An Anatomy of a Checklist: Breaking Down Free At 50's 6-Step Checklist to Escape the 9-5 for your Success

An Anatomy of a Checklist: Breaking Down Free At 50's 6-Step Checklist to Escape the 9-5 for your Success

Sep 14, 2022

The ‘why’ behind my 6-Step Checklist to Escape the 9-5.

As I continue creating life doing what I love (writing, spending time with people I love etc.), there is a clear path I’ve taken. And continue to follow. It makes sense that since the Free At 50 blog is 100% focused on sharing inspiration and resources for the successful 9-5 escape, I reveal my personal learnings- that’s what the Free At 50 blog is built on, right?

Creating the 6-Step Checklist to Escape the 9-5 was a no-brainer for me and using it is vital for you. It includes prompts, worksheets, and resources.

Let’s be clear: I want to blog. I still have no plans to create a course or product. Or to be a business coach. I love writing. And I want each and every one of you to pursue whatever it is you LOVE, using your skills to get out of the 9-5 and into your next chapter.

All of that said, there really needs to be more to the Free At 50 brand if I want this blog to have an impact and reach millions.

Or at least a whole mess of people that will find it helpful.

Grab the checklist here.

Note: Heads up, this post is full of links (all open in a new window) so don’t get overwhelmed, just open them, and visit them tab by tab. You can even drop the URLs in Evernote for free or bookmark them in a folder marked “Free At 50” to save them.

Photo credit: Free stock photos from Groove

Note: As a blogger, I use affiliate links sometimes! I may receive commission from purchases on links I share, but it does not change your price.

Why use a checklist?

For me, it’s part of everything I do! I have a weekly to-do list, monthly tasks, and goals I track in my Epic Blog planner --and if I work on a project, I always have a checklist dedicated to it. It’s how I track my progress and also, let’s be honest, get the satisfaction of checking things off.

But there are other reasons why using a checklist is valuable, not just the tracking and joy I mentioned above.

Without a checklist, your whole life (I’m not being dramatic!) can feel like clutter and chaos. And that my friends, can make you feel stuck.

Especially when your goal is to do something as life-altering as escaping the 9-5.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

There’s a science behind clutter and how it affects your brain. Read my friend Carissa’s post on That Darn Amygdala here.

A checklist created from someone else’s expertise and experience can go miles in guiding you to learn a new habit or skill. Also in creating anything from a blog post to a work of art, or succeeding in attaining a goal for example.

RELATED: This article on Checkify simplifying why to use a checklist.

Photo by Nirzar Pangarkar on Unsplash

Who needs the 6-Step Checklist to Escape the 9-5?

Everyone reading this post.

Readers and members of my Ditching the 9-5 Facebook group, typically fall into one of these stages:

  • Thinking about escaping the 9-5.
  • Working on a side hustle to make it happen.
  • Already out of corporate life and building a business.
  • Already out of your 9-5 and deciding your next step.

RELATED: Join the Ditching the 9-5 Facebook group here.

If you’ve read my early-on post about how my Covid layoff was a blessing, you’ll see that the idea for the checklist came right from that post! I listed out each step.

  1. Find your why.
  2. Shift your mindset.
  3. Narrow your options.
  4. Research the best fit.
  5. Build your toolkit.
  6. Take action.

    Photo credit: free stock photos from Groove

    When do you need it?

    You can use this checklist (and truly benefit!) at any and all stages. If you’ve already “done” some of the steps, revisiting them is vital as part of the process. And if you’ve skipped ahead without really digging into your why and shifting your mindset, taking time to do both are equally important.

    Let's discuss each step.

    Anatomy of Step 1: Finding your why is the bare bones.

    Dig deeper: it’s not just about earning income. Money is a motivator for sure: we all want to put food on the table and live a life we love.

    But your why is really about:

    • What gets you excited.
    • A legacy you may want to leave.
    • Owning your time.
    • What else?

    Using the checklist to dig deep and get to the core of why you want to ditch 9-5 life and build a new chapter is truly Step 1.

    Below is my video discussion with business coach, entrepreneur, wife, mom, and Air Force veteran Meghan Stockman- she is an expert into Finding Your Why.

    Anatomy of Step 2: Shifting your mindset will blow your mind.

    Simply put, there’s a whole universe out there!

    As a member of the Gen X generation, I get it. We’ve all been conditioned (harsh but true) to limiting beliefs of the 9-5 tradition. Break them!

    Reading The 4-Hour Workweek was mind-blowing to me. Not only was it ok to want more from life, to want to own my time, to enjoy every moment possible… but it’s a GOOD THING. This whole book was an affirmation that my thoughts of semi-retirement, earning income on my schedule and doing what I love is not crazy.

    My goal with Step 2: help you go beyond the limiting beliefs of Gen X and 9-5 life. I even created a whole category on my blog dedicated to shifting your mindset.

    Below is my video discussion with business and mindset coach Hannah Shtein about Step 2.

    Anatomy of Step 3: Narrowing your options will ground you to the core.

    This is where you make your first decision regarding your next chapter. Looking at your skills and your passions, what can you do to earn income?

    For me, this was a light lit by The 4 Hour Workweek. I realized there are actually a ton of options (and the internet was a little overwhelming in letting me know that!).

    How I narrowed it down: I took stock of what I wanted to focus on and what was out there. I knew I wanted to positively impact people by empowering them and connecting them to resources that highlighted their skills. It was something I’d done for years running a national staff training program working with emerging and successful leaders.

    I also wanted to be creative. Loving writing, it had to be one of my options. So I narrowed them down to two.

    Below is my video discussion about Step 3 with blogger Kayla Schilthuis-Ihrig, creator of Writing from Nowhere.

    Anatomy of Step 4: Researching the best fit will calm your brain.

    Once you’ve narrowed down what you want to do with your next chapter, focusing on research is important. In Step 3, I decided I’d be taking one of two paths: small business consulting or blogging.

    For me, researching brings me a sense of Zen. Just knowing I have a solid basis for making decisions takes away stress. So for Step 4, the worksheet that comes with the checklist focused on listing your resources and what research you need to do. Having it all in one place.

    Below is my video discussion about Step 4 with Nora Luke, fellow corporate escapee who now coaches others on building life outside the 9-5.

    Anatomy of Step 5: Building your toolkit is like building muscle.

    Think of building your toolkit like building muscle. Every resource you add to it will make you stronger.

    You don’t have to use every tool your find immediately, so storing it somewhere is important. Don’t get caught up (like I easily do) with “shiny objects” that distract you. Instead, save the resources for when you need them.

    By saving ideas, articles, courses, videos, and links along the way, you won’t have to start from scratch every time you take on a new project. You may already have foundational elements at your fingertips. Having the resources section of the checklist will be a massive help!

    Below is my video discussion with entrepreneur and blog coach Margaret Bourne about how to effectively build your toolkit.

    Anatomy of Step 6: Taking action will move your whole body and being forward.

    There’s no doubt, taking an action, any action, will give you momentum to take the next one. You’ll reach your goals.

    And yes, this is step 6 but the truth is this: moving through each step, even downloading the checklist, is an action!

    I closed the list with taking action to ensure you move into your next chapter with confidence and excitement but it’s a never-ending step. Keep moving forward.

    For a boost of inspiration and motivation, read this guest post from Skye Sauchelli sharing the benefits of taking action.

    Below is my video discussion with my business coach on the value of taking action. If you want to discuss taking action- blogging or otherwise, book a FREE call with me here!

    How to use the checklist.

    Download it and read the instructions.

    The checklist you download, has an opening letter from me, the literal checklist of each step, worksheets with prompts to guide you as your work on each step and, importantly, links to resources I recommend along the way.

    The resources are listed at the end and numbered for quick reference.

    Obviously, you can use other resources, but I have put together free and affiliate resources based on what I use and have researched to kickstart you on each step! From Groove (the all-in-one platform where this blog is housed) to courses like The 30-Day Branded Blog Challenge for anyone with an online business.

    Image by yousafbhutta from Pixabay

    Revisit each step.

    This is not a one-and-done. For example, you may need to revisit your why (I did and wrote about it!). It can get quickly pushed back as you get busy with building your business.

    Or you may need to shift you mindset on different conditioned or innate beliefs along the way. From breaking the 9-5 tradition of managing time and living by the clock, to ditching the belief that a corporate paycheck equals job security.

    When you get stuck, feel hesitant, or simply want to reiterate your process, go back to any step.

    Image by Alexa from Pixabay

    Move forward and use the checklist.

    • Download it here.
    • Use the links I’ve provided throughout this post.
    • For each step, check out the video listed.
    • Share thoughts and ideas both in the comments section and in the Facebook group!
    • Take it step-by-step and make escaping the 9-5 your reality and make it permanent.
    • Book a FREE call with me here to discuss blogging or any other options for your next chapter. If you want to move forward working together, my offer is available!
    • Bookmark this post as a resource!