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

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  2. Go you! So you have all the necessary credentials and then some. I am pretty practical so I always think of the details and the “how” of things. I admire those who are open to the “process” which is a lot about going on faith and not sweating all the details — I love the details — so I find it challenging, fer sure!

    And, yeah, I am very direct. People love it, or hate it, but most respect my honesty. As I age I am learning to hold back. Not everyone wants or needs to hear what you think, and sometimes it’s not worth the energy. Hah! Life lessons.

    I do see the wisdom of preserving some privacy on such a public forum. It’s easy to forget because it feels like you share so much, so publicly! Another good reminder for those of us not as experience with having a virtual presence. It’ll be nice to catch up in person.

    Whatever step is next I wish you the best!

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    Christina, we could build a whole blog post around your comment…I need the published book. There was a time where saying that I was self-publishing would make me look really cheese-y. But that’s now the hot new market. My ability to self-publish shows my ability to embrace yet another 21st century skill — and that can only help students of all ages who need to learn this stuff in the wild, wild west of our horrible economy.

    As for privacy as you brand online — be very strategic! I always tell my students to only put online what they want the world to know, including prospective employers. Eg, when I was younger, I never would’ve been comfortable blathering on about being in therapy. But right now, that fact is essential to marketing myself as someone who is open, good at problem solving, and maybe, a little bit outside-the-box, haha!

  4. Betty — I admire that you are willing to grow and change and be your best self every day! You are in an arena that is totally foreign to me so I enjoy learning what I can from your adventures.

    Publishing can be a huge nightmare. Now that I finished my dissertation my next step would be turning it into a book if I wanted to pursue an academic career, a project I find daunting. The idea of self-publishing sounds exciting though I am sure it also has its own challenges. Will look forward to hearing more from you on that!

    I have no interest in having an online presence, but the truth is I have one anyway. So hard not to have a digital fingerprint unless I want to avoid any social interaction these days! So, it’s something I am still thinking through, especially, when forced to. Hah!

    Also, would love to learn more of how you learned your budgeting skills! Amazing that you were able to give yourself the gift of this time. Paper in the bank does do marvels.

  5. Hey Betty: welcome back aboard the freelance ride! Guaranteed thrills, chills, dangerous loop-di-loops and unexpected stops and slides, but what a ride! Left my last full-time job when I was 29 (decades ago), and have been working full-time ever since, so I know what you mean.

    Recently published my first novel with Amazon’s Createspace. Did a lot of research, including correspondence with other self-publishers & found Createspace the best — and one of the best priced too. They really followed through, and you get right on Amazon — and, for a few additional bucks, they generate a Kindle copy for you.

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    Christina, as Hillary says, this is the golden age for writers. We’re no longer bound by the old system of going through a conventional publisher. Just look at Ingrid!

    Ingrid, congrats on your new book and thank you for leaving us info about the process. Please feel free to come back and give us the title, url for purchase, all of that.

    Btw, Christina, you have a very strong online presence via your FB. You already know how to do this. It’s just the issue of tweaking and adapting for the various options — Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc. It will take a combo of these vehicles to market a book. A blog helps a lot too. You raise other good points that could make great blog posts…maybe one on how to save money by downsizing? That’s at the foundation of my strategy.

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    Nancy, thank you for letting me know that you liked the class! Sometimes it’s hard to tell. When I get back in the classroom, I’ll have so many new ideas and contacts. During the past year, I’ve been reporting on farmers, farmers markets and the whole farm-to-table movement going on in the Hudson Valley. This is where NYC restaurants and shops get all their produce, meat & artisanal products. I’ve got a solid understanding now of how the pieces fit together and can’t wait to share! Hope you’re doing well too. :)

  9. Betty,

    If there is anyone I know on this planet that can pull through it’s you. Everything you taught me is that decisions from the heart go a long way. When I was out of luck last year, after life pitched 100 mph lemons at my face, my best friend nicely told me, whatever happens to you next is going to be better. Less than four months later she was right. You’ll be fine Betty.


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  11. As you probably know I was forced into that situation and then my personal life also took a toll. As another wise person taught me, fire forges steel, and I’ve always wanted to be the Man of Steel. :)

  12. Betty, you are truly an inspiration! You go, Betty! I can’t wait to read your book.

    Enjoy your new adventure.

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