hiring during “pretirement”


The 48 hours leading up to Alt Summit where quite a whirlwind.

By the time that I was preparing to leave for the conference I had a massive amount of work to accomplish in very little time.

You see, I haven’t mentioned all that I’m doing now that I’ve pre-retired (I call this “pretirement”) and pursued my vocation after closing my accessory shop.

Since making this shift and focusing on service, some amazing doors have opened.

Right now it’s pretty hard to answer the simple question, “So what do you do?” as I found out on flights to and from Salt Lake City last week. The short answer (“I help people”) sounds like I don’t have a career at all, and the full answer takes, like, 20 minutes.

Currently I do the following in my pretirement:

  • Blog here 5-7 times per week. (One of my highlights of my week!)
  • I’m launching the book club next week.
  • I consult one-on-one helping people design lives and businesses with intention via phone or Skype internationally.
  • I do travelling workshops helping people design lives and businesses with intention roughly every six weeks.

But there is another major aspect of my career I haven’t shared on the blog yet. I’m also the Creative Director for a small boutique Chicago hotel in Andersonville called The Guesthouse Hotel. I’ll be directing their re-branding and designing and decorating the interior of the hotel lobby this year as well.

This project is a massive undertaking in and of itself, and I’m also helping a client design and decorate their soon-to-be-built home.

I’ve been beyond excited about the opportunity to help brand and design a business space. The intersection of interiors and brands is a perfect fit for me and combines two of my favorite loves. Had Jess LC still been around, none of these design projects would have been feasible for me due to lack of time.

Anyways, my current project load is too much to undertake as a one woman show without working around the clock. Which is why I was feeling overwhelmed leading up to Alt.

As you might guess, this overwhelm led to the all too familiar Stress-Ball Jess from last year.

However, I had a “come to Jesus” talk with myself. I decided to stop the stress train and really look at the projects on my plate.

Now that I’m pretired I no longer do things in order to be as busy or profitable as I possibly can. Sure, I want to have abundance in my life. Heck, my family budget depends on it. But cash is not the trump card in my pretirement equation. Service is.

Once I realized that I could no longer accept that level of stress because I’d never behave that way if I was truly retired, I had to decide what I wanted to take off my plate in order to avoid burnout.

After a few moments of reflection I realized that I truly wanted to take nothing off my plate at the moment.

You see, I love what I do now!

I want to help clients and readers in these ways and I don’t want to have to put anything down. Will I most likely have to turn down future business in order to best serve these current projects? Perhaps. But I don’t want to limit my involvement in the projects I have now.

So then the solution became rather simple: figure out how to be less stressed with my current workload.

This led me to a pretty sane, but unanticipated conclusion: I needed to get help.

… Which leads me back to the 48 hours leading up to Alt. In those two days I hired not one, but two assistants.

Crazy town.

I had no idea when I pretired that I’d be taking on help. But the fact is that if I want to do the projects that excite me to the best of my ability without being Stress Ball Jess, I gotta get some helping hands.

Fortunately, the Universe was preparing me for this all along. The two women I hired are perfectly fit to help me in the areas where I need it most.

One assistant will be virtual. She will help me manage incoming emails, inquiries, workshop location research, and other things that can be done online.

The other assistant is based in Chicago and she is helping me on the design projects I have with the hotel, home, and any future design projects that come my way. Having someone to help me shop for items, gather inspiration, and give me a second opinion on my ideas will help my design projects flow much quicker and easier.

And while part of my brain thinks it’s insane to hire two people and not “lose” a ton of money, The 4-Hour Workweek is helping me to realize that’s not the case.

Sure, the virtual assistant position is going to cost me money on an hourly basis. But the amount of time that she’s going to save me will open up more availability to serve consulting clients and will free up more design time for my hotel and home projects.

Which means while this position will cost me money, I am opening up more time to serve others, increase my billable hours, and relax as well.

Meanwhile, the design assistant will be working roughly the same hours that I will be on the design projects. So I’ll be getting paid for the project and paying her rate out of my hourly rate.

Meaning the design assistant will “cost” me nothing except a portion of my design hourly rate. And again, by having her to help me with this project, I’m opening up more hours to do consulting (which has a higher hourly rate than the design rate) or simply relax in my pretirement!

This whole new understanding of pretirement and assistant help is mind blowing for me. It’s smashed so many assumptions that I held to for no reason. I cannot even begin to tell you.

But one thing I can say is that by forming a new paradigm about my projects, time, and paid assistants is leading to a whole lot of joy and peace.

Which is exactly what I’d like to experience in my pretirement.

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  1. Caitlin Brown

    This is SUCH amazing news, Jess! So many congratulations to you. I cannot wait to see these projects come to fruition! You deserve all of this success. So happy for you!

  2. Jess! So exciting!

    I’ve been thinking about an assistant in my communications business for awhile now. I’d love to learn more about your process for this. How did you start the hiring process? How did you know hiring an assistant was financially smart? How did you find these fantastic assistants, and what did the job descriptions look like?

    Perhaps for a blog post? Wednesday email?

    1. Jess Lively

      Sarah, I’m so excited for you! I actually found both ladies through a twist of fate. One had applied for a Jess LC internship last year and I just interviewed her now and she was a perfect fit for the design assistant. The virtual assistant happens to be a client of mine who is looking for part-time work doing just what I need her to do!

      If you’d like to talk more about your specific situation one-on-one we could definitely do an Off the Cuff consult if you like! The details are here: http://www.with-intention.com/business-with-intention/. Though it may definitely may become a WIKW topic in the future, right now I want to get more ground beneath us so I have more experience to draw from when I write the post.

      1. *Jess! Thanks for this great information. Fingers crossed that we can connect in an Off the Cuff session at some point this year! :)*
        *PS — Have you ever done in-person consulting instead of over Skype or the phone? I live in KC, but I’m from Chicago originally and find myself back there visiting family a few times a year.

        1. Jess Lively

          Sounds great! And yes, I definitely do in-person consulting when in Chicago. If you are or want to swing into town for a session I’d be happy to!

  3. Rachel

    So exciting!! I think this is so wonderful! Yay for your two new assistants and a good pretirement experience 🙂

  4. Kiriko

    Did you take that photo of the fortune cookie?! If so- wow.

    1. Jess Lively

      I know, right?! It was a dessert at Alt Summit. I thought the message was a great one for this post. ; )

  5. Hi Jess! I remember when you told me that I “didn’t need to do it all.” I thought I did. I don’t. I took your advice and posted a listing on The Everygirl. I hired 2 people and am looking for a third. I. could. not. be. happier. So, thanks for telling me then and reminding me again now with this post that help = happiness sometimes!

    1. Jess Lively

      That is so awesome! I’m so, so happy for you! It sounds like you are allowing your business to flourish, on your terms!

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