Tick Tock Tick Tock (or What If You’re Running Out Of Time?)


It’s January 1, 2010. Congrats, you made it. ;)

Let’s get it started right. What follows is better than any “resolution.”

Time (no pun intended) for a thought experiment. To make it successful whip out a pen/paper or fire up a text editor. There will be a reward if you take action. :)

In 12 months you won’t be able to work more than 1 hour per day on income producing tasks. You will have come down with an illness that renders you incapable of even attempting to work more than 1 hour per day.

Starting today, what do you do to plan for that?

How do you start reorganizing your life?

What action steps do you have to take today in anticipation of the future?

Even if you’ve never run a business of any sort before, act as if. What kind of business do you think you could start? What steps do you need to take to make it work?

12 months is a long time to get yourself set up.

Invest 15 minutes (preferably more) thinking about this.




Now, same questions, but you only have 6 months. In 6 months you will not have the ability to work more than 1 hour per day.

What do you do?

Now, 3 months. What changes? You’ve actually got real time constraints now. It’s difficult to think 6 or 12 months out because it’s such a long time from now, but 3 months?

3 months out is April 1. That’s really soon!

With 12 months to make it work you could still probably watch TV and play video games every day. But 3 months? I’m not so sure.

With 3 months you will probably have to cut out all extraneous activities from your life while you set yourself up for your new 1 hour/day handicap.

The Reward

Post your answers, and they should be somewhat detailed, in the comments.

I’ll e-mail you with my own answers which, as with a lot of my work,will be free from copyright.

I won’t post my answers here, but you’ll be free to post them on your own blog or wherever you please.

Update (2:25PM EST Jan 1, 2010):

1) Esoteric answers don’t count. Be specific.

2) I’ll only send the e-mail with my answers for comments made until Jan 7, 2010. You have 7 days to think hard and submit your answers.

Thanks for participating!


  1. I think I would know how to deal with this because I play time-pressured Chess.
    First off I will calculate which job will earn me the most in just an hour. If just an hour per day is all I have, It would probably have to be a ‘thinking’ or mental job since I’m almost immobile. I would think and plan for the necessary changes to be made.
    Now that drastic changes have to be made, I’ll prepare materials needed to do that –things to discard, things to move, and things to produce.
    My answers would be the same if this would happen in 6 or 3 months.

    • Hi Poch,

      Thank you.

      I find it hard to believe your answers would be the same for 6 or 3 months. You wouldn’t change anything if your time were cut shorter? Really?

      What are the specific actions you would take? Your answer was very esoteric. What kind of job allows you to work just an hour per day? I don’t know of any, but I’d like to.

      “I would think and plan for the necessary changes to be made.” Yes, I understand. That was the question. :) What would you do? What changes? What materials will you need? What will you discard? What will you move? What will you produce?


  2. One thing I try to do is to start as I mean to go on. This means that if I have a limitation coming up (ie, we know we’ll have less money coming in after a job change, which happened when we moved to Chicago), we start planning immediately, and if possible, adapting to our new grocery budget or other change before the boom is lowered (not always possible; for instance our rent more than doubled when we moved, and we only had a few months’ notice, so there was no way to deal with that other than just doing it when we got here).

    This also means recognizing upcoming limits… I don’t start a new lesson for my kids if I know we’ll just have to cancel in a few months (or we make plans to barter or trade for them).

    As a stay-at-home mother, I’m already at a point of very limited income-producing activities. We four live on one income now, and my “job” is to homeschool our children and deal with the management of our household. No money for my work, but lots of benefit to all of us.

    Now, if I change the parameters of your thought experiment to my husband dropping to one hour’s work for our family of four’s income… well, I guess it would depend on why he was being handicapped. Would I be a full-time care provider to him during an illness? Or did he just lose all his teaching hours due to budget cuts? If we are all able-bodied, we’d probably do as much barter with folks in similar situations (as we did with families whose breadwinners lost their jobs back in Kansas City when the economy dove into the dumpster… I traded childcare for household repairs, that kind of thing).

    If you’re saying that we’d need to set up our lives so that we each only invested one hour of income-producing time so that we’d have lots of leisure time… well, that’s a pretty pointless plan, because I feel that contributing to the well-being of the family, whether by earning money for groceries or sweeping or reading to the youngest, is inherently valuable and important… both for the family, AND for the individual member. If you aren’t providing worth and value to the family, you will NOT feel valuable or worthy! Even the youngest can pitch in, and is expected to… and feels very good about his contribution.

    So I guess I can’t play this game… money isn’t the only thing we value in our family. Even my husband’s main impetus for working isn’t money… we waited six years for him to find the job that spoke to him, that he knew he’d love doing, before we wound up here. He loves it, he’s happy, and the fact that he brings home money is… well, maybe not secondary, but certainly not the single most important facet of his job. I can say the same about my job, except for the money part, because I don’t make any!

    Interested to see where you’re going with this…

    • Thanks for commenting Katje. It has nothing to do with being disabled or ill. You will be fully able to do anything for 23 hours/day, but only 1 hour/day on income producing activities. You can read, play with your kids, grocery shop, garden, mow the lawn, clean the house, teach your kids to read, learn a new language, learn an instrument, knit, etc in those 23 hours. But if you say you can’t play the game then you can’t play the game. Because “whether you say you can or whether you say you can’t, you’re right.” (This quote has been attributed to so many people I don’t know who to give credit to.)

  3. Karol, can I participate if I’ve already had prior years where I worked one hour a day? ;)

    I can definitely lay out a plan that will only require 1 hour of work a day within 3 months, but I don’t want to spoil what you may be trying to accomplish here.


      • Thanks….just didn’t want to step on toes. :)

        Actions are a huge part of it. You can think and plan until the cows come home, but without action, the most brilliant plan on the face of the planet is totally, completely worthless.

        1. The first thing I would do is take 10 days to get my mind right. Seems like a waste of time right? Especially in light of the fact that I just stressed “action” above.

        But what I’m talking about involves much more than “thinking”. You need to be an active participant in preparing your mind and your thoughts for what lies ahead.

        To that extent, I would probably look to something like Michael Campbell’s free Uncovery resource, which is a great workbook designed to help you mesh:

        a. What you’re good at
        b. Your interests and/or passions
        c. What you can make money doing

        There is usually an intersection point where all three items cross. For many people, there will be multiple intersection points. Choose one. That is your starting point for your venture.

        Work through the process mentally. Employ positive self-talk. Imagine yourself doing the daily work, seeing your business grow. Picture the ultimate rewards you will bring into your life. Remind yourself that this will take consistent, focused effort up front. But the result will be a business that almost runs itself inside of 10 weeks.

        With your mind right, and an idea of what you want to do, you’re now ready to proceed to the process.

        2. You can choose any number of quality methods online to build your business around. I can recommend several good ones, and I’m sure Karol can too. The specific method is less important than focusing on that one single method with laser like focus, ignoring all other potential distractions, until you’ve met your goals.

        I’ll pick one specific method for the sake of this example, but it doesn’t have to be this one. Again, there are dozens of possibilities out there.

        So I will choose creating my own series of products in my fields of interest.

        Now, I’m a dog lover from way back. So that seems like a good place to start.

        a. Research your material. Interview dog trainers, find Private Label Rights materials, create a “swipe file” of quality information from other websites.

        b. Pool all of this information together, and use it to create an outline of what you want your book to look like. Create chapters and sub-chapters. You now have the outline for your book.

        c. Fill in the outline from personal experience, and all of your research material. Remember not to directly copy any of your research. Take what you’ve collected and put it in your own words and give it your own voice. Work diligently and steadily, and you should be able to finish your product within a week. Jim Edwards has a good course on writing an ebook in a week if you need additional help or feel this is overwhelming.

        d. Once your book is finished, begin writing your sales letter.

        This probably sounds horribly intimidating to most of you. It doesn’t have to be. I’m a mediocre writer at best, and I’m flat out a lousy sales letter writer. I’ve only written three in my life.

        But you know what? They all made money, and that’s all that matters. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be done.

        I’ll share with you an example of a sales letter I wrote one afternoon in 90 minutes. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely good enough.

        Secrets to a Happy Dog

        e. Decide on a title for your book, and select a corresponding domain name. This should be fairly self-explanatory.

        f. Once the sales letter is done, hire someone to cheaply create site graphics for you.

        Again, use my site above as an example. All of that (and a few more items that aren’t on the page) were created for me for $47.

        g. If you don’t already have a PayPal account, sign up for one so you can accept payments.

        Okay, you should now have a fully functioning website with a sellable product. All of this should have taken you no more than 10 days.

        Now, repeat this process 4 more times.

        You should now be about 60 days into your allotted 90 day time frame. (10 days getting your mind right and ready, and 10 days each for every one of your 5 finished products.)

        You probably think that we should be ready to promote our sites and start making some money! But not quite yet.

        Spend the next 10 days (2 days per site) developing a large set of keywords for use in your promotion efforts. Keyword selection is an entire book in itself, and more than I can go into here. But like everything else, there are plenty of good resources out there to help you.

        h. Okay, you have approximately 3 weeks left. You will spend this remaining time doing two things:

        1. Writing articles for your topics based upon your keywords
        2. Finding a writer (or two) that you will assign writing topics to once you pass the 90 days mark and you are limited to 1 hour of work per day.

        I recommend writing 5-10 articles per day, focusing on one product per day. At the end of your 90 days, you will have 20-40 articles written for each topic, and 100-200 total articles. Submit these to sites like EzineArticles.com.

        i. Day 90 – hire your writer, give them an outline of what you expect from them on a regular basis.

        Day 91

        Okay, you are now limited to one hour per day. What you do with this hour is largely up to and will change over time. Here is how I would use it.

        a. The first few months you will be limited by both time and resources. Focus your efforts on getting the articles posted that are being written for you. EzineArticles is a good option, but not the only option.

        b. Spend whatever remaining time you have each day building traffic in two ways:

        1. Direct traffic
        2. Backlinks

        You do the first one by finding relavent conversations within your niche (blog postings for example) and leave interesting, useful comments, with your URL in the Site Addess field. People who are interested in what you have to say will click on your link and head to your website. A certain percentage will buy.

        The second method involves finding various places to leave anchor-text based backlinks. Your article submissions are one way to do that. Another way is by using any of the numerous link building services available online. A finaly, somewhat grey/black hat way is to create member profiles in popular forums, and leave a backlink in your sig file (but don’t post in the forum!)

        Again, at first you won’t be able to do very much of this in just an hour a day, but if you do it consistently, EVERY SINGLE DAY, your income will slowly increase.

        Take the minimum that you need to live on, and re-invest the rest, by hiring additional writers, and people to help you build up direct traffic and backlinks.

        Eventually, the only thing you will do with your hour a day is make sure your workers are doing what they are supposed to be doing. You will eventually replace all of your activites with other people as your overall income grows.

        In fact, you can eventually hire a person to oversee all of your outsourcers, and the only person you end up supervising and dealing with is your “manager”. That should never take more than one hour a day total if you’ve built your business correctly and hired the right people.

        And that’s it.

        90 days to building a business that will only require one hour of work per day to slowly grow larger and larger over time.

        I focused on the 90 day aspect, but truthfully, this setup scales even better at 6 months or 12 months. You have much more time to build up your products, articles, and income before being reduced to one hour a day. In fact, with 12 months, you probably NEVER have to spend more than an hour a day on this right from the beginning – long before you are restricted to that single hour each day.

        How’s that? :)

        • I realize that I put zero focus on lifestyle changes that might be required. I have some ideas there too, but I think the post above was long enough already…lol.

          • Wow Mike!!!

            I have to say that was quite inspiring. I will soon be headed down this path to freedom and your outline seems like the perfect idea. I think I might just apply 90% of what you said to my approach.

            Thanks for sharing Mike!!!

            David Damron

            • Thanks!

              I hope it’s helpful to you or anyone else out there. It’s a super-condensed step-by-step, with plenty of room for personal adjustments. There’s lots of other ways to achieve the same thing. Blogs, Adsense, affiliate marketing, etc.

              The two consistent aspects you have to have are:

              1) ONE highly scalable plan that you stay 100% focused on.
              2) The plan’s scaling ability must be achievable by anyone – i.e., outsourcing.

              Almost any online plan with those two components and a creative, effective monetization model can be successful in the manner Karol is describing.

          • Mike, you already know how I feel about your detailed action plan. I honestly don’t know what else to say here except thank you.

            And to everybody else: I’m interviewing Mike about this and his Ridiculously Extraordinary Life very soon for the Ridiculously Extraordinary PODCAST! ;)

            • Dave,

              This post has inspired a project – hope Karol doesn’t mind me posting it here!

              You can reach me either at:

              (I’ll have the contact form set up by the end of the day.)

              Or via Twitter:

              I’m not 100% sure where I’m going with this, but I haven’t created anything new from scratch for quite a while and thought it might be interesting to actually follow the plan I laid out above so others can see the results.


  4. First Step: Reduce expenses to a minimal. Sell my house, even at a loss, and pay off all of my debt in the next 12 months. This includes selling my xbox 360, and anything else not tied down in my house. I would want to simplify as much as possible.

    Second step: Create a source of passive income such as freelance writing for blogs based on my area of expertise. Whatever it is I would want to generate enough work to pay my rent and for groceries that is enough.

    Third step: Set up a writing room. 1 hour a day is a lot of time to write a novel or non-fiction work. Most people would be amazed how much they could write in an hour a day. This is an income generating activity that would be passive over time. This would be very simple room. An ergonomic keyboard, large screen, and mac mini that would not be connected to the internet. A bookcase with reference books to the subject/topic I was writing about. A record player with 4 classical records. A comfortable chair of course, a water fountain, and a large hourglass timed to one hour. That is it. This room would be focused on creativity and productivity. I would paint the walls with white board paint as well so I could put an outline on my walls.

    Step four: Enter my room flip the hour glass and work. When the hour is up I leave.

    3 month changes:

    I think my steps would largely be the same, of course I still may have debt left over. The main change would be for 3 months to develop a novel concept, and have a working proposal to sell to a publisher.

    Once a publisher picked it up I would then have the funds to work my hour a day on my novel.

    Going over this plan, I want to do it. I need to spend another hour or so working it out but so far it sounds pretty nice.

    • Thank you so much Combsy! This is good. As far as your 2nd step: what kind of blogs will you target? Which specific blogs? What kind of writing do you want to do?

      As for 3rd step: which publishers are you going to target? And are you writing a novel or non-fiction? It’s important to be specific about that.

      I love the painting your walls with whiteboard paint idea. I’ve never heard of that, but when I have a room again I’m into doing that too. :)

      Thanks for participating!

      • Blogs I would target:
        creative writing blogs
        writing blogs
        Lifestyle design blogs

        Basically any type of blog that relates to novel writing and or lifestyle design. The lifestyle design blogs would be relevant because of this exercise that I would be doing. Tim Ferris’s blog comes to mind, as well as muselife.com. This one of course too.

        I would target my short stories (developed during my novel writing process) at short story magazines, sci-fi magazines, podcasts like escapepod and drabble cast as well.

        I would be writing a fiction novel to start with. However, I think I would chronicle my experiment here as well and release an e-book on how to do what I did. Basically getting twice the material out during one process.

        I would create the e-book material by using voice recording in my office, that way I could make incites while continuing to work on my novel. Otherwise I would be splitting up that 1 hour block of time a day.

        Here is the link to the whiteboard paint http://www.ideapaint.com/site/index.html

        Good stuff!

  5. Hey Karol, great challenge, luckily I’m already working on my plan.

    During November and December, the first things I did was sell and give away most of my possessions. No more bed, no more couch, no more TV, sold extra computers, and a lot more items.

    I gave my roommates one months notice to move out and in December my job a 2 weeks notice of resignation. I’m moving to another state to set up my residency in the state for world travel.

    I’ve reduced all of my expenses dramatically. I keep depositing my checks for my personal account but for some reason I don’t see the balance go down due to bills, its a strange feeling. I’ve kept expenses low, though I’ve not been to the point of almost non-recurring expenses since I was living with my mom when I was a kid. Though my business account is definitely fluctuating with income (#1 reason to own a business) and expenses (#2 reason to own a business).

    In December I’ve written dozens and dozens of headlines for new posts on my new blog I’m going to launch on January 4th which is a small part of my business plan. I’ve been religiously studying marketing and soon psychology to understand ads and sales of my own products and other peoples products. I’ve also been creating some recurring revenue through affiliate marketing of subscription based services with CPC campaigns.

    How does all these above plans work for my 1 hour a day to spend on work?

    Easy, I’m setting up a lot of businesses which will require little input when they are on auto-run. Recurring revenues is passive income after a sale is made for the subscription. I would be able to spend one hour a day after April 1st writing articles, or building parts of joint ventures and solo projects. Writing sales copy or ad campaigns for one hour a day.

    With low expenses (such as living in Tokyo for $200 or less a month in rent) income generation is less important and living life is more important. Luckily I don’t have the tourist mentality when I visit places, I just love waking up in new rooms and meeting new people. It is also great when they show me their favorite local places.

    Your April 1st deadline actually works great because my jaw surgery (awesome) is in March. It will probably become difficult to work on stuff for long on pain killers.

    If you want more elaboration on anything let me know, I’m as specific as my time allows me to, I gotta get back to writing blog posts and write questions for the interview I will email you about.

    • This is so cool Bobby! My favorite part is that you’re in the middle of actually working on the plan. The fact that you got your expenses to within a range of what your business is producing is bad ass. Thank you for rocking it.

      Looking forward to your blog. :)

  6. 1st: I think I would just copy Mike Long’s approach

    2nd: I think if I failed the first time, it was probably my own laziness and retry Mike Long’s approach.

    3rd: If Mike Long’s approach didn’t work (can’t see why not…it is brilliant) I would do the following….

    1- Reduce any and all expenses that are unnecessary.
    2- Reduce any and all activities that are not progressive.
    3- Create a schedule that is longer, harder, more in-depth than the one I had for my last employer and adapt to my lifestyle.
    4- Think about and outline the things,activities,places I LOVE (not like but LOVE)
    5- Start developing ideas, sites, products around my niche.
    6- Develop bonds and connections with others in the field I am interested in getting in to.
    7- Launch products and sites with PUSH from other like-minded and interested people.

    Obviously this is not as drawn out and in depth as Mike Long’s. The reason for that is that I would approach many factors the same way he would. His insight is awesome and I will be attacking my success in the same way.

    This was a great post and I am excited to read more ideas.


    P.S.S. You too Karol….

    David Damron

    • David: Awesome! :) Copying Mike’s approach is a great idea, but thank you for also creating a framework of your own action plan. Even if you did make it 3rd. ;)

  7. That was a totally random way to find my site, but awesome anyway! I like the looks of what you’ve got going on over here. I’m one episode away from finishing season two of Dexter, so I will come back and read more another time!

  8. This is for myself and anyone else who is an artist with imagination, but feel stuck with the 9-5 job because of the fear of being unknown and starving. I also aim to avoid being stuck in a 1:1 time-money ratio (if I want more money I would have to make more stuff in the same amount of time), so the goal of eventually getting to 1 hour a day of effort is important. The key to this is choosing something that scales. Instead of outsourcing, like Mike Long suggests, I’d make sure to work in a medium where infinite copies (prints) can be made, and with a subject that inspires a strong fan base.

    I’ve learned recently that you don’t have to have fantastic skill to make money on art (Amy Brown is doing well for herself, I hear), and you can actually make a comfortable living on art. I feel like the current shift from print-based to digital-based art is opening up a lot opportunities for people with some business strategy smarts.

    (For the artists not yet doing what they love: try reading Art and Fear)

    This is what I will do:

    1. Save up money to give myself some time to be creative on my own schedule. I started doing this 6 months ago, now I have enough to last me 3-4 months of basic expenses, plus supplies.

    2. My lease is up in April, so I will move to a less expensive place than the bay area, likely Portland or New Orleans – good, vibrant places with existing art communities.

    3. Quit my job, set up a creative space in my house. Keep exercising and being social! Those things give me energy. Keeping up mental energy at this stage would be very important.

    4. Create an amazing story. This takes time and I only want to invest time in something I love, so I would have to do much of this work in private at first. I may create several short stories to help me structure them and feel like I was “finishing” something along the way.

    I’d aim to create characters that people love and a world they want to spend time in. I wouldn’t try to appeal to everyone, I would just focus on people like myself.

    5. Draw it. This would take some time. I’d focus on spending 1-3 months working on this. I would turn it into my full-time job.

    6. Get a domain, put the work up. Let people comment on it, give them a place to discuss the ideas. Lots of webcomic artists keep to a regular weekly updating schedule, so whatever I make I would do that too. This gives people a reason to visit your site often.

    I would also start spreading the word. I’d join online art communities and post work. I’d draw fanart for other people to get my name out there. I’d print business cards and give them to people I met.

    At the same time I’d set myself up to sell prints, t-shirts, pins, patches, posters, anything that made sense. Since I’m me, I would make sure these things were made of sustainable, eco-friendly materials, so people can buy their stuff without trashing the world.

    7. After 12 months of saving, writing, drawing and marketing, my 1 hour a day would be used to draw more, research new ways to put my art on sellable things, or attend art events in my chosen city. I would bend the rules a bit and say I’d spend one full day (6-7 hours) a week working on art, because I like to work in big chunks of time. :)

    My inspiration for a lot of these ideas comes from a webcomic artist called Spike. She has a great revenue model doing a few things, using the newest tools on the web. She “ransoms off” short comics that are unlocked when enough people donate a certain amount. She also launched a Kickstarter comic project that people found interesting, so it raised more than 200% of its capital ($13,606). She auctions off ad space on her site using Project Wonderful. Even though she posts all her pages for free, her graphic novel compilations make her the most money. She uses Twitter, and posts interesting opinions in addition to her comic updates. A good story, smart strategies and loud opinions go a long way to making people interested in her, which in turn makes her more money.

    12 months would be about as long as it took for me to build up a useful portfolio of art to release over time, and probably how long it would take for my community to build. For a 6-month time constraint, I’d start releasing my work earlier, so I’d have to draw a lot as I went. A 3-month limit would mean that I would have to start creating my story in the evenings while also working full or part-time at another job. I know that works for some people, but I find that schedule hard to be creative within.

    Whew! I’m right at the quitting my job stage of this plan, so wish me luck. :)

    • Thank you Rachel, you’ve got a lot of well researched ideas here. Have you considered starting a blog (or even something like a YouTube channel) to document the process of what you’re doing? Being that you’re at the “quitting your job stage” I think a lot of artists (and others too) would be interested in reading your story.

      • A blog is an excellent idea. I have totally started like 4 of those before and they all have died a slow death of “it’s not good enough, so I won’t write it/launch it/show it publicly”. One of my goals for this year is to get over that phenomenon.

        PS, this exercise is very sneaky. I find myself thinking “I could totally do this” instead of my usual “well, maybe I’ll just do boring work for more money instead of trying to live off my art…”.

        • Hi Rachel,

          The exercise was meant to be a bit sneaky. ;)

          As far as art blogs, I’m not sure anybody does it better than Val at http://valsartdiary.com/

          She’s been doing YouTube blogging for 3 years (I discovered her about 2 years ago) and as far as I know she is very successful.

          Hopefully that’ll give you some additional inspiration.


          P.S. When you start your blog let me know. :)

  9. Hi Karol,

    kudos to you for another great post.

    In this position I would spend the next 90 days completing my 100 Things challenge, sell the house and buy a Yurt. That takes care of the accommodation side of things.

    I would set up automated billing for all my clients and expedite the launching of my new products, all of which have been tailored around minimal work on my part that can be done from anywhere.

    I would also focus on monetizing my blogs and wedsites so that each one earned me a nominal daily income that combined was sufficient to keep me in organic food. Something akin to the 10 sites each earning $10 a day that I have read about.

    • Thanks Andrew. :)

      I like it. You’re taking a living off the grid approach that I didn’t expect. Staying in a Yurt for a night is still on my list of things to do. Maybe I’ll find one in India, Thailand, or Poland. :)

      Since you already work online you’re in a different position than most people who have to start from scratch.

      Any idea what you would do if you did have to start from scratch with your business?


  10. Great exercise Karol. I’m assuming use the long and short term disability insurance I’ve purchased is not the answer your looking for, :)

    I’d continue to work my current job as it pays pretty well and allows me to save money. I’d sell my house (which is worth more than I owe) and add that to my savings to create passive (IE investment) income. I’d sell all my crap and limit myself to a backpack or so full of items. In order to live out my time here I’d rent a room somewhere close to work for a few hundred a month. Then get rid of the car to reduce overhead and walk/bike everywhere. Essentially cut my out of pocket expenses to the 5-700 dollar/month range. Save the difference.

    If I were on the 6-12 month plan I’d take a second job to save more. If I were on the 3 month plan I think I’d be to busy to really do much extra work.

    OK. Yes, that allows me to work and save for 3-12 months. I’ve already got some savings and would be able to add to it.

    The big thing for me is I’m in the medical profession and earn pretty good coin. When my time here were up I’d move to the developing world….probably India. There are large groups of expatriates there who still want “American” health care. I would work there serving expatriates 1 hour per day (Or hopefully 7 hours per week to leave 6 days for travel).

    It is my understanding that one can live very comfortably in India for 6-8,000 per year and between passive income from my investments and the bit I would earn from working I could earn that very very easily.

    My situation is different in that I already have a pretty nice investment nest egg and can work in many parts of the world. Truth is (as we discussed via Email) I’m already planning something very similar to this when I go nomadic in about two years. At that point I’m planning to work essentially part time for the rest of my life.

    • Thanks for sharing publicly Jason. Yes, we have talked about it via e-mail and I like your plan. You’re working 24 months out, but what’s important is you have a plan of action.

      In terms of this specific exercise, what I’m wondering is, can you find a health care job that will let you work only 7 hours/week in India?


      • Hey, Karol, the best answer I can give is “I think I can find 7 hour per week work over seas”.

        Many countries have colonies of American expatriates. They usually want “American” health care and the largest of these (Which are like American cities with movie theaters, schools etc) will bring over Americans to provide health care. My thought was to work at one of those colonies part time…essentially 1 day per week.

        For those readers who might benefit: I am a physician assistant in Orlando. I am planning to go nomadic in about two years. I may work a few extra months for some tax purposes but I’ll be ready in two years. I plan to divide my time between:
        1) Volunteering in the third world. Basically anywhere in Africa and shittier parts of Asia.
        2) Living in the second world: Basically anywhere in latin america and nicer parts of Asia.
        3) Working in the US to earn money to support 1 and 2
        4) Chilling in Orlando with family/friends.

        I plan to start with a roughly even mix and do less and less of 4 as my roots here wither.

        So ultimately, I plan something similar to an hour per day as 365 productive hours per year is like 9 weeks of full time work so this exercise is not that far off what I’ve planned for myself. I expect to work more like 3-4 months per year.

        For me, Karol, this article evokes a larger question. That is: What standard of living do I want? Can I tolerate? How will I spend the OTHER 23 hours per day? I mean I can only meditate so long, LOL.

        Most of your posters seem to focus on only half the equation: Income. Yes. that is important to manage. But managing outflow is (IMO) just as critical.

  11. overall plan – start a not for profit selling consumer products that are in demand and no compromise in price, convenience or quality is required for consumers swapping to this product – think of something like http://www.onedifference.org

    12 months out – write business plan, establish relationships with professionals like accountants, lawyers, banks, event planner, website designer, establish relationships with other social entrepreneurs by providing them with something of value. Find company suitable for manufacture/drop shipping product. Create website and brand and start building a community facebook, twitter, blog, start original direct marketing campaign. Get media attention. Hire and train a person to manage freelancers, professional service providers and report to me. Write systems to control all processes even if they aren’t perfect tweaking systems doesn’t take much time. I would live overseas for a large portion of this time to reduce my expenses

    6 months out would be quite similar i would just hire the person sooner

    3 months i would write a vision statement for the company a marketing plan and a list of daily metrics that i want reported back to me, i would hire my go to person immediately and use recommendations from friends/mentors about professional services. Media and marketing i would intensify with some out of the ordinary methods think Virgin-ish and try to partner with targeted companies, systems would have to be written i guess i would do pretty much everything the same but i would be working 24hrs a day for the 3 months. 6 months is a good timeframe.

    i make an income from the company as CEO that would be modest – I would want to work more than 1 hour cause i would be passionate about it, but one hour is totally possible i would review daily metrics, work out changes to be made based on the trends and do marketing based activities the rest of the hour.

    I quit my job 12 months ago and have been travelling trying to think of an idea that would give me a passive income so i didn’t have to work anymore, after not working for 9 months there was some kind of empty feeling like what the fuck am I here for even though I was training kickboxing 7 hrs a day or doing yoga 3 hrs a day so its not like I have just been bumming around (insert Australian accent), so while working one hour a day might be the dream for some people from experience I can say I would much rather work on designing a life I am passionate about where I can provide value and live the lifestyle I choose – rather than a life where I make money for nothing providing questionable real value. Value is also different to EVERYONE so the last statement is aimed directly at me.

    I think you may feel somewhat the same way about contribution Karol otherwise I don’t think you would have this blog????

    • Thanks for contributing KLee!

      The point of the exercise was to “work on designing a life I am passionate about where I can provide value and live the lifestyle I choose” and not to “make money for nothing providing questionable real value.” (I’m not sure what you mean by “money for nothing.”)

      The first step to designing a life we’re passionate about is figuring out how we’re going to make money to live that life. :) If the income and the passion come doing the same thing, all the better.

      Like you said, value is different for everybody. I feel like I’m providing value with this blog and hopefully others feel the same. I work more on this blog than most projects and it provides no income (on purpose) right now. That’s cool with me.

      The goal with the exercise was to break pads and to think about life a little bit. It’s not about working 1 hour/day and sitting around watching TV for 23. :)


  12. Well, I’m in the 3 month crunch right now. I quit my job with enough savings for 4 months to figure out what I’m doing with my life. I had started http://www.whatamidoingwithmylife.com as a way of exploring my options and what not, but I think I may turn it into something entirely new, a resource for like minded people, who are looking for ideas and inspiration. I’m just not sure as to what direction to take it in, what people are looking for, what would be beneficial for the online community, and above all sustainable.

  13. First step would be to cut out most video game, tv, internet then use that extra time to create 3d models to sell on TurboSquid. To stop myself from getting burnt out I’d go hiking and read more (as a replacement for the video games), but my main focus would be to build up a large set of models in the 3 month time frame. I would also negotiate for better pay at my current job and use that money to survive until I quit/ money starts coming in from people buying my models off Turbosquid. After my 3 months were up I would use my 1 hour to improve my models and create new ones. Since it technically isn’t making money for me (yet) I would focus time outside that 1 hour on improving my animation skills and eventually make money using that, but I haven’t figured out a way to sell it yet other than finding a real job.

    I’m really happy to see other people finding ways to actually use their plans. This was more of a a plan for me to rush and make money to support myself but it doesn’t really fit with what I want to be doing with my life. My real goal is to improve my animation every day and build a better portfolio but I’m not sure how to fit that into the 3 month 1 hour time frame.

    • Thank you for sharing Allison!

      “My real goal is to improve my animation every day and build a better portfolio…” – nice! What are the steps you need to take to make that happen?


  14. Hey Karol, I’m one of the people who started subscribing to your site after your guest post on Zen Habits. I have to say I love your approach to writing, and your fresh ideas.

    I’m 24, a somewhat fresh grad, and I’ve been asked “so what are you going to do now?” so many times in the past few months I almost wanted to hurl myself off a not too steep cliff, but steep enough that people would feel bad asking.

    The more they asked, the more anxious I got. I had just started a job I hated, one I ended up with passively. I had only more distasteful options pre-approved for me by everyone who was asking. So I quit my job blindly, without a plan.

    Your post sure came at the right time. I needed someone to ask “so what are you going to do?” without all the unsaid limitations on what my answer should be. The specified limitations you gave were so much better and designed -I suspect- to circumvent someone saying “I don’t know yet,” which has been my stock response thus far.

    Step 1 of my plan is to write and record a 10 track “album” (I’m a closet singer-songwriter) using tools I already have. I have three tracks written already, and a few half and quarter ones that can be finished up if new inspiration does not suffice. This should take approximately 2 and a half months. If less time is used for this I can either add more songs or move up Step 2.

    Step 2 is to sign up for Myspace, Youtube, and everywhere else a musician can go to if they want to be heard. This should take three days of signing up for, learning to use and finding more avenues. Signing up for digital distribution will come at the very end.

    Step 3 is to formulate a promotional plan that will get my music heard utilizing all the resources found in Step 2. On the last day of the 3 months, I will make all final preparations.

    Step 4 is to launch and spend an hour a day getting my music heard.

    Here’s the thing. I dunno about the money. I just really want to try something like this. I’ve always sang and I started playing guitar when I was 13, but there are people who have known me all my life who haven’t heard a peep out of me. I just want to know if my childhood dreams were pleasant pastimes or a probable reality.

    Wish me luck!

    PS. Just in case it turns out I’m like one of those American Idol tryout geeks who really think they have talent when their singing makes kittens cry, I’m going to copy Mike Longs comment to a .txt document and save it to my desktop =D

  15. Hiya,
    Awesome post and fantastic replies. I take my hat off to Mike and Karol.

    I’d follow Mike’s plan. For the 12 month version, I’d give myself 10 days to get my head clear and focused. I’d be more inclined to split my time between a project I’ve got in mind and what comes from distilling my passions and where that overlaps with what I’m good at and can make money from.

    With the 6 month plan I’d do a 2 day exploration to see if the project I’ve got in mind is feasible.

    With the 3 month plan I’d be more likely to focus on training myself on managing outsourcing and focusing on what I’m good at. I’d hire a tiny crew, good camera, and create 3x informational video products. I’d spend the first month prepping the content, 5 days shoot, 12 days editing & post production. The remaining 5 /12 weeks I’d spend writing articles, building traffic and back links.
    Great exercise, thanks heaps for posting it.

  16. Karol, I’m new to our blog as of today and I’m having a great time reading the back copy. This post is great. I already have that 1 hour situation due to being disabled and unable to spend a lot of time doing anything. So while I don’t have an anser for you yet I can say that this is quite a good challenge for me. Since one thing I struggle with is brain fog by the end of the day I will tackle this in the AM when I am fresh.

      • Ah morning! My brain is more in gear. I think Mike has this pretty well pegged even in my case where I don’t have any lead time. The steps are still relevant and required. For me, it just means concentrating my awake time in bed or the recliner on the thinking part of this so that the one hour or so that I have I can use at the computer. I also know what I am going to start with. An e-book on living with chronic illness. So my work now is to research some more, organize it, write it and put it out there. I finally feel like I have a viable way to make money even though I am restricted in my time. Your post and all of the comments (especially Mike’s) have really helped me. Thanks.

        • Hi Deb!

          Thank you for your kind words. I’m thrilled beyond words that so many have found my comment helpful. I just finished expanding and updating the comment into a free 60 page ebook. I modified things slightly to make them more appropriate for a book, and it’s now a 31 day program, but the foundations haven’t really changed. Just repeat the process two more times to get to the 90 day point. :)

          Anyway, if you have any interest, feel free to click on my name and download it. I really hope that it helps a lot of people change their lives by building “Freedom Businesses” in that way the both Karol and I have done over the years.

          Best of luck to you!!


          • I have done some market research on this and have had several people ask me to write it. I plan to do some more research though before I actually do it. More for what would be best to write about than the book itself though. I already have an audience for it based on a couple of doctors who think I should write it. I like the idea of an ebook better than a hard back though and that is what they were suggesting.

  17. I’m reading through past blogs and really enjoying them. Gold nuggets everywhere. Mike Long in response, provided an excellent piece in which he referred to an ebook he was making available based around his post. I have tried the links provided but they were unsuccessful. Are you able to suggest how I may obtain a copy. Appreciate your assistance.

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