How I Started Working Less and Surfing More!
For many people around the world, surfing is a passion which can never be fully satisfied. There’s always that one extra wave you would love to have caught, or that one session that you missed out on.
The most common reason for surfing less than you’d like is work. It makes it pretty difficult to get in the water when you’re stuck in traffic from 8am-9am, and don’t get home until after 6pm.
Maybe you live right by the beach, or work hours which allow you to have a surf during the day time. In that case, I congratulate you, but the unfortunate reality is that many of us have jobs which don’t allow us to surf during the week, or we live too far from the ocean to justify the drive unless we have a big slab of time available.
That used to be me. I was stuck in the grind of the five day work week, living just over an hours drive from the nearest waves. Surfing during the week was simply unfeasible. My best case scenario was to finish work at 4pm, which made getting to the beach in the daylight only possible during the summer. Even then though, I’d sit in traffic with the thousands of other people going home from work, get to the beach by 6pm, and end up completely exhausted by the time I’d had a quick surf and driven back home. Impossible to justify.
When I decided to give freelance work a try, I must admit I had the idea of surfing more in the back of my mind. It certainly wasn’t my only motivation – I also intended to find work which I enjoyed doing and which I found fulfilling, but the prospect of working my own hours was a major tipping point.
How I did it
The move was a big one. Going from a guaranteed wage and all the benefits which come with full-time work, to a situation where I was entirely reliant on finding enough work on my own to keep me going was a daunting prospect.
Prior to the change, I started to gradually develop a clientele for whom I wrote, so that I wasn’t completely starting from scratch when I went freelance. This was an important step which not only helped me to feel comfortable in the change, but also helped keep the cash flow ticking over in the more challenging early days.
Unfortunately, many people have no idea how to actually do this. It’s all good and well to recognize the importance of developing a clientele, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to knowledge around how to do it. Initially, I was simply typing ‘websites that pay you to write for them’, and reading the various blogs and articles about the topic. Some of these were useless, many were very helpful, but eventually I began to develop an understanding of which sites were worth my time and which weren’t.
There are a number of great sites out there on which people post freelance jobs they need done for them. A site called UpWork is one which I initially started using, and still do use, and is a great way to network with a wide range of clients. They do take 20% of your earnings at first, but once you earn over a certain amount with a client this begins to reduce. Another good site to take a look at is People Per Hour. I’ve struggled to find as many writing jobs on this site, but there are plenty of other jobs, particularly in design/creative type fields. BloggingPro and ProBlogger have some high quality writing jobs on offer, and are worth checking out as well. This may seem like a lot to take in, but start having a look at sites like this and they’ll inevitably lead you to others.
Of course, it’s important to remember that working freelance still requires work. Often, it requires more effort than your average full time job, and in those times it’s not quite as easy to fulfil your passions as you might’ve imagined when you were stuck in an office.
But, at least for me, it’s been worth persevering with. Having the ability to live my dreams when I choose to, rather than just on Saturday’s and Sunday’s, is incredibly gratifying.
As a surfer, it is even more useful. Maybe the forecast tells me a good swell is coming on Wednesday, and perfect offshores will be blowing all day. I can’t just drop all the work I have to go surfing, but what I can do is commit extra hours to the jobs which I need to do on Monday and Tuesday, freeing up spare time on Wednesday to do what I love doing.
The area where I have perhaps benefited the most from the move to freelance is travel. As great as it is to have the ability to head to the beach when I want to while I’m at home, even better is the ability to continue earning an income while spending time away from home.
Initially, I actually had some problems with this, believe it or not. It sounds hard to imagine struggling with the terrible affliction of having to work while exploring some of the world’s most beautiful destinations, but it’s what happened.
The idea of travelling Indonesia, taking my laptop to the beach to do a bit of work here and there, and surfing the rest of the day sounded ideal, almost too good to be true, and yet there I was doing it. What I failed to consider was that, when you’re surrounded by so many things that you want to do, working is the last thing on your mind.
Having to sit at my guesthouse writing was, initially, enormously frustrating for me. I wanted to be surfing, or exploring my surrounding areas, but instead I felt stuck at my accommodation on my computer. At times I started to wonder what the point of even being there was, since all I was doing was working anyway.
Once I got over my own sense of entitlement though, and started to accept that I needed to put aside a few hours a day for work in order to enjoy the rest of it, everything became much easier.
Maybe conditions were going to be perfect for a surf early in the morning – in that case I’d wake up, have a surf, work for however long I needed to, then enjoy the rest of the day. Maybe have another surf.
If the morning waves were no good, first thing in the morning I’d jump on my computer and start writing. I’d write and I’d write until I’d finished my day’s work, and then the rest of the day was mine to enjoy whatever location I was in. Maybe that was by 10am, maybe that wasn’t until 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Regardless, I still had the luxury of spending a majority of my time doing what I loved in a beautiful location, while keeping my bank account ticking over at the same time.
Is it worth it?
Maybe this doesn’t appeal to you. It’s certainly not a lifestyle everyone would love, and there are drawbacks which may be much more significant to others than they are to me. The point of this isn’t to convince you to drop everything and start up a freelance career, and maybe you have reasons which make it unfeasible. Maybe you work in a field in which freelance isn’t an option.
The point is this though: for those who really want it, it is possible. The development of technology means that more and more careers are becoming viable from the comfort of your own home, and there are freedoms which it allows you which simply don’t exist with full time work.
Freelancing can be tough, but it can also be extremely liberating. It allows you to do what you want to do when you want to do it, whether that be surf, travel, both, or something completely different. For me, it’s a great way to get into the water significantly more than I was ever previously able to. For you, it might be the same, or it might be something completely different. Regardless of what your passions may be, it enables you to live them.