My one year plan to move to a new country and change my career officially started on April 1st. Only eleven more months to go. It really is amazing to see how much more valuable time becomes when you have a major goal to accomplish.
Here is my progress report and an overview of my current thoughts and plans.
Sell our Business (or get it self-running)
I have put our English school up for sale on a couple of online classified sites in Japan. I have also been talking to several people potentially interested in some type of work share agreement. That would mean my wife and I would come back for a portion of the year to give the new manager a chance to take longer vacations. I am happy with all the interest so far, but nothing has been decided yet.
Get a New Income Online
I have been spending most of my free time on various web ventures that I intend to fund our future travels. I am not making any money yet but the sites are slowly making progress. They are still a little rough but you can take a look if you wish.
YouCanTeachEnglish.com – Information and Jobs for English Teachers.
EFLfrog.com – An online resource for English teachers; printable flash cards, game ideas, etc.
ABCfrog.com – A game and animation site for children to learn English.
A picture dictionary that is completed but not populated yet. This will still take a few more months.
JetSetCitizen.com – This site of course, but I don’t really have plans to make money from it. It is still just a vehicle to connect with people around the world. I have been surprised at the increase in traffic this past month.
Rent-out Our House or Not?
So far our plan is to keep the house in Japan so that we can return periodically. We need a home-base to keep things like our guitars, bicycles, computers, an espresso machine and all of those other absolutely essential items that we can never part with. 🙂 We are not exactly backpackers, I know. The plan is to keep the house until we can get another stable residence in another country and ship our things out. Or, maybe we will keep multiple residences and just rotate through them if we can afford it.
My wife and I didn’t just start thinking about my future last month. We have been preparing to do something new and drastic for quite a while. We just didn’t know exactly what it was going to be. Here are some of the things we have been doing to prepare to leave Japan next April and start a new business.
Started Our Own Small Business
Most entrepreneurs will agree that there is no better way to accumulate wealth than to go into business for yourself. If you don’t already have your own business, you should be working on one. A key component of lifestyle design is automating your income. Working for someone else means you only get paid for the time you put in and even then your salary is only a small fraction of your value to your employer. In your own company, you get paid exactly what you are worth and you can earn money off of the work of others. We started our current business, an English school in Japan, about 10 years ago now. This has provided the freedom to do what we want, increase our vacation time, reduce commuting time and earn more money than we could of in most other occupations available to us in Japan.
Saved Money and Cut Costs
To be honest, we haven’t really lowered our expenses much. My wife and are not students anymore so we are used to a more comfortable lifestyle. We love to eat out, take music lessons, travel and go to the gym. But at the same time we don’t buy unnecessary things. We live five minutes from work so we don’t buy $4 coffees during the day and there are no commuting expenses. We canceled our satellite TV because we didn’t watch it. We rarely buy clothes and the ones we do buy are from Uniqlo, an inexpensive Japanese clothing chain. Our car is five years old and still in great condition. We bought a house because it is cheaper than renting and have been pretty much set up for a few years so we are not always buying kitchen gadgets and new electronics.
I would love to buy more guitars but I know that purchasing them won’t make me a better player. I wanted to buy a big flat panel TV, we even have a space for it in our entertainment room. Fortunately, my wife was wise enough to point out that if we bought it, we would watch more TV and that would just get in the way of our life goals.
My wife and I have managed to save a little money by starting our own business and working hard on it for many years. Our expenses are much higher than they were 10 years ago but we are also making more money so we can still save a decent amount of money every month.
The largest cutback we are making in our final year in Japan is to not travel. Typically, we travel abroad two to four times a year. We just came back from Canada and we have decided not to travel again until we leave Japan. No traveling for a full year!
We have done a lot to save our time. We bought a house five minutes from our business so that we don’t waste time commuting. We don’t watch TV. Given that the average American watches 24 hour of TV, there are huge time savings from giving up the idiot box.
We have also gotten a lot smarter in our business. We have raised prices, cut back less profitable classes, reduced the number of classes per year and stopped many time consuming, non-essential services we were offering. This has probably doubled the amount we earn per hour of work. We are getting more than full time incomes on a less than 30 hour work week with 12 weeks of holidays per year.
It is impossible to be great at everything so I have been radically outsourcing everything I can. I now have several very talented and reliable people that I can trust to work on my projects. Success in business is all about people. I have made many mistakes in the past but I am finally pulling together a good team. I have outsourced to dozens of people from countries all over the world and I have learned a lot. Hopefully, this will help ensure success in the future.
For anyone considering changing careers, moving to another country or both; one year should be plenty of time to get your life in order. Work more and spend less to save more money. Also, get started on your next business now. Just start doing things, even if they are not that great. You will improve with time and you will be in a much better position when you leave your job in the future.