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Make It Happen
Career Management and Work-Life Balance

September 20, 2004, number 2


Whether you are actively looking to change your job, have just left, or are merely exploring the possibility, this newsletter can help. It is a supplement to Leaving the Mother Ship, and is designed to share additional suggestions and ideas. Please forward it on to others who you think may benefit!

1) The Three Poverties
2) Who doesn't wish they had more money?
3) Book Launch: September 28th
4) Product News: Workbook and Coaching Credits.
5) Coaching Corner
6) Extreme Intelligence
7) Keep Make It Happen Alive


When most people think of poverty, what comes to mind are folks who don't have enough money to put food on their table. But poverty is really defined to be a "lack", or "deficiency". When pressed, most people readily admit to the poverty of time, and also to the poverty of money. In this issue of Make It Happen, we start to address both of these, and give you more resources to Leave the Mother Ship on your own terms.

But what is the third Poverty? It is a poverty that most people don't like to admit to themselves: it is the poverty of initiative. Some people have this problem, and others don't. The question is, why?

In a future issue of Make It Happen, we'll look at this in greater depth, but to get you thinking, here is one idea: The greatest difference between those that have initiative and those that don't, is that those who have initiative are constantly learning, and putting what they learn into practice. As you read this newsletter, consider the ideas that are presented: what can you put into practice, today? If you do the work to solve the problems of time and money, you'll go a long way to also solving the problem of initiative!


In the book Leaving the Mother Ship, there are a number of alternatives that presume that you have the financial means to achieve them. Some of these, such as working a reduced work schedule or trading down, effectively reduce your income permanently. Others, such as going back to school or being an entrepreneur, may mean reduced (or no) income, but only for a period of time.

When you were first starting out, you could barely afford rent, but you were able to just make it. As you became more successful, you spent money on a few "luxuries". Even if you took a loan for school, slowly but surely, this was paid back as well.

Fast forward to today. Most people - even those who have found career success - still scrape by and wish they had more money. Where does the money go? The expression "water finds its own level" absolutely applies here: unless you are fabulously wealthy, expenditures tend to rise with income. Think about it. When you started out, you couldn't afford a car, club membership, fancy clothes, a house with a mortgage, or all those lessons for your children. Even if you did have a car back then, the payments were likely far less than the payments you make now.

Do you fit into one of the following situations?

1) Money is so tight, you feel that nothing is possible until your financial house is in order.

2) You're doing well, but for whatever reason, money is sometimes a bit tight. You're considering leaving the Mother Ship, but don't see how the most appealing options would be possible. The money to do it has to come from somewhere.

3) You're got so much money that it is "not an issue". After so much success, you're also thinking of leaving the Mother Ship, maybe to start something of your own. If you're in this category, here's an important question: is it possible that developing personal budget discipline will translate into better business budget discipline?

Some people confuse having money with having happiness. While this is clearly a problem, it is not what we will be dealing with here. We are more concerned with money as a means to provide you the flexibility to do what you wish. No matter which category you fall into, if you haven't looked at your finances recently, maybe it makes sense to do so now!


It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand the equation revenue less expenses equals income. If you wish you had more money, then either your revenues must go up, or your expenses must go down. If you are changing your day job to one with lower pay, then your expenses must go down to match. It is that simple.

So easy to say, yet so hard to do! But to successfully make it happen, you must address two separate issues: one psychological, and the other practical.

Psychological: Whether you are contemplating a job change, clearing your debt, or wish to save for an extended break from work, you must make a personal commitment to make the changes necessary for your dream to become a reality. Think of the smoker who doesn't really want to quit, or the overweight man who really enjoys his food too much to give it up. Without commitment, no change will ever happen.

Once you have truly made that commitment, there are a number of techniques that can help you reinforce that commitment. For example, try writing down why you are making the change, and posting it prominently where you will see it. Another idea that might help: consider purchasing little colored stickers. Put one of these stickers wherever you make your purchase decisions. For example, put one on your credit card, put another on your telephone handset, put another near the door on the way out of your house, put another on the gas cap of your car, etc. Every time you think of making a purchase, you can be reminded about why you are saving. While this might seem a bit silly, what have you got to lose by trying?

If you have a spouse or close friend, ask them to help keep you focused on your goal. Get them to call you each week, asking you to explain what you have done to move closer to your financial goal. They can ask you which expenditures you have foregone, and what other changes you have made. Answering to someone else helps tremendously.


To cut your expenses you must first understand what your expenses are: you must set up a budget. To do this, you have to go through the unpleasant experience of precisely tracking your money. Here's how to do it:

1) For two months, account for every individual expenditure, and every cash inflow. If you can "reconstruct" this from the last two months, do it manually for one additional month going forward. The easiest way to do this is to carry a journal with you; every time you pay for something, whether it is a coffee, bank interest expense, a utility bill, or a transit fare, record it. Re-start the log for each month. The mere act of writing down each expenditure will help you understand how often, and where, each expense is incurred.

2) At the end of each month, record each expenditures in a spreadsheet, along with a category. Here are some suggested categories: Loan payments, Transit costs, Rent/Mortgage, Insurance fees, Communications (Cable, Phone and Internet), Utilities, Groceries, lunches and snacks, Entertainment (includes dinners, alcohol, movie tickets, etc), Clothing, Education, Gifts, and other expenses.

3) For each category, come up with an "average monthly amount", based on the months you have been tracking. Voila - your current budget!

Once you understand what your monthly expenses are, you are then in a position to do something about them. Recall again back to your beginning days, just out of school. Pencil in, to the best of your recollection, your "old" budget for each category. What are the differences between now and then?

Is it possible to roll back your expenditures, one-by-one, to that earlier level? Ask yourself: is each expenditure really necessary, or have you convinced yourself that it is necessary, when really it is not? Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen if you don't incur a particular expense. For example, would your children really suffer if they went to a local day camp, instead of an expensive, far-away residential camp? Do you really need to trade in your car this year? If you must do so, are leather seats really necessary? What if you sold your car and took public transit (or cycled)?

Again, think about why you're looking to cut your expenses. If you're really serious about reaching your objectives, you must also be serious about making changes to your spending habits. Here are a number of specific suggestions that might help:

Reduce recuring expenses:
  • Eat out less often; when you do, go to less expensive restaurants.
  • Do your own laundry, instead of sending it to a service.
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of maids, nannies, gardeners, and other helpers.
  • Start conserving energy around your home.
  • Review all of your utility and communications bills, and determine how you can make cuts to them, no matter how small.
  • Reduce allowances for teenage children, and cut them completely for adult children.
  • Review insurance policies for cost and coverage.
  • Cut/consolidate expensive consumer debt into lower interest cost loans.
  • If you can't pay off your credit cards completely on the due date, then don't use them at all.
  • Review all loans, mortgages, etc, to ensure that they all carry appropriate interest rates.
Postpone or avoid expenses for as long as possible:
  • Postpone expensive vacations.
  • Postpone any non-essential expenses for at least three months.
  • Give up or suspend club memberships.
  • Avoid lavish gifts.
  • Trade in your car for a less expensive one.
  • Sell your house and move into a less expensive one.
  • Be exceptionally frugal with "business expenses". (Even if you can deduct them, these expenses are still cash out of your pocket.)
Increase non-employment income:
  • Seek professional advice on your investment management.
  • Prudently change your investment mix from growth to income.
  • Rent out a room in your home.
  • Rent out your cottage for the season.
  • Sell excess furniture, collectibles, or other assets (such as your car).
  • Get a part-time job. (or encourage your teenage children and spouse to do so.)

Finally, re-cast your budget, based on the changes that you have decided to make. And use your strength of mind to stick to it.


Planning is in high gear! The official book launch is taking place at the historic Roundhouse, located in downtown Toronto behind the Skydome. If you are available and would like to attend, please register at the following URL: http://www.LeavingTheMotherShip.com/rsvp; we’d love to have you! (You are invited to bring a guest who is considering making a change - or should be.) Request: If you are interested in being on the "Crew" that day, please let us know, within the rsvp itself. Thanks!


Workbook: A number of people have commented that Leaving the Mother Ship is exceptionally useful, but it would be easier if all of the forms, templates, and other resources were readily available. As well, there have been a number of practical ideas that didn’t make it into the Book, but did make it into the Workbook. The workbook might make the difference between your success and failure -- the extra material and forms will certainly save you time.


  • 14 Worksheets, organizers, guides, and resources
  • Resume Organizer includes how to build your mini-bio and elevator pitch.
  • Filling in the Gaps worksheet provides a prioritized checklist of activities, all in one place.
  • Business Plan Organizer provides details as to what you should do after the plan is complete.

The Workbook is available at the following URL: http://www.leavingthemothership.com/store/index_wb.html

Coaching Credits: Access to an unbiased, independent source of career and business counseling. Coaching provides you an experienced mentor who has only one interest in mind: yours. Randall provides personalized coaching for a limited number of clients each month. Each coaching session is 30 minutes long, and can cover any number of relevant topics, including:

  • Mentorship on situational issues (examples: severance, reduced work schedule, conflicts of interest.)
  • Leaving the Mother Ship: Prioritization and Planning.
  • Playing Devil's advocate to your plans.
  • How to identify and mitigate risks during change.
  • Negotiating strategy: severance, job offers, suppliers.
  • Job search strategy.
  • Interview role-playing.
  • Resume review.
  • Entrepreneurial issues: managing growth, finding partners.
  • Business Plan review.
  • New business start-up coaching.
  • Creative Brainstorming.
  • Completely open agenda: you ask, Randall answers.

Go to http://www.LeavingTheMotherShip.com/coaching for more details.


Poverty of time: "Between my kids lunches, my husband, and my job, I don't have enough time just to sit, let alone figure out what's next for me!" This, or a version like it, is a common refrain from the time-challenged. Chapter 1 of the book provides 11 specific strategies for putting more time in your day. Some of these strategies have to do with making you more productive while you're working, while others have to do with time organization.

Here's another way to look at how to recapture time. Generally, we spend our time on three different things: Goal-oriented activities, "Hygiene" activities, and time-wasters.

Goal-oriented activities are the ones that move you towards... your goals. These might include completing a project at work (career or financial goal-oriented), or volunteering at your child's school (community and family goal-oriented). Clearly, the reason you want more time is to allow you to spend more time on these activities.

"Hygiene" activities are those that are necessary for the wheels of life to continue: Spending time eating a meal, brushing your teeth, and yes, even making kids' lunches. While all of these activities are necessary, the goal is to keep the time spent on these activities to the absolute minimum. How to do this? Consider the following strategies:

  • Cancellation: Is it really necessary to do each task on a daily basis? Maybe some things can be done weekly or monthly?
  • Efficiency: Perhaps you can do things faster, or do certain activities in bulk? For example, by purchasing additional socks and underwear, can you go to the laundromat far less frequently?
  • Delegation: Can some of these tasks be given to others? Particularly in the area of household chores, everyone should pitch in.
  • Outsourcing: What about paying someone to do your laundry and gardening? How about paying someone to do all of your weekday cooking?

Time-wasters include everything from needlessly waiting in line, to checking your stock portfolio unnecessarily many times daily, to idle gossip, to watching TV each evening. The strategy here is to be jealous with your time, and cut all time-wasting activities as completely as you can. Some of this can be accomplished by just stopping the activity completely: give up TV for everything but the news, for example. Another strategy is to "convert" time-wasting activities to goal-oriented activities. Two examples: using a cell phone while you are in your car, and carrying a day journal to capture your thoughts while waiting in line.

How are you currently using your time each day? Try keeping a detailed schedule for a day or two: you'll be surprised at where the time goes. Then sit down, and decide how to minimize your Hygiene time, and recapture your Wasted time. And finally, make sure that your Goal-oriented activities really DO move you closer to your goals. If not, then do something about it.

I am leaving the Mother Ship, and have a week or two "off" between my old and new jobs: How should I spend the time? This is a relatively easy question to answer, but often it is asked because there is SO much that can be done, it is hard to know where to start! One way to figure this out is to divide your list of activities into three general categories:

1) Chores and "must do" activities that have been put off for too long. We all are guilty of using our busy lives as excuses for avoiding unpleasant chores. No more excuses: write down ALL of the things that fall into this category, and then rank them in terms of importance. Merely keeping a list will reduce your stress. Later, you'll choose what gets done or not.

2) Personal Balance Sheet items. The Personal Balance Sheet (and the related workbook resources) help you evaluate and prioritize your personal goals along the seven dimensions of Community, Family, Intellectual, Spiritual, Physical, Financial, and Career. Even if you haven't gone through the entire exercise, consider which of these dimensions have been ignored, and plan activities around them. For example, improve your physical well-being by scheduling daily trips to the gym, or improve your personal relationships by going for a walk with your partner each night. Remember that each of these activities should be "fun", or they will not help you recharge as quickly as you should. And consider going away on vacation, at least for a few days.

3) New job preparation activities. A new job means new responsibilities, new relationships, new processes, a new business to understand, and sometimes even a new industry. Make a list of activies that can reduce your stress once you start. The Gap Analysis, in Section III of the book is designed specifically to help you do this. A few hours going through this section will yield huge dividends once you start.

The general goal of the one-two week break between jobs is to help you recharge. Making sure that you do a bit from each of the three areas will help make this happen.


We get many emails each week. From time to time we would like to highlight the most ridiculous, dumbest, "Mother Ship" emails that you receive. If you receive an email that epitomizes why you need to leave the Mother Ship immediately, please forward it intact to extreme@LeavingTheMotherShip.com. (We will hide all personal and corporate identities to protect the innocent.) If we use your submission, you will be eligible for a prize.


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Make It Happen
Copyright © 2004 Knowledge to Action Press and Randall Craig. All rights reserved.

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