№ 3: Challenge Set for January Transition

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
A Japanese Daruma doll. When you set a goal, you color in the left eye. When the goal has been achieved, you color in the right eye. I bought this and colored in that left eye on 2017-12-12. I will color in the left eye when I have officially resigned from my day job at Company X.

Post № 3 was originally going to be something about the specific challenges I face in trying to get out of full-time EFL and into deriving the bulk of my income in Japan from creative work. That will probably become № 4, as more pressing matters are at hand. Facing going into another year of this insane work schedule and having the life drained from me daily has been stressing me out as the end of 2017 approaches. A full year of the EFL grind is not something I’m going to do again. As such, I have decided to switch to part time at my day job starting January 18 (that’s just when I have the option to officially change my contract, no other reason for that date). This means that I will be required to work at Company X just two days a week. I may work more for extra cash if I desire, but my contractual obligations will be confined to two days per week.

By confining my obligations at that job in that way, I can open up a huge amount of usable time that can be applied to work on creative jobs, web site development, spec projects, etc. It also means, however, that it is imperative that I make that time create at least as much value as I am sacrificing by only working part-time at my current primary employer. I will still receive full paychecks at the ends of December and January, and so the financial hit won’t really land until the end of February. That gives me about five weeks until my schedule effectively changes, and then another six weeks before I get hit with an alarmingly small paycheck from Company X.

In the interest of getting my ducks in a row, I will also be using up all but one day of my remaining vacation time, scattering seven days of paid leave over the next five weeks, so that I may use that time to prepare, to promote, to do everything I can to cover myself financially.

This is a risk and a leap that I’m not especially comfortable with, but it’s a risk that I have to accept if I’m ever going to get out of this endless cycle of sleep deprivation and wasting my time doing what neither makes me happy nor brings good enough compensation. This situation is stupid and has lasted too long already. I accept the risk associated with this transition.  One does not excel without taking risks, and these risks are the calculated kind.

When I moved to Tokyo from Shanghai in 2015, I came with a job interview appointment, an apartment I’d never seen, and a rather meager amount of cash. That’s it. I had no backup, no plan B, no emergency fund for if everything went wrong. I put myself in a position where my only real option was to find a way to make it work. While I don’t advocate making huge steps like that without a backup plan, sometimes that’s just the only way it’s ever going to happen. My current situation is not altogether unlike that. I have found that I cannot get where I’m trying to go from a position of chronic sleep loss and poor availability due to an inflexible schedule over which I have little control.  Unless I step out of the relatively unpleasant but secure position I am in now and into a place of relative vulnerability, I won’t ever have the resources of time and energy necessary to actually get things off the ground.

And so, I’m going part time and using the extra time that will become available to move toward a healthier, happier, more productive daily life centered around doing work that I care much more about.

On a final note, I’m going to be adding the option to support my efforts directly through Patreon. My margins will be extremely narrow for a while, especially in these beginning stages, and your (at this point theoretical) financial support would make a legitimate difference in my long-term chances of success. Any amount at all legitimately helps, so please consider throwing a few yen my way. There will be rewards as well, in case you need further incentives.

I will be continuing this blog indefinitely, documenting the challenges and everything else of starting a business as a foreigner in Japan, as well as everything I get involved in after this initial transition phase. Ten years from now, I hope to still be writing about working independently in Japan, and I hope to have contributed to the efforts of others trying to do the same. By then I hope to also be getting more sleep, which will in turn mean better writing and editing around here.

When the Patreon page is up, I’ll be adding a sidebar link, as well as appending the relevant information to the end of this post. Until then, please check back.

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