Ms ZiYou 5 years ago

5 years ago my life was gathering momentum and money started to come in

Personally, I am always amazed at how much I have changed over the years. I’ve shared how I feel rich now and how just 10 years ago I was lost in life. A rather rapid turnaround you might ask, so what happened in between you ask? Let me share.

So, 5 years ago, my life improvement plan was well underway. I had invested a lot in personal development and self-reflection. And it was paying off – my career was on the upturn and I felt happier with life. I had just gone freelance and landed a contract that would make me six figures a year for the first time.

Let me introduce 32-year-old me

Ms ZiYou Big Ben

I had moved to London, the big smoke almost 2 years ago. And I had fallen in love with London – everything (ok, most things) about London gelled with me. The culture, theatres and museums really gripped my creative and artistic side. I never knew I needed this cultural void filled, but when it was there, I grabbed the opportunity with both arms. And it made me a better person, and so much happier.

I moved to London accidentally. Nonetheless, it was an amazing decision that to this day I am thankful I made. It helped open up the career opportunities for me. Then the 32 years old me finally struck it big – and landed an elusive six-figure income.

Awesome – so how did I get there from the 27-year old me?

Understanding the Game

Ms ZiYou Mastery

In order to succeed, I strongly believe you need to understand the game. And at 27 I was starting to piece together the game of work

In my line of work, there were several paths to success. Getting promoted in permanent jobs which required amazing relationships with your boss and their boss, then being an outstanding employee amongst your peers. The permanent promoted path does bring much more power and stepped salary increases. However, the downside is the workload and pressure can increase exponentially, much more than the compensation.

Or in my industry going freelance is an option. This involved being able to work with a wide range of people and execute at speed, in addition to having flexible top-notch technical skills. This path brings little power but significant riches. Moreover, the downside is not additional hours but the potential to be out of work and the potential for dull work.

Hatching The Plan

Then once you understand the lay of the land, you need a plan. I had worked out there were two options for me to proceed, and I decided I wanted to pursue the freelance option. But ever the realist, I knew I was not ready for this yet. There was no way that 27-year old me had the skills or aptitude yet to go freelance.

Therefore, I began planning on how to get me there. I identified what skills I needed to work on and what experience I needed. And the first thing I needed was a new job with opportunities for more challenging work with varying stakeholders. I knew that I needed another role that would help me move towards my goal, as a sort of stepping stone.

On the personal side, I had realised life was not making me happy. So I started trying to understand what made me happy. And personal happiness is a much harder nut to crack than career growth – it’s just so much more complex. But I understood I needed to undertake a trial and error approach and embrace life.

Executing the Plan

Once I had the plan, it was execution time. I needed to ruthlessly pursue a new role. And work on me to get me into the right place to be successful at landing the next role. Moreover, I need to be strong and not take any job. I needed to only take the right role, that would offer me the opportunities I desperately craved to get to my final goal.

And finally, at the age of 30, I caught a break and got offered the right job. This job would be a great stepping stone to my ultimate freelance dreams and give me the experience I wanted.

Personally, I knew that I need to spend more time doing things I loved. At this time these included getting out in nature, walking and exploring the UK. And I also began to read more widely and really experience the cultural offerings in London.

Staying the Course

I have to say, this is the boring bit. Really. It’s also where the going gets really tough. Rough patches and challenges come out of nowhere. As cliched as it is, you can tell who will succeed by who makes it through the rough patches. Expect the going to get rough and have a plan to deal with it.

I know I had many tough patches. It took a few years to work out what I wanted to do, and then another year to get to the first stepping stone. I had to persevere and keep to the plan, with the end goal always in mind.

And even the stepping stone job was not perfect. There were lots of late nights and 60 hour weeks that made me question if I had made the right choice? But I had the end goal in sight and needed to just keep on going. The end goal was in sight.

The Riches

Ms ZiYou Riches

And finally,  5 years ago at 32, I managed to get there. The freelance job was mine. After I spent the first 5 years of the plan in the grind, I start to see the benefits.

I still remember that excitement when I realised that I would be earning six figures. It did not seem real to me hence I was afraid it might not last. I certainly had a bit of imposter syndrome then, there is no denying it.

Why am writing this?

I’m sure no-one really cares about 32-year-old me. I know I don’t. But she has an important story to tell us all. If you want to change your life you can – but it might be a long process. Don’t expect immediate results, but the rewards will come to those who stick the course.

This is a call to action. Be bold. You can change.

If I can do it – why can’t you?

Over to you

  • What are your thoughts?
  • Where were you 5 years ago?
  • Are you also amazed at how much you change over the years?

Thank you for reading – please leave a comment below and join in the conversation. You can also connect on Twitter or contact me privately.


20 comments on “5 years ago my life was gathering momentum and money started to come in

  1. Great to see some of the steps you took to get to a place in life where you were happy.Thanks for sharing!

    As for where I was 5 years ago, I think I was pretty much half way through my PhD. As I alluded to before, it has led to a pretty comfortable life on a decent salary and some fantastic life experiences, but not necessarily what I want to continue doing for the next 20 years. This post and your previous one has inspired me to come up with a plan of my own!

    1. Thanks for commenting Dr FIRE – I am so impressed that you made it through a PhD – that alone shows you have the determination and grit to get anything you want.

      And yes, coming up with a life plan is so liberating – I’d love to read yours once you’ve got it drafted.

  2. That boring part is the most difficult to endure. Nothing seems to happen, you wonder if you are in the right path or not… But it is such a key part of the process.

    Not long ago I did my first freelance project and had a severe case of imposter syndrome. Even today, I still doubt myself sometimes.

    1. Hi Mr Lyn – yes, I agree the boring sticking with the course part is hard – as you ultimately have to wait for luck – an opportunity coming up at the right time.

      Congrats on your first freelance project – that is awesome. I think we all go through a phase of suffering from imposter syndrome.

  3. Good job with re-directing your career. I’ve always planned on turning to contracting, I just always seem to end up in another permenant role.

    5 years ago for me was when I was just leaving university and starting my first programming job. Back then I really cared about each 1k difference in pay, but if I could look back now, I’d tell myself to just wait and chill out. I shouldn’t care too much about 1-2k as after a couple of years my salary would jump up by much more. I just had to grind through the early days!

    One thing which helped me was moving company every 1 and a half years. The leaps and bounds your salary takes when changing position is much more than the promotions you get, and your next jobs position (in the bigger corporations) would actually go off what your currently earning.

    Do you do your own accounting or hire an accountant? I’ve opted for doing my own for my small side business, but not sure if I would if I went contracting. I just hate the thought of paying someone over £100 per month when they probably only look at your file once per year.

    1. Hi Savings Ninja – I would certainly recommend contracting, once you have some solid, ideally consulting experience. And yes I agree job hopping is essential to increase your salary, skills and ability to work in different environments.

      Bless, running your own limited company is more complex than looking at a file once a year! HMRC requires payroll data and payments monthly, VAT returns and payment quarterly and corporation tax yearly. And then HMRC want your payments on account twice yearly and any further balances yearly. Not to mention filing accounts etc with companies house.

      1. Maybe I’ll try it out in a year or so 🙂

        My current limited company hasn’t been too difficult to account for myself. Although, I don’t have any PAYE earnings, VAT returns or pension contributions to make. I just use it for expensing tech and occasionally paying a dividend. Without PAYE, I just have to file my corporation tax and confirmation statements once per year. I’d have to submit my self assessment tax return anyway.

        Maybe it would become more complicated once I’m over the VAT threshold and it’s my only income (so I need to set up a small PAYE amount).

  4. Your posts are always so inspiring to me. I was 27 year old you to a T. I still have no idea what I want to do with my life, and I just turned 26. It feels like I’m missing some motivational chip! A lot of PF bloggers already know what career they want. I pivoted into a new career and still floundering.
    I do hope in a decade I’m just like you. 🙂

    1. Hey Steph – I’m pretty sure I had no motivational chip either at 26! And PF bloggers do tend towards the overly ambitious Type A personalities!

      PS You are not floundering – you have a fabulous new job that you are finding your feet in. And you’ll be much more awesome than me in ten years!

  5. I’m going to jump back to 9 years ago, I was unemployed for 7 months, and was contemplating moving 1,000 miles away to love at home with Mom and Dad (which I ended up doing for 2.25 years). 9-years-ago me would have been thrilled for 5-years-ago me to have a steady job and salary of $50k… But I dreaded going into that job and the stress led to a 40-pound weight gain in 5 months during the worst of it.
    4 years ago I hatched my escape plan, but it came at considerable cost: 20% reduction in pay, and loss of benefits such as paid holidays/vacation and no pension plan. But it was the perfect stepping stone! The job included tons of travel, which led to statewide exposure in my field. 2.5 years ago, I was elected to the board of my professional organization of my state. Involvement there has led to greater understanding of many issues, and tremendous contacts who know I’m reliable and trustworthy. This led to the job I just started 4 months ago working for another board member, at nearly 60% pay increase (plus I get benefits again!) above that job from 4 years ago. And in 5.5 years, I’ll be president of my state association! A lot of things can change in 5 years, and I’m so excited to continue the journey!

    1. Hey Josh – so sorry to hear about that patch 9 years ago – but wow, how awesome that you also made an escape plan.

      And your progress from that stepping stone job is awe inspiring – that is such a great story and much more to come.

  6. Thanks for sharing, Ms ZiYou, really interesting to read how you got where you are now and what a great effort, well deserved!

    Five years ago, I thought that I really had all my sh*t together.

    The company I worked for had stabilised and had finally emerged from the doom and gloom that was the financial crisis and after a 4-year cap, motivation was up as we finally got a pay rise (albeit a paltry 3%) and a budget for the Christmas party (cost cutting meant no parties in the previous 3 years) was announced so it was cause to celebrate! I was enjoying my work and a great social life. All my credit card debts had been paid off by this point, I was staying out of debt, had a little pot of money and was enjoying at least 2 foreign holidays a year.

    Five years ago this month was also just 6 months before I happened upon MMM and the concept of FIRE and as you know, my life or rather my outlook on life and my future changed from that point.

    To this day, I still don’t know how or why I came across his blog – I was in a happy place, not looking to escape my job or to change my life. It’s a mystery to me!

    1. Hey Weenie – that sounds amazing 5 years ago -you have everything together and just stumbled across FIRE blogs. You were in the perfect place to dig in and I love how you don’t know how you find them!

What do you think?