Season 1 Episode 9
There was a point in the last episode where I spoke about how my Grandma used to tell me stories of what it was like during the war. Her tales of resilience during those days have always given me strength and helped me see perspective, forcing a comparison between my own petty problems and the real dangers of the world. My Grandmother has been one of the biggest inspirations in my life. An incredibly wise, patient and empathetic woman. We were very close, and have been exchanging letters, writing to each other about philosophy, politics and spirituality for nearly 10 years. I’ve got a huge pile of her letters under my bed that I often read through. When someone bought her an Amazon Echo as a gift last year, I figured that a good way for me to be able to keep her updated, in more detail than was possible with letters, was to record snippets of my life and find a way for her to listen to them on the Echo. When I discovered that you can play podcasts on those devices, I knew I had my solution.
“A podcast?” She said “What on earth is that?”
She of course went on to become the biggest fan of the show, listening to every episode, telling her friends about it and giving me constant feedback and encouragement. She was like that with everything I did in life, always supporting, encouraging and inspiring. Always bigging me up to her friends. Just a classic Grandma really.
Last episode’s shoutout now feels incredibly poignant, as she sadly passed away at the beginning of this week. She had reached a ripe old age, made her peace with the world, and was ready to go. It was sad, of course, but not tragic. As natural as the sunrise and sunset. I went to visit her at the end of last week, when we knew that the cancer was getting worse and time was running out. She still had her marbles and her infectious sense of humour, but was physically weak. We took it in turns to go and see her as she didn’t have the energy to entertain groups. I sat in front of her and she held my hand and told me how proud was of me she was, how much joy I had brought into her life. I thanked her for being an amazing Grandparent and such a figure of positivity and support in my life. I said, as I have before, that I started the podcast for her; that I was speaking to her in these episodes, keeping her up to date on a story I know she follows eagerly. I said that for this reason, after she was gone I would keep up the podcast, keep it going, keep writing and producing. Keep improving, keep being honest about my thoughts and experiences. Through the highs and the lows, the wins and the woes, the losses and the lessons; I would continue reaching out and speaking to her through these episodes, and continue living life in a way that would make her proud.
As we approach the end of Season 1 of Tim Quit His Job, I feel more than ever that we are now turning a page, beginning a new chapter – a new era. Just as the sunsets on one horizon, it dawns on another, and the landscapes of tomorrow will soon come into view. In the relatively short time Henri and I have been making this show, we’ve already made a thousand mistakes, but learnt a thousand lessons. Lessons we will take with us into the next season, a season that will be far more suitable to life in the current climate, with shorter, more engaging, and more insightful episodes.
But in the meantime, we’ve got an episode to be getting on with!
This is episode 9 of Tim Quit His Job. The show that follows me on my adventures into the unknown as I quit my job, start a business and try to live life on my own terms. It’s a show for people who like to do things differently. For people who believe there is more to life than the 9-5. I’m not a guru, not an expert, not a preacher – and I don’t try to be. I’m Just a regular guy with a microphone, trying to document my journey, share what I’m learning and be honest about my experiences. The podcast is brought to life and produced by the ever-exuberant, Henri Victorious. If you like the music in these episodes, check him out on Spotify. This is the final episode of season 1, we’ll be taking a two week break whilst we work on the next season. For new listeners, please feel free to go back over any of the episodes in season 1, they can be listened to in any order at your leisure. Although there is a narrative that runs through many of them, they can be enjoyed as standalone episodes, each one containing its own message. I’d appreciate any suggestions you have regarding the next season. So far, feedback has been that I should stick with the shorter episodes and be more consistent with releases, so that’s what we’ll work on. I’ll also work on the website, and try and make it more of a live blog, with links to useful articles and content – perhaps even some videos if we branch out in that direction.
Enjoy the episode…
Those that have been following along so far will know that I’ve been documenting my journeys into the world of entrepreneurship over the last 4 months. It’s not been easy, an uphill struggle to say the least. In the last episode, I spoke of the way the outbreak of Covid-19 has negatively affected my business and the way I work, adding to the challenges I already face. As you may know, I make the bulk of my income writing speculative funding applications for different charities and non-profits. If these funding applications are not accepted, the charity receives no money. And neither do I. No win, no fee. And these funds that we apply for are incredibly competitive. Some funders accept fewer than 5% of applicants. And because many applicants have been in the game far longer than I, I am even more likely to be one of the unlucky 95% who receive a polite rejection email for all my efforts. It’s brutal.
And yet, it is during lockdown, these darkest days of my business, that I have just achieved the biggest success of my career so far. The most substantial and significant funding proposal I have ever written has been accepted. Not only is it for the largest amount of money I’ve ever applied for, it is also my first successful application for an international project. It turns out that weathering the storm may just have paid off!
The proposal for this project took me ages. It was easily the most complex, challenging and competitive fund I’ve ever applied for. It took me at least 7 full working days to complete. It was a nightmare. A really hard grind. All done without guaranteed pay, just a slim hope that the work might pay off. And it did! The fact that it got accepted not only means I get a great payout for those 7 days of work, but it also means that my client now has their foot in the door with one of the most prestigious funders on the planet, presenting them – and me – with countless new opportunities moving forward.
As someone who studied international development at uni, this success means I have now, by hook and by crook, squeezed my way into the international development industry; the industrial complex that administers, manages and delivers all the international aid and charity projects across the globe. This industry is notoriously competitive and exceedingly difficult to enter. It usually takes people years just to get to the bottom of the ladder. There are numerous difficult paths you can take to enter the industry, from highly competitive grad schemes, to years of volunteering until you manage to wrangle a job – but I somehow found a different way, my own. Clearly not by queuing at the front door, but by smashing a window and climbing in.
As a result of getting the charity the funds to carry out the project in Tanzania, I’ve been given the chance to oversee and manage the project as a consultant. I have delivered and managed projects in the UK, but this will be my first on an international scale, and will require me to visit East Africa a couple of times this year (virus depending of course). As I write this, I realise that last year I posted on Instagram saying that I would be back to East Africa this year to live and work. Okay, the living part is not there yet. But I am legitimately managing a project in the region, and now beginning to manifest my dreams in that regard.
At the height of lockdown, in the middle of the storm, my greatest triumph to date has been realised.
It reminds of what I spoke about in episode 2, something my friend Aden said to me when I looking to find my way out of the conventional 9-5…
“In order to get more in life, you must first be thankful for what you already have”
I think it’s fair to say that I have more than my fair share of enthusiasm, but I often fall for being a bit too negative and hard on myself, diminishing accomplishments in my head. Not appreciating how far I’ve come. When I pause, take a step back and look at this particular success, I find it hard not to gloss over it, in favour of looking ahead at what I don’t have, what I have yet to strive for – have yet to achieve.
It’s important to have friends like Aden, who can help you counter this impulse, and live life with the appropriate amount of gratitude.
Henri Victorious, the mysterious music man who works behind the scenes on this podcast, also gave me some advice regarding this lately. Not about learning to appreciate the big wins, but learning to celebrate the small ones too. I had been expressing some frustration at finding the podcast episodes harder and more time consuming to write, at slow growth, at less positive feedback – this all compounded by the lockdown and a struggling business. He said, that if you focus too much on big milestones, you miss the small victories that can pass us by. Perhaps these are the small victories that in the days before you got caught up in the ‘big picture’ you would’ve really appreciated. Raise a glass to the little milestones too, he said. Pat yourself on the back every now and again – Enjoy the process.
Amidst the larger, long term struggle that is life, I had forgotten to take note of some really important things. This is episode 9 of the podcast! I was worried that we would bottom out after 4 episodes. Going back through them all, I’ve calculated that I’ve written just under 24,000 words so far! That’s twice as many as my final year dissertation, and in only 4 months! All other statistics of the podcast aside, both positive and negative, that is an achievement in itself, something to really be proud of. I could’ve quit many thousands of words ago, but I’ve managed to keep pushing on, keep writing down my thoughts and experiences, then trying to articulate them in a relatable and useful way for the audience. A small toast to us, then, for making it this far.
A quiet moment of appreciation for our efforts. As we once again prepare to push on into the future.
So by all means, look to the future and see what mountains still need to be climbed, but show gratitude for how far you’ve travelled. The big wins that you’ve downplayed. The smaller wins, that you completely overlooked.
Last week, just 4 days before she passed away, my Grandma held my hand and said how proud she was with all that I had done in life so far. She looks me in the eye, squeezes my hand reassuringly and says, ‘I’ll still be watching your accomplishments when I’m gone, and if you feel the wind at your back, a moment of encouragement, that’ll be me, spurring you on.’
It’s been less than a week since she passed, and already I feel that encouragement, propelling me on as my podcast, my business and my life, enter a new chapter. And what highs and lows will this chapter bring? Well, keep listening to the podcast, and I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
This was episode 9, the final episode of season one of Tim Quit His Job, The show that follows me on my adventures into the unknown as I quit my job, start a business and try to live life on my own terms. The first episode of season 2 will be released in two weeks. IN the meantime, feel free to go back over any episodes in season 1, they don’t have to be listened to in order. If you ever miss an episode, don’t worry about it, it’s not essential to catch every one. A massive shoutout to everyone who has given this show a chance and given me the motivation to keep it going. Without you I wouldn’t do it. So thankyou, and see you in a couple of weeks.