Thursday, June 16, 2011

The misery of free time

Or, struggling to manage myself (Part 1)

Since my contract ended as advisor on Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at KontraS on the 1st of May, I have had time off. I knew from the beginning my posting (by Togetthere) would only be for 18 months and had come up with the idea to write a novel about my family. I was inspired by Eat, Pray, Love, I guess, and envisioned a little house between Balinese rice fields where I would write for 3 months. After doing some initial research (interviewing some family members), I decided not to write the book. At least, not now. It's a great story, but too much to handle (believe me!). Jokingly I told my nephew, who had been helping me, that only he would be able to tell the story of how his aunt went insane, if I'd continue.

Sorry grandma, no 'Wild Swans' about you

No book then. But the idea of taking 3 months for myself still sounded very good. As my boyfriend was planning to start an online business, I figured we could do what Tim Ferriss advises us all to do: work remotely and take a mini retirement. That is, in short, how we ended up in Hanoi. After enjoying a holiday by the beach, writing out my notes and reports for Togetthere and going around Vietnam with my dad, I have now been behind my computer for a week and a half. You're probably wishing you could take a break from it all and take a few months to do anything you like. Well, I can tell you: this freedom is a pain!

All set to work!

Every day I have a new idea of what I could do or a different approach to what my life should look like. Do I want to do something meaningful or make buckets of cash? Or should I just try to find a niche to make some passive income on? This way, I'd have enough money to live from and could use all my time helping other people. Or should I start a social enterprise? Maybe I should just be a consultant in monitoring and evaluation, or a writer of blogs on coffee, or a remote English teacher for Indonesians. The web provides loads of inspirational material, but it's overwhelming too. Can I be as good as Salman Khan? Am I really the first female lifestyle designer? "Neh, don't be silly", my Dutch calvinist brain says (constantly), "Just act normal, that's crazy enough". Then another hour of browsing for a safe 9-5 job begins. For all my life, I've been trained to do what other people wanted me to do: homework at school, tasks at work. Now that I choose to be my own manager, I just cannot decide on what to do. 

Activists in Jakarta - they know what to fight for

Yes, I know: I have to not be too critical about my own ideas and set small goals for myself (I have read every single blog about this topic!). But the lizard brain is at work. As Seth Godin tells us, we all have a part of our brain that will resist to anything scary. In this case, I can tell you: I am scared shitless. I want to contribute to something bigger and I want everybody in the world to like it. Just the thought of you thinking "What is this girl doing?!" makes me want to hide my head under a pillow for the rest of the day. Instead of doing that, I have decided to drag you along with me. With this post I am starting a new series keeping you updated on my progress. Stay tuned for my next post! 

Any advise? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!


Gayathry said...

hey Amis! Isn't it tougher to have the time to "think and decide" what you want to do with life - the irony of the situation:) Anyway, sounds like you have a swell time, and when will you visit us?

Amis Boersma said...

Hi Gaya! Yup, I realize how ironic it is ;) Will be in touch about that visit!

Susan Soesilowati said...

I agree with you Gayathry!Amis wich job give you a sense of happiness and meaning,while simultaneously guaranteeing that you could pay your bills?Je hebt je 'vrijheid'maar betekent niet vrij zijn van moeijlijke keuzes,verdriet en onvemijdelijke levenswending.Nu weer in het Engels...Life is to precious to waste on lost opportunities and bad mistakes.Zo maak een kan alles,ik geloof in jou[Andre Hases)Je zal ook een top counsellor kunnen worden!!xxxx mama

Maria Alexandra said...

I know the feeling! At the moment, I hold a 9-5 (well, 8:30-5:30) job & can't wait for the day when I can finally feel FREE. I believe you can still do something you love, as crazy as it might be, while still being able to pay the bills. I recommend just going step-by-step: You can start your journey toward becoming a digital nomad by starting to take on small freelance projects, building a clientele. Then, when you finally start to get a relatively-steady flow of projects, just go. Until then, save save save. Sacrifices, cuts here & there, always focusing on your dream at the end of the tunnel. This is what I'm currently doing & it gives me a sense of security, while still filling me with joy as I know that I'm working toward FREEDOM! =)

Amis Boersma said...

Thank you, Maria, for sharing your story! It sounds very exciting what you're doing, so keep me posted!

Maaike said...

Pray more? be silent and the answer will reveal itself. Less is more. Loslaten van keuzes is moeilijk, maar de moeite waard en dan wordt alles vanzelf duidelijk.

Veel liefs van Maaike & Sofia oet Eindhoven & Enjoy your travel time...