things are different because my “work” and personal email come to the same inbox.  Yes, I could just read it and not respond until next business day, but it would still take up mental space if I knew those emails were waiting for me.
  • I try to go to bed by 10pm so I can get up rested and early the next morning.  I usually get up between 6 and 6:30am and go to the gym or start my day early.  It’s a nice feeling to get a couple of things done before lunch.  I have more mental energy in the morning as well and feel more ready to tackle things I don’t like, like doing my finances, in the morning rather than later in the day.  7 to 8 hour sleep is my ideal.
  • No screen time one hour before bed.  I’ve read several articles that suggest blue light from your electric devices keep your brains from producing sleepy hormone called melatonin.  My naturopath once suggested no screen time two hours before bedtime, but I find one hour to be more do-able.  It helps clam my mind and makes the transition to bedtime easier.
  • No work on Sundays.  It didn’t help that my husband was away for work most of August.  I could’ve literally kept working during all of my waking hours if I wanted to.  But it’s not healthy for me or for our relationship if I focus on my business all the time.  As a person who thrive in structure, I decided to take at least one day off per week.  Sunday seems the most convenient as the rest of the world takes the day off too, but you can designate any other days that work for you and your family.  If you don’t need structure as much as I do, taking a few hours off here and there may work although your brain still has to work on switching from work to non-work mode, and you might not get as much rest that way.  And, of course, schedule your day off on your calendar.  Otherwise, you’ll just find more things to do and keep working!

I’m not perfect and don’t always follow my own advice, but it’s been helping me feel more spacious and less drained.

It’s a fact: there will always be things to do, and you can’t always get to everything.  My learning is to be OK with not getting everything done and knowing it’s going to be fine.

Although it may feel counter-intuitive, by setting boundaries around how much I “work,” I’ve become more productive and happy.  My dream life feels more sustainable now!

As we move into the new seasons, there will be more things to do and transitions to manage.  Put your self-care plan in place before things get too stressful.  Just like everything else, daily practice will help you form a habit!  Your future self will thank you later 🙂

Thank you for hanging out with me and looking forward to seeing you next week!

xoxo Yuko

p.s. If you’re in Seattle next Saturday, September 19th, come by the Summer Parkways Event in Ballard!  I will be joining their craft fair from 10am to 6 pm.



Quitting my day job cold turkey was not my plan A.


How’re you doing?  I’ve been sensing the seasons change every day.  The days are getting a little shorter, and the air is becoming more crisp.  Are you noticing any changes?

I want to make a quick announcement to friends in the Seattle area – I’m having another art show this month at Tin Umbrella Coffee (5600 Rainier Ave S, Seattle 98118).  Some of my original drawings from my 365 Day Happiness Project will be on display and for sale until the end of September!  I’m also having a reception on Saturday September 12, 12-2pm, so if you’re in the area, come say hi 🙂  I’m having a sweet giveaway too! Woo hoo!

OK, so have you read my blog last week?  I talked about how day jobs can help you learn skills that go beyond just your day job and help you in your creative endeavors too.

I also mentioned that I was planning on staying at my day job for a couple more years because I wasn’t financially ready to quit yet.  Day jobs provide the financial stability so you can work on your creative pursuit without compromising your values. 

So why did I decide to quit cold turkey?

Although I had many great things going on at my day job, I was becoming increasingly frustrated and unhappy that I wasn’t able to spend more time working on my art and business.  There were many changes happening at work, and I was under a lot of stress.  I wasn’t sleeping well and started having some stress-related health issues.  I felt like the good things were no longer good enough for me to stay.

I felt like my soul was dying a little bit every day. 

And it’s not fair for the employer to keep investing in employees who are not in it 100%, either.  I knew I had to make a very difficult decision in order for me to take care of myself and be happy.

I took one week staycation in June to take a break and think about what I needed.  When I asked my husband Dave if I could quit my day job without having another job, he said, “Absolutely” without hesitation.

He understood the challenges I was having and was very supportive of me taking care of myself.  I can’t express how relieved I was to have his blessings.  It was super important to me that he was comfortable with the big change, and I would’ve stayed a bit longer if he had any reservations about it.

After our initial talk, we sat down to figure out the details.  We knew I wasn’t going to have a steady income for a while from my art business alone.  What we needed to know was exactly how long we can go with just one income.

Here are some of our processes and factors that went into our decision making:

  1. We looked at our finances and figured out our projection for the rest of the year.
    • We made a realistic estimate of the money we’re going to be bringing in and our expenses for the rest of 2015 and did the math.
    • We also created the worst case scenario and the best case scenario.  We reviewed how much we have in cash savings and other forms of assets.  In worst case scenario, we have some safety net.  In best case scenario (e.g. Dave gets more gigs, my business gets a lot more profitable etc.), we could go longer without me having to get a day job.
    • We decided not cut out everything that’s “unnecessary” like Netflix subscription and occasional entertainment.  It would be too stressful to not have any room for fun stuff.  I’m also keeping my gym membership not only because I have to pay a penalty to get out of a contract, but also because $45 a month is a really good investment in my long-term health and sanity.  We already live pretty simply and don’t have a lot of unnecessary expenses, so this wasn’t a painful process.
    • According to our projection, we’d be OK until the end of 2015.  Dave’s income would be put towards his business and our living expenses for now.  What I earn from my art business will just pay for my business expenses until I start gaining more profits.
  2. Dave’s business has been picking up, so that was a big factor in deciding it would be OK for me not to have a steady income for a while.  Dave is also an entrepreneur (You can learn about what he does here.  He’s also written a book on Permaculture design recently.  Yea, he’s pretty cool.)
  3. We don’t have human children.  We have multiple pets.  They could be expensive but usually not as expensive human children.
  4. Our rent is relatively cheap.  We’ve lived in our apartment for several years and have a really good relationship with our landlord.  Our neighborhood has recently become more desirable and is being gentrified pretty quickly, though, so this could change in the future.  Hopefully not for a while…
  5. Neither of us has serious on-going health issues.  So we can afford to have the cheapest, crappiest healthcare insurance for now.  As someone who grew up in a country with free non-sucky healthcare, the healthcare system here is still mindboggling to me… Sigh.
  6. We don’t have debts.  It would’ve changed things if we had a big debt to pay off. 
  7. We’re pretty good at DYI.  We grow some of our vegetables and try to preserve excess seasonal harvest as much as we can.  I’ve been experimenting with fermentation and have not bought any miso from a store for the last 3 years!  Though I love buying other artists’ works, I make most of our greeting cards and little gifts for our friends and family.  We love thrift shopping and finding free stuff, too!

To be completely honest, after I gave my notice at my day job, I had occasional mini freak outs about our uncertain financial future.  What if something terrible happens or I don’t meet my revenue projection?  (Which I’ve already exceeded since then by the way.  Phew!)

Dave would patiently remind me that we made our plans carefully, and the very worst case scenario, we’d live in our car and figure out our next steps together.  His reassurance helped me be grounded, and I knew the first thing I needed to focus on was my business.

Can I just say I have an awesome partner?  I mean, I knew that all along, but going through life transitions together is making it even more evident.  I couldn’t have chosen a better person to be with!!! ❤

We just had our 2 year wedding anniversary! 2 years went by so fast :)
We just had our 2 year wedding anniversary!  Hooray for us!!  2 years went by so fast 🙂

In summary, consider these things before you quit your day job cold turkey:

  1. Have a financial back-up plan.  Walking out on a job Jerry Maguire style and becoming a starving artist may seem sort of romantic.  In reality, it would suck to not be able to pay your bills or lose your home to pursue your passion.  Look at your finances carefully and make a realistic projection.  If you quit your job cold turkey tomorrow, how would you cover your basic expenses?  Maybe your partner makes enough money.  Maybe you have healthy savings.  Are you open to shifting your lifestyle?  What are your “necessities?” Be realistic.  If you don’t have reasonable means to support yourself financially, consider practicing the Overlap Technique until you’re ready.
  2. Make sure your spouse/partner/family members are on the same page.  Changes are hard for everyone.  It can be scary when you don’t know what’s going to happen next.  You may have 100 good reasons for quitting your job, but your family might not know or understand them completely.  They might not be supportive of your decision, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care about you or your dreams.  It may just mean that they’re afraid of the unknown, or there are legitimate reasons why it’s not realistic at this time (e.g. kids, mortgage, paying off debts, other transitions in life, unstable relationship dynamics etc.)  Take your time to talk it out with your loved ones.  Listen to their concerns and feelings and validate what they’re going through.  Make back-up plans together.  If you decide you can’t quit your day job now, make other plans to take care of yourself whether it is for you to find another job or take advantage of the benefits you currently have (e.g. go to counseling, take a vacation etc.)
  3. Don’t burn bridges.  You’ve cultivated relationships and networks at your day job even if it’s not in the area of your passion.  Certainly, you don’t need to stay in a toxic relationship just to be nice.  Otherwise, try to maintain your professional relationships and connections.  Life transitions are hard no matter how much you wanted them to happen.  You can use as much support from people around you during and after the transition.  Also, if there is a possibility of you needing to get another day job down the road (see the next point), it would be helpful to know people and maintain a positive reputation within the industry you want employment opportunities in.
  4. Be open to the possibility of getting another day job if needed.  I’ve been working on growing my business for the last few years.  It’s been slow going, and I don’t know how many more years it’ll take before it becomes a thriving business.  I know that giving my 100% to the growth of my business now will push my business further ahead.  I also know I may need to get a day job at some point to pay our bills.  Our projection shows we’d be ok until the end of this year, but after that it all depends.  My long term success is too important for me, and I would rather take a day job and be selective of how I grow my business than taking any old work that comes my way and get burned out.  It would be hard for me to go back to having  a day job, of course, but I’m open to the possibility.  But if I do, hopefully, it would be shorter hours and/or less stressful!

Quitting my day job cold turkey was not my first choice.  But in hindsight, it was the kick in the pants I needed to take my art business to the next level.

The fact I haven’t regretted my decision even once since I quit means it was the right thing to do.  I’m happy.  I’m thriving.  I feel alive every day.

Love, Yuko