The most common question, often the first question, I get asked when I tell people I live in a van is – How do you make money? I’m here to answer that for you.
I always felt like something was wrong with me… why couldn’t I pass my CPA exam? Why wasn’t my heart in it? I was good at my job, but my lack of motivation was beginning to show. It was a discouraging feeling. I spent $35,000 for the education behind this career and then a couple thousand more to take and fail the CPA exam over and over again. I started my career at a public accounting firm as an auditor. If you’re the slightest bit familiar with public accounting, then you know it’s pretty typical for them to give you two years to pass your CPA exam. You must work 60-70 hours a week and somehow find time to study about 30 hours a week. If you don’t pass, you’re almost worthless to them and they make you feel that way. My
public accounting experience was far from good. I lasted barely over a year before I dipped out and went into private accounting as an internal auditor. The biggest difference between public and private is that in public accounting, outside companies hire you, so you may audit several different companies. In private, you only audit the company you work for. And the work life balance is DRASTICALLY better. I was so burnt out, however, the work life balance and the fact they didn’t care if you were a CPA or not helped a lot. But something was still missing, I was questioning my entire career path.
Eventually, I spoke to my manager about my concerns. I told her I was unhappy and I felt like it was impacting my quality of work. We decided to explore different options – maybe I could shadow people in different departments to see if that peaked my interest. But before we got there… I stumbled upon vanlife. Really,it fell into my lap. And at first I brushed it off – oh, that’s cool but I could never do that. But vanlife wouldn’t leave my mind so I started to do more research. Eventually, I began to think that this could be the missing piece in my life that I’ve been looking for.
It made me confront what I’ve always been scared to admit about my career. I don’t care for it. I don’t care to become “successful” and move up in my career. I don’t want more responsibility. I’m ok with the low level entry position and just getting my work done and getting that paycheck. Even as I’m writing that now, my pride struggles to admit that. It comes off lazy, ungrateful, not hard working, etc. But what I realized is that my worth is not defined by my career. My joy does not come from how much money I’m making. My happiness is found living my life to the fullest because I have no idea when my life will end. And yes, money helps me do this, but being stuck in an office working my life away holds me back. I HAD to find a way to do both.
I began to have discussions with Kyle, the Sr. Internal Auditor on my team (this is the role in
between my manager and I). Kyle was just a year older than me and he completely understood where I was coming from. He had been at the company longer so I asked him if he thought our company would ever consider a remote role for our position. He admitted that it could easily be done, but he wasn’t sure if they would go for it. We strategized a game plan. He would warm my manager up to the idea and then I would come in with a working remote proposal to present to my manager.
I wrote up a 6-page proposal that detailed out everything I could think of about working remote. The most important thing that I stressed was how much I wanted to continue working for my company and why. Because here’s the thing – they don’t need me. I can be replaced. So, I had to show my value, and express why the company was valuable to me.
After presenting the proposal to my manager, she was on board!! The next step was convincing the CFO – who was known for not loving the policy already in place which allows everyone in the company to work from home 1 day a week. I was very nervous he would say no, and at this point the van was already purchased. Vanlife was happening with or without my job…
My manager called me into her office a few days later and told me HE SAID YES!!!!!!! I started sobbing instantly. My hard work paid off. We agreed to a “trial period” for the first year. I set off in the van June 2019 and we agreed to reevaluate December 2019 during my year end review. I worked so hard to meet all of my due dates for my audits and stay in constant communication. At the end of the year my manager not only agreed that it was working, but she said the quality of my work had never been better. She could tell I was happy, and it was reflecting in my work. For the first time in my career, I was proud of what I had accomplished. I followed my heart and it showed!
I have had several people in the corporate world ask me about my proposal that I presented to my boss. I’ve met with a few people to help them create their very own proposal and I wanted to widen my reach and help as many people chase after their dreams and hold on to their corporate job as well! I’ve created a proposal template to help you design your very own working remote proposal to present to your company. I’ve also included the exact proposal I presented for you to use as a reference.
And once you get that YES I want to hear all about it!!! Good luck friends, get out there and follow your heart!!