We coined the phrase “Personal Diversification” as we recognised that our lives, having “stepped off” the treadmill were incredibly varied. We moved to Cumbria in 2001 – the year the county and so many farmers and small businesses were affected by the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak. Some funding came into Cumbria for farm diversification projects – many converted barns to holiday accommodation, others opened farm shops and tea rooms. While our lives after selling the Smokehouse did not have main purpose as farmers do – we have certainly diversified!
Much of the work we do with clients is when people feel they have lost control of where they are going – that is a common reason for wanting to step off or to downshift. To a certain extent we have diversified without a clear plan – but because we HAD taken back control of our destiny we were better placed – mentally and emotionally – to take advantage of opportunities that have come our way, as well as to say “no” to others. Smoky Jo’s has taken on a life of its own – we have had some fabulous publicity about the food smoking courses we run – and we now run them at a local hotel, The Wild Boar Inn, where not only do they do the washing up but the smoked food is served for the evening meal for our guests and us! We write a column for a local magazine, we are volunteer business mentors and Jo co-ordinates the Cumbria-wide scheme. I do a bit of web design and book-keeping – skills I have learnt as I have needed them. Most of all we are able to choose our hours… if the day is beautiful, we are out there enjoying the splendour of Cumbria – or at least gardening! If you had told us in 2001 what life would hold for us in ten years time we could not have begun to imagine what we now have. Our personal diversification gives us about nine income streams – none of them very big – and a priceless personal freedom.
This morning Jo set off early to fly to the Isle of Man to work as a professional speaker. Her speech today is “I’ve always worn purple“. Because why should we wait till we’re old to do crazy things? Why must we worry so much about saving for a rainy day – if we could do with a bit of cheering up now?! We do not advocate recklessness, but reviewing our priorities and values and making adjustments – minor or major – where possible to regain control of our lives can open up so many doors…
If you feel we may be able to help you, please get in touch… here’s the latest email from our Stepping Off alumnus, Vicky in Thailand:
“I cant believe a year ago I was in my flat paralysed about my next move and the options open to me and now I am here it feels very strange sometimes, for the first few weeks it felt like a holiday, then I felt I was skiving school but now it feels good and I can’t believe I have to go for my visa run soon.
“Going forward I am not sure what I am going to do and to be perfectly honest I am not thinking about it just yet. I am meeting so many people and I have so many new thoughts everyday I am enjoying the freedom of not having to do anything for the time being I might train to be a dive master if I can get over my fear of fish, I might go work as a PA in Dubai for 6 months until the next season, I might see about joining a crew on a boat for a few months, I really don’t know. I have enough money to see me through until the end of the season as long as I don’t go crazy, but to be honest I don’t need to go crazy I am not substituting buying new things for happiness, it’s right here on this beach and every week I am learning new things. A few weeks ago I learnt to drive a speed boat and I am currently getting to grips with riding a motorbike which is keeping me very busy!!! Next will be sailing the hobie cat which looks great fun!
Again I can’t say how thankful I am that I came to see you last April I would never have done it if it hadn’t been for the help and support of you both, I truly feel like I have ‘Stepped Off’ and it feels wonderful.”