So you have finished the first step—you identified your passion and set a long-term goal. Now you need to take things one step further and set some short-term goals to keep you marching towards your ultimate desire—location independence. Let’s return back to my example. At the end of the last post I had developed the long-term goal of turning my love of IT into something that would support me regardless of my location. Currently, I do that via fixing hacked WordPress sites, but to get here I had to develop my skills.
That’s right. There is actually some work and time investment involved in this whole process. I wish I could say that it’s as easy as 1-2-3, and you can go out tomorrow and start supporting yourself in a location independent fashion, but unless you’ve already developed your skills in your field of interest, then you need to do a little work before you quit your desk job and jump on a plane to Thailand. Here is a brief rundown of how I developed the skills that now allow me work remotely…
I went to college and earned a BS in Computer Science with a minor in Information Security. I did an internship at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center the summer after graduation. I spent a year in National Service through AmeriCorps doing free IT consulting for a nonprofit literacy council in Sarasota, FL. Finally, I spent 2 years freelancing with local businesses in Southwest Florida gaining the experience I would need to start a profitable business I could do completely remotely.
So, as you can see, I spent something like 7 years developing my skills. Don’t let this crush your dreams though. I choose to move at this pace. That doesn’t mean you need to spend 7 years developing your skills. In all honesty, my 4 years in college were pretty much a waste. Everything of value I learned there I essentially taught myself. But, I was raised to believe I needed that degree to be successful, that piece of paper, and in some ways it really does lend credibility to my technical skills.
In the US, it also opens doors that otherwise would not have be opened regardless how advanced my skills were. I would not have even been considered for the NASA internship, nor would I have been a top pick for my AmeriCorps placement. There are also clients that probably wouldn’t take me seriously without that degree. The bottom line is you don’t have to go out and get a degree or spend 7 years developing your skills to get where you need to be; I am simply using myself as an example.
I could have just as easily spent a year or two living at home after high school watching YouTube programming tutorials and utilizing free training materials online and developed the same skills I have today. It would certainly take a bit more discipline, but regardless, with enough self-determination the end result would be just about the same. My clients today mostly come via referrals from previous clients, and they have no idea how old I am or that I have a BS in Computer Science. All they really care about is that someone they trust recommended me, and that’s enough.
So if your passion is gardening, become an expert at it. Take the classes to become a certified Master Gardener if you don’t have the discipline to train yourself. If you don’t want to train yourself, go online and read, read, read. Hit the library and study the art. Practice what you learn. Try to get part-time employment in the field or just simply volunteer at a nursery. Don’t focus on making a bunch of money now. Consider this period an investment in your future. You are simply practicing and learning the skills that you will turn around and use to build your own business in a year or two. Make connections with current professionals that you can leverage when the time comes.
Once you’ve set up your short-term skill-development goals, you can go out and complete them! Then come back here and read Step 3: Leveraging Your New Skill-Set…