I just quit my job in a bad economy. Yes, really.

betty ming liu Inspiration, Money, Writing how-to's 62 Comments

After 16 months of full-time journalism, I am now officially unemployed. Never ever before have I quit a job without lining up a new gig. And so begins the next adventure, of reinventing myself — yet again — while living off my savings.

This is incredibly scary for me. As a single mom with a kid going off to college, there’s a lot of financial responsibility on my shoulders. Health insurance alone is going to be very, very expensive. The bill will run anywhere from nearly $900 to $1,500 per month, out of pocket, depending on the plan I finally decide to choose…

But things evolve and it was time to move on. For me, that’s one of the benefits of having life experience; I know now. I can tell when situations demand me to make outside-the-box changes. It was great working with a team of wonderful people, who I will miss a lot. And oh my goodness, the skills and knowledge that I now have about 21st century journalism! The parting was cordial, which is very important to me.

What next? Hmmmm. Well, after 16 months of working my butt off in the demanding world of digital journalism, it’s time to catch up on me. Here’s my to-do list…

8 benefits to quitting my job

I want to self-publish a book. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that this is an on-going yearning. Maybe not the most practical solution for making money, but crucial for personal fulfillment. The rough first draft is done and I’m ready to rock this dream!

Expanding my YouTube presence. There’s not much up right now but look for more. During recent One-to-One training lessons at the Apple Store, I’ve learned to use Final Cut Pro X. Now it’s my chance to put those skills to practice in editing my own how-to videos about all kinds of things. Stay tuned!

Spend time with my daughter. She is now a college-bound, young woman. If you’ve been through this stage with a kid, you know that part of me wants to scream. So much going on, on multiple levels. Major transitions in our relationship. There’s also the fun ahead of prom and graduation. Really glad that I now have the time to fully engage in the moments ahead.

— Start dating again. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve been in a relationship. With a full-time job, I was married to my work. But maybe there’s a chance for a shared life ahead. I’ve grown up a lot over the past two years and am much more willing to risk the vulnerability and intimacy required to be with a significant other.

— Start painting again. The easel and my oils have been calling to me. Over the past year, I’ve also been ripping out stuff from the newspaper in hopes of collaging with newsprint someday. Well, maybe “someday” is on the near horizon.

— Jump start my teaching career. I left a great teaching career for the adventure of being a digital journalist filing daily stories online. And every day, part of me missed being around young people. Even though all the colleges that I taught at said that they’d love for me to return one day, most of my gigs are gone. But I do have one assignment for the fall: I’ll be teaching food writing to undergraduate journalism majors at NYU.

Catch up on home repairs. My sweet little house could be in much better shape. It really bothers me that the screen on my front porch door has been busted for the past year. My deck posts are rotting away and need to be replaced. Yes, this means dipping more into savings. But I can’t let my house fall apart. It’s my main asset and needs to be maintained.

— Catch up on my sleep. Yesterday morning at around 9 a.m., my daughter knocked on my bedroom door and hollered for me, sounding worried. She wanted to know if I was sick because I’m usually up very early. Helloooo, can’t Mommy sleep in on a Sunday morning? Haha. 

That’s the list for now. The idea of risking big for big dreams is exciting to me. This is a lot for anyone but especially for someone my age. I will turn 57 this summer!

Ultimately, the goal is to establish myself as a brand with useful information and inspiration worth sharing — which leads to the next thing, and it involves you…

I need an audience to make all of this work. If I can build the traffic numbers on my blog, it will make it easier to market my book and YouTube videos. So, if you haven’t subscribed yet to my blog, please do join me! And if you know anyone who might be interested in my progress, please share the link to my blog.

There’s a lot of unemployed people in this economy. You might have even seen the New York Times story about the rise in suicide rates among middle-aged baby boomers who are stressed out by financial worries and the economy. Well, even though I fit the demographic, I am here to prove that the best of my life is just ahead.

Hope you’ll stick with me for this new adventure — because your company will make a difference. And please feel free to leave suggestions and feedback in the comment sections below. After all, this is a shared adventure! xoxoxoxoxo.

Comments 62

  1. You are an inspiration to me (and many others!) Can’t wait to see your book published!!
    One of these days would love to work on some kind of art video project with you……………….

  2. Perhaps I can help with some astrology timing. Happy to look at your chart – that will give you an indication of how big a change this is. Send me an email. Its easier to plan the future when you know the road ahead.

  3. WOW! You have courage – no one can deny it. I’m delighted to learn you are returning to teaching, even if only in a limited way. I know from Billy’s experience that you are a superb teacher and there are always too few of those. As for self-publishing, it does seem to be the wave of the future. As a magazine editor, a lot of books come “over the transom,” hoping for a review and I must say, by far the most interesting tend to be self-published these days. It also means self-promotion, which is a lot of work, but it can pay-off. I know of one author whose first book we enthusiastically reviewed – perhaps the only publication to review it. That led to a second book which in turn led to her being picked up by a publisher and she was off and running. There is a lot of competition of course, but in what endeavor is there not? Usually, I think, the cream does rise – or often anyway – well…at least it does sometimes. We hope for the best.

  4. Good morning! I can’t wait to respond when I get home to all of this! Betty, I am proud of you and everything you are setting out to do. Looking forward to the book and your next adventures. Even though this looks a little scray, I’ve heard it said before by Joyce Meyer that sometimes you have to “do it afraid.” It’s still doing!!
    You rock, Betty, and you are a brand in the making to be reckoned with!

    Here’s to more reinvention, more sleep and knowing when to move on. Love you!

  5. You GO Betty, you amazing woman!! I definitely want to hook you up with Amy Edelman, who founded IndieReader.com, knows all about indie publishing, and who trusts the universe with her wild leaps of faith. Actually I’m surprised you don’t already know each other! Now about newsprint. Get some newsprint colored acid-free paper and xerox that stuff if you ever want to see it again. The best drawings of my life died of newsprint. Can’t wait to watch your new life unfold!!!

  6. Betty, I also left a college teaching job back in 2003, when my mom passed away. I am now planning to go back, but in the meantime I have had a small and rewarding business tutoring special-needs kids. I am thinking about getting my reading specialist certification so that I can expand my business if I don’t find a full-time college teaching job right away…that market is truly brutal. Sometimes we just have to go with our heart. I am sure you will find what you are looking for.

  7. Good for you! I think it’s incredible you are fearlessly going after your dreams. Sometimes I worry I won’t have the courage, so thanks for being an inspiration :)

  8. Post

    Good morning! I just got back from my regular 8 a.m. appointment with my shrink. How nice to find you all here. So many changes, to the point where he even noted that I look tired. And I am. But it’s a happy tired. The session left me with more clarity about this moment in my life. I am standing right at the fork in the road. I can either move forward overcome by anxiety about my decision. Or, I can just do it and enjoy the adventure. Guess which fork I will choose! The key to enjoying is a new equation: Risk does NOT equal struggle. Risk can be fun, fulfilling, exciting, etc. That’s what I’m going for.

    Karen, yes, let’s talk video soon. I plan to set up a studio in my bedroom. I’ve already bought a curtain rod to hang against one of the walls. Also purchased white fabric to make my own curtain. This white background will be the studio! Simple, but it will work. More soon.

    Jenni, I may take you up on your generous offer soon. At the moment, I just need to decompress and figure out what I can. first. Thank you!

    Toby, your son was a joy to have in my class. So glad he got something out of our time together. And great to hear yet another positive story about self-publishing, which is no longer considered schlocky — not when major authors are finally doing it.

    Skye, the fear factor will keep me awake, that’s for sure, haha! Come back and write some more. You know how much we all enjoy your comments.

    Jean, what a super-practical, useful tip. I will start looking at newsprint-colored acid-free paper. What happens with the xeroxing? Does that fade too? I just saw the Enrique Chagoya exhibition at the Neuberger Museum at SUNY Purchase. Looked like he collaged with images cut out of comic books; wonder how that will fade…

    Jenna Dailey, in my situation, I discovered money is power. Having some paper in the bank gives me the ability to survive for quite a while. Saving money will help boost courage. You can do it, and you’re welcome!

    Pat, thanks much. This is very much a new journey and glad to have your company along the way. :)

  9. Betty, it was to great to see your blog this morning! Love your to do list!! By coincidence, I’ve also recently started a process of reinvention (again). For a variety of reasons, I want to move from freelance writing/editing back to a full-time job. Let me know if you want to brainstorm ideas for reinvention.

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    Karen, good luck with going F/T again! I love how this back-and-forth activity between your choice and mine shows that there are a variety of solutions. The benefits of working F/T were tremendous for me. For starters, it was a real privilege to join the working world on that level again and see what that’s like. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the thrill of receiving a regular paycheck with benefits. Will truly miss that. Will also miss the truly smart people I worked with. F/T work also made it possible for me to re-finance my mortgage — the regs have gotten so strict that the bank said they never, ever would have considered my application if I was a part-timer.

    So, yes, let’s brainstorm, starting now. Everyone, please feel free to share here any tips you have about the freelance and/or full-time life because others can benefit too.

  11. Congratulations, Betty! Quitting was an act of true liberation. I, too, have quit at different times – to travel, do activism, and, six months ago, to really focus on my writing – and I’ve *never* regretted it.

    That NYT article on the sharp increase in suicide among the middle age over the last decade shook me, as well.

    This is a golden age for writers, filled with new opportunities brought on by new technologies and business models. A perfect time to take a risk on behalf of you and your talents.

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    Hillary, thanks for the positive reinforcement. This era is a genuine challenge for the aging boomer population. My younger years were filled with limos, hot parties and yes, more than a few nights at the original Studio 54. The future was supposed to be filled with plenty plus the prospect of a wonderful early retirement to travel the world, etc. Instead, I know so many people who are in denial but their needs to downsize. That’s the new reality. But we can do it.

  13. Wow! I am curious about what made you decide to leave your gig? And, if there was an option to do it part-time,. Whatever your reasons, I am happy you have the confidence to know what’s right for you.

    As for college teaching, have you considered a M.A., or have one already? I know you have lots of credentials, but the academic ones are important in higher ed and may lead to full-time teaching posts if that’s something you are considering.

    Either way, sounds very exciting to have time and space and freedom to design your life to manifest your heart’s desires. Blessings on the journey!

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    Christina, you get right to the heart of things, don’t you! Jobs evolve and so do employees. Not to evade your question, but as a blogger who blabs a lot, I am very, very respectful about privacy boundaries. So when I post about being divorced, you’ll notice that I never reveal specifics about the baby daddy. And while I blog about my dating experiences, you won’t catch me gossiping about past relationships.

    On the other point, thanks for raising the need for a master’s degree. Back in 1980, I got one of those from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Wasn’t a particularly great student but getting it is among the best decisions of my life. Really opened doors in helping me establish a teaching career — with NO education training. But I turned out to be good at it and I’ve taught part-time journalism and writing at NYU, The New School, Sarah Lawrence College, St. John’s University, Baruch College. Even won a teaching award at NYU and was runner up for an award at The New School. So I’ve got a foundation to build on. What I need now is a published book because that seems to be pretty important for full-time opportunities. That’s another reason to become an author. Thanks for the encouragement. :)

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