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This is a guest submission by Shane from Rewirebusiness.com

April 11th, 2011, the day that will forever be etched in my mind.  Two significant things happened that day which would force me to make decisions I was not even aware I would have to face.  Welcome to leaving the grind and losing your safety net on the same day.

The Daily Grind

For over 11 years I worked as a network engineer in a cushy job with a great salary.  It was a fairly typical IT job that offered all the benefits, great pay, travel, etc.  But during that time I was beginning to understand what was really going on and why it wasn’t working for me.

I was simply renting out my brian to an organization that, quite frankly, didn’t give a crap about what made me productive, my goals, my happiness, or my dignity.  It was the typical work/life template that we all fall into and I became a different person: sore shoulders from stress, depressed, angry, frustrated, and anxious.

Have you ever felt like this?  Ever felt like you followed the typical template and went to school, got a job, and then simply existed?  Ever felt like a part of you was slowly dying and missing out on what you really, truly wanted to be doing?  Ever felt stuck?  That’s exactly where I was and I knew it was time to do something about it.

It’s easier said than done though, because we have bills, mortgages, and other responsibilities that we see as barriers to leaving the grind and living/working on our own terms.

Add to this the fear, uncertainty, and the years of being taught that work has to be treacherous and hard, and you have the perfect storm for why most people stay in the grind.

But I couldn’t do it any longer. Life only visits you once. One time. One shot. That’s it and then you can’t ever go back.

Building The Side Business

In March of 2010, I woke up one day and had this urge to work for myself. I can’t quite describe the feeling other than a drive to better myself by living on my own terms. I wanted to make better decisions, call the shots, and work when I wanted to work. I wanted to actually turn working into enjoyment and put other things first in my life that were far more important: family, hobbies, events, etc.

I did not have a clue about “my purpose” or any of that but I did feel that working online was perfect for me since it has low overhead and I could be location independent.

Knowing this I began snooping around online and I ended up joining a paid marketing forum, known as Third Tribe Marketing that was started by Brian Clark, Chris Brogan, Darren Rowse, and Sonia Simone.  And one day there was a post that mentioned affiliate marketing. Not sure what this was, I started researching it and it led me to reading work by Rae Hoffman.  She is a super-affiliate that lives quite well.

One of her blog posts talked about “branded affiliate blogs” as the future of affiliate marketing.  These are blogs that discuss a topic, like her Blackberry and Android blogs, but they have a brand name and loyal community.

I thought this was pretty interesting actually and saw it as something you could do that was both helpful and made good money from traffic, ads, and promoting products you believed in.

About a month into absorbing this information on affiliate blogs, I was walking across the street and saw something in my twitter stream referring to a domain name for sale. The particular name had the word “iPad” in it and I think it took me all of 5 seconds to make a connection that this would make a perfect branded affiliate blog since I also owned and loved my new iPad and since I had a gut feeling the market was emerging.

Within 48-hours of working around-the-clock, I had my own branded affiliate blog set up.

I began posting up to five times per day at over 1,000 words per post. I learned SEO. I did press releases. I live-blogged all the Apple events.  I worked so hard that within 7 months, I had 12,000 daily visitors.

I was also nearly matching my monthly income at work with three primary income streams: Google Adsense, Amazon affiliate programs, and iPad app affiliate programs.

The Day I Knew

About one week after I hit my 12,000 visitor mark I had my “yearly review” at work.  I hated these because it’s so demeaning and a complete waste of an hour of my life.  And as I was sitting there, listening to how the company decided not to give raises (again), I made my mind up: I was done.

I distinctly remember walking out of that room looking around at what I knew for the past 11 years and knowing I was finally breaking free. In all honesty, I felt like I was just getting out of jail after serving a long sentence.

So now I was certain that I was going to quit and in preparation for my new life, I had a million things to do..  Here’s what I did:

  • Short-sold my drastically underwater house
  • Squeezed everything from my tax return to pay off 2 credit cards
  • Sold a ton of stuff to pay off one more credit card and that left me with 1 remaining
  • Got rid of things I really did not need any longer which added to clutter
  • Saved all my vacation hours to cash out and use for savings

The Day I Quit

I made my plans and the day I would give notice was on April 11th, 2011.  I won’t lie, it was both a feeling of elation and a feeling of not knowing what the hell I was doing.  I had panic attacks, anxiety, and could not eat for weeks. Scary stuff here when you make this big of a decision.

So the day came.

At 12:35 pm I gave my notice.  I was shaking.  It was like time had suddenly stopped and everything was a big blur around me.  But I did it. By the way, try explaining to your “boss” that you are quitting because you are blogging. He didn’t get it as I suspected.  He also had no life and was miserable.

What happens next is where I was forced to face the biggest decision of my life.

The Panda Attack

On April 11th, 2011 at about 5:35 pm, I was still feeling anxious about quitting my job and decided to stop in at my favorite sandwich shop.  Food always calms my nerves. As part of my daily routine, I would check my traffic numbers, my Google Adsense income, and my Amazon Affiliate income.  When you have 12,000 visitors per day things are fairly consistent.

I used my phone to pull up my stats and noticed something was terribly wrong.  The traffic that day was around 1,000 visits. The income was nearly zero. My heard started pounding. I could feel it. I denied it at first and said to myself that it was just a slow Monday.

But I was wrong. It was not a slow Monday.  I had been crushed by Google’s latest algorithm update called Panda.

Basically, Google penalized my site because it was so new and because there were 8 other sites scraping (duplicating) my content and I was seen as a huge content farm.

Now imagine that you are sitting there on the day you quit your job and your side-business has withers away.  That was a situation I thought I would never be in.  But it can happen to anyone.  When you rely solely on one source for your traffic and income (Google), it can happen.

So I felt like I was standing on a cliff.  I either walk back to the day-job or I jump.

I chose to jump.

After trying to fix my blog as best as I could, I ended up selling it and that, along with my vacation money, was put into my savings.

Essentially, I had forced myself into a world I always wanted to be in, but the circumstances were not what I thought they would be.  And that takes guts.  But for all the years leading up to this, I was simply existing and rotting away in the workplace. I would rather, quite honestly, live in a van down by the river than go back.

Where I’m At Now

Branded affiliate blogs are a great way to earn a living. It’s a lot of work. A lot. But it was my side-business, not my purpose. Today, I have my own business helping people live a simpler life, transition from the workplace to doing work they are passionate about, and challenging the status quo.

Why do I do this?  Because while I was in IT, that was not the work I was happy doing, it was just the work I did because it was a “hot trend” at one time.  My purpose is helping others.  And I feel a lot of people are in careers they really aren’t happy doing for one reason or another.

The grind isn’t for me. It may be perfectly fine for some, but for me and millions of others, it only offers the opportunity to simply exist.  And there is no amount of money that can replace that feeling of being in control of your own work.

There are always going to be barriers in our way. But they can be dealt with. If there is a will, there is a way.  That phrase never meant so much to me as it did when I decided to leave the grind.  And it means just as much today as I face the unknown again.

So, what risks are you willing to take in order to pursue your true purpose?

Shane Ketterman offers work that helps people live simpler lives, find their true purpose, and transition to doing work they were meant to do.  He helps people invest in their future selves.  His work can be seen at rewirebusiness.com

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