A Year After I Left My Full-time Job


A Year After I Left My Full-Time Job

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since I left my full-time job at Sony Pictures Entertainment. It is actually even more surreal as I am writing this post a month ahead of that anniversary. But since I’ll probably be off biking somewhere in Spain or France, I think it is a wise choice to compose this post at a time when I can sit and reflect on the past year without the distractions of my journey across Europe.

I am doing what I love: bike touring.

It is because of this love that I am able to travel with someone I met on a bike tour to Ojai immediately after I left my full-time job. Would I have the same opportunity if I was still working full-time? Maybe.

TCB Trip

Right Place At The Right Time

It would have been very difficult for me to take time off in the middle to the week to attend an overnight bike tour if I was still working for Sony Pictures. By being available and saying, “Yes” to all the opportunities that were presented to me, they have allowed me to cross path with Harry and his dream to ride across the world a piece at a time. Harry and I got along during our overnight trip to Ojai and we stayed in touch. While I was planning my Pacific Coast tour, he was also planning his own last year. He seeked my advice and help for his trip, since I went about a month before he did. Soon after he came home, we talked about his next journey, to ride across Europe from the Atlantic ocean to the Black Sea. I would not have thought this was going to be something I would even consider doing in my lifetime, but with Harry’s encouragement, here I am, starting my longest bicycle tour in my life.

In addition to this huge highlight for the coming year, I am a much happier person than I was about a year ago. I have time to self-reflect and do what I want to do. Right now, it’s diving deep into this world of bicycle tourism and running a blog. The first few months was the honeymoon phase where I was enjoying my new-found freedom. I did whatever I felt like doing. I went on bike rides, I slept in, I watched television, I hung out with friends, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time alone.

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Expenses, Expenses

The problem was I was bleeding money. $3,000+ went into housing every month! That’s the mortgage, insurance, HOA, and utilities. According to my calculations at the time, I could only sustain my burn rate until November before I had to start looking for another job. Initially, I was hesitant. I worked so hard to buy my first house and all the furniture. I also hated moving and was so stressed out with the whole process of selling my house, all my furniture, and the stuff… oh the stuff! Instead of dealing with it before I left for my Pacific Coast tour I decided to put it off until I made it back in August.

My trip down the Pacific Coast was the single most important event in my new bike touring life. I went from talking about it to doing it. That was a big step. I traveled over 2000 miles on my own battling through whatever obstacles that came our way. All the uncertainty and fears, we were able to face them head-on and made it through to the other side. Not only did we make it back, we made it back unscathed and changed forever. A peacefulness settled in me. For the first time in 2 years, I felt whole again. I shook off my depression haze and accepted life.

Motorcycle Sold

The Sell Off

When I got back home, I made the decision to put my first home up for sale. All this didn’t begin until September due to some miscommunication, but that was okay. It gave me time to clean, pack, and sell off all my stuff. My brand new bedroom set, my big screen LCD television, my living room set, my dining room set, and all the things that once made my house feel more like a home – SOLD!

When escrow finally closed in the middle of November, I had dialed down my belongings to a few boxes that were ready to be moved into storage and my new home. Having the final check in my hand was bittersweet. In one hand, I had bought more time to sustain this freedom and on the other hand, I was no longer a proud home owner.

It was the right thing to do.

Soon after that, I sold my beloved motorcycle. It didn’t make sense in my life to own a motorcycle. My goal was to minimize and own possessions which I value most. I sometimes lose sight of this when I look at the bright and shiny things in life, but I am much better than I was before. I am no longer looking to own and consume like I did before. First, I can’t afford to and secondly it didn’t make sense to own a motorcycle. I looked within myself and became more aware of my internal happiness. I became grateful for everything I have. I became more in tuned with my feelings and gravitated towards love thanks to the book, “The Mastery of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book has changed me deeply. It has changed the way I react and interact with everyone starting with myself. My relationships with my family and friends are much deeper than they have ever been.

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How am I financing everything?

Because I quit my job on my terms, I was not allowed to collect unemployment. Well, I’ve been able to do some contract work using my LCI certification, as well as work at SoCal Cross with Dorothy Wong. These opportunities help provide some spending cash and help ease the expenses that I accrue on a monthly basis. The sale of the home did help, but not as much as you might think as I did lose close to $20K from the price I purchased it for back in 2008. Life is much better without a mortgage. I’m floating by now with just a $1200 monthly expense. Most of my expenses come from dining out. That can be lowered, but I’m working on it. I am also aware of the fact that I want to live my life of value, so I’m not penny-pinching. I still want to enjoy life. Luckily, my savings have helped me considerably. My once “Wedding” savings soon became a huge part of my emergency funds. It is sad to think about it sometimes, but things happen for a reason, and I think my break-up with my fiancée has given me this great opportunity to rediscover myself and my passions.

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Adventures Continue

I was still able to go on adventures during this time. I finally attended my first Interbike and returned to the National Bicycle Tourism conference in San Diego. I also got to see true Fall foliage in New England. Another great trip where I spent time with really good friends and enjoyed a bike tour through Massachusetts and Rhode Island. If you told me all the places I’d get to see in a year when I left my full-time job, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I’ve also started a pretty positive MeetUp community in Los Angeles where I am bringing people from all walks of life together to go on bike tours. At the time of this post, we would have gone to at least 2 bike tours together. It is great to see this group continue to grow even though it seems like the same 5 people will probably be going more often than others. Running a group like this is also helping me grow in my interpersonal and organizational skills.

Forward Thinking

Creating these opportunities have been pivotal steps in continuing my forward motion and not losing focus in building a business some time in the near future. I have so many things I want to try and so many things I have to hold myself from going further into because I feel that I am getting to a point where my focus is scattered. Instead of jumping to 10 different things, I am going to pull the reigns back a bit and focus on producing valuable content for the blog before I continue to the next project.

I am seeing the residual impact on my decision to focus on writing. I am getting significantly more traffic, more encouraging messages that keep me fired up, and all the negative comments that push me further to improve. I used to not like negative feedback, but now can truly say I look forward to it. I would much prefer to have someone tell me what I’m doing wrong and offer me their opinions.

So with this in mind, what are some things that you want to see more out of me and this website? I really can’t continue to run this website without bringing value to your life. Is there something you want me to dive into deeper? What will get you out of your seat at work to swap it for a bicycle seat and ride on your milestone ride? Are there things that are unclear that you want me to speak of? Can I help you in any way? I would love to read and interact with you through all means possible: comments, emails, phone calls, Skype calls, Google hangouts, or anything that’s convenient for you. I want to inspire you by aspiring to do the things necessary to bring value in your lives. Help me help you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


About Johnny Lam

Johnny is an avid cyclist who enjoys bicycle touring as well as anything bicycle related. Johnny has traveled the entire Pacific Coast by bike from Vancouver to the border of California and Mexico. He's also toured through-out locations in Southern California. Johnny is also a League of American Bicyclists League Certified Instructor (LCI) and also completed the Adventure Cycling Association's Leadership Training Course (LTC). He is an active member in Los Angeles bicycling community being involved in organizations like the Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition (LACBC), C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange), and Bike San Gabriel Valley (Bike SGV) by taking part in ride marshaling, pedestrian & bike counts, and other volunteering opportunities.

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