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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    Hmm, pre-ordering, a new buzzword for me. Mimi, thanks for the idea. I will take you up on the offer to armtwist our former classmates, haha! And Hillary, thanks for linking to how you did the pre-ordering process. Nice to see it in action. :)

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    Sandy, thanks for the reminder about applying for college aid in March. Then again, who knows, I may not qualify because I’ve made too much money during the rest of 2013 — haha! How’s that for thinking positively? Yes, I hear you on fear. And, on new beginnings. All good. I take a very silver lining approach to life, as you know. Agreed — things happen to all of us for a reason. Hope that means you are having a good time in your own life as well!

    And fingers crossed for my daughter because she is applying for a merit-based scholarship today. But to be very honest? Part of me really doesn’t mind if we carry the bulk of the tuition cost. Yes, writing those checks is gonna hurt! But we are not poor. There are plenty of kids out there who need the money much, much more.

  3. Betty –

    It’s so good to see that you are still challenging life to give you the best of what it’s got! I’m happy that you were able to start on a new adventure on your own timetable and I am positive that you will be successful! I look forward to your book…keep me posted on the status!

    Congrats on your latest adventure, and congrats to your daughter on hers, also.

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    Thank you, LuAnn. And thanks for reinforcing that I’m acting on my own timetable because in truth, I didn’t originally expect to be leaving the full-time job this soon. But stuff happens, which leaves me looking for win-win solutions.

    I had another one of those moments last night…ran into an adjunct professor who was hired to take over one of the p/t teaching gigs that I had given up to go back to f/t reporting. It was a slightly awkward conversation for me because she’s happy there and doesn’t seem to be leaving any time soon. Which means this is another potential teaching job to cross off my list. But other adventures await me and this colleague really needed the work too. So I will view this as win-win.

    Just FYI: Here’s my blog post on win-win vs. win-lose: https://bettymingliu.com/2012/03/win-win-is-better-than-win-lose/

  5. I ‘found’ your blog because of your painting and I come back to it because of your writing, your honesty and your humour.
    Congratulations on taking the leap. Yes, it’s scary, but how wonderful to be doing what you feel you need to in your heart. Life is so precious and so short.
    I can’t wait to see your new paintings and to check out your videos too.
    Art marketing Guru Alyson Stanfield had a pretty cool tutorial from a guy who makes videos for a living and he taught me more about it in the online class than I ever knew. ha ha. Maybe it wouldn’t be that useful for you as you’ve had an actual live course, but here it is anyway. http://www.artbizcoach.com/video/

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  7. wow, betty, look at all the support you have! look at how much you are loved! you’ll have to because i can’t read all these comments! anyhoo, i just wanted to applaud your endless courage, your seeming ability to constantly reinvent yourself, to read the weather & get on your board & surf the winds of change with immense grace & optimism. you are a HUGE inspiration! & i also want to applaud your ability to constantly learn new tricks — ohhhh, if i could only wrap my head around garage band!!! … on a more practical note, i can’t believe insurance premiums for you & your best gal could be so extravagant: have you checked out freelancers union for its insurance? i’ve been lucky to have been sheltered by that umbrella for many years now. … o.k., betty, keep inspiring us, keep going for the gold!

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    jaime, I know, the amount of comments here are so comforting — so many people that I know in real life and so many that I only know as friends via my blog! Thank you for your encouragement too. Love your lovely phrase about me “reading the weather” and surfing winds of change. I like that image of myself it will stay with me for a long time.

    Also thanks for the reminder about the Freelancers Union. Didn’t know anyone who actually used it but now I am definitely going to check it out. I have work-related health coverage for us until the end of this month, which means we are on endless medical appointments right now! Gotta get stuff done!

    As for you and garage band, http://www.lynda.com/ is an online learning center you can go to, to learn tech skills at a reasonable subscription rate. But next time you buy a new Mac, get that $99 One-to-One membership that entitles you to a weekly session with a personal tech trainer. Btw, many of them use lynda.com for their own training too. Always glad to hear from you. xo

  9. The spring my only child (daughter) left high school, I too, as a single mother, left a relatively secure job with the school district to move across the country & begin a new chapter of life. Sixteen years later, I’m still here re-inventing myself, with the motivating motto, “Something’s always worked out before, so why not now!”
    I look forward to reading your upcoming chapters Betty.
    And have you seen who’s also back on the dating scene?




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      Rose, you are brave…you made those changes 16 years ago when single moms were really out there struggling on their own. And how wonderful that the reinvention continues! I think the minute we stop, we become old. And that just won’t do!

      As for Martha Stewart, yes, I’ve been following her online dating — might even blog about it next week. Do you think it would be a good topic to explore? :)

  10. Regarding Martha Stewart dating Betty, obviously it’s attracted my attention … well with all those links I posted above!
    I recently ended a year-ish relationship because I couldn’t get past seeing him as more than a “friend with benefits” … not that there’s anything wrong with that, but he just wasn’t the one for me. It knocked me on my butt a little more than I expected tho so I’m being gentle with myself. Dating “vicariously” seems to be about all I’m willing to handle right now!
    Happy Mother’s Day!

  11. Hi! Betty, just read this & learning about the “breaking news” about you! I hear you and I think you made a right decision to go with your guts instead of worrying other issue. Enjoy your time in leisure before the fall! ^^

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  12. Hey Betty:

    I quit my job seven years ago, and have yet to find another full time gig. It did free me up from a terrible situation. And I definitely needed a change, but if I knew then what I know now, then I probably would have taken a leave of absence, and not quit outright… Tough in this economy. Tough when the field of journalism is shrinking more and more every day. It’s helped that my other area of expertise – teaching, has substitute positions available. On the downside, it’s been extremely difficult to get writing assignments, so I think you’ve got the right idea, blog, to get your writing grove on. And perhaps if I get myself organized and start a blog, it will lead to freelance writing assignments again! Sounds like your entrpreneurial pursuits, art pursuits, and continuing your blog are a great way to go. Also, you’re lucky that you have a bit of a money cushion right now. Cause, it sure is tough when there isn’t much of a cushion!!!!!

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      Leslie, blogging can’t hurt! It shows prospective employers — whether freelance or full-time — that you are enterprising and are in tune with today’s tech world. At least, that’s what it implies. The blog helped me get every gig I’ve gotten since the blog’s launch. The blog isn’t about money. It’s your 21st century calling card. This also means that you have to be very strategic in how you present yourself. And yes, so lucky to have some savings. Makes all the difference!

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