Time is relative. Last week I realized that I’ve been freelancing for as long as I was at my previous job or exactly half the time I’ve been in Montréal and let me tell you, the second part went wayyyy faster. I worked at Sungard for 43 months and I’ve been working independently for 45 months (I thought it was 44-44 but I just reviewed) but those 45 months flew buy, it’s hard to believe that some contracts I still remember clearly were done 3 years ago.
One thing that isn’t relative though is the time it takes me to start chomping at the bit for a change. Since 89 (first fulltime job not limited to a summer vacation) I worked for 4 years (including a bit of not working) in hobbies and then “renting” computer games, I’ll count those two as one. Then roughly 4 years in two computer stores (retail) then 3 years selling computers to corporate accounts and universities. Moved to Montréal and worked just over 3.5 years in one job and now when I get back from SXSW mid march I’ll have been on my own for close to 4 years.
See a pattern here? That’s right, I change jobs when there are elections! No, seriously, I seem to have gone “around” most jobs in that time and move on to something else, that would explain why I’ve been pondering a bunch of things in recent months, I’m due for a change. By the way, those cycles of learning and getting to “been there done that” affect what I do a lot more than the supposed life stages like “oh man I’m 25” or “I have to make a change, I’m 30”.
What’s different this time is that I’m not hitching to get away, I’m very happy with the “web worker” life style, still passionate about the field I’m in and still enjoying most of the work I do. I just seem to have reached a point professionally and “mentally” where I need to add or change something. But what?
If you were expecting some big revelation of the “I’m quitting this and buying a Llama farm” kind, sorry to disappoint, this is a taking stock and writing it down kind of post, I don’t know yet what I’m going to change or add. A few directions I’m seeing;
- I’ve already done a bit and will do more of taking on larger projects where I need to recruit some helpers, “aggregating” a team when needed. (the big problem here is in finding those people)
- Related but different; a year ago I would have dismissed the idea in a second but now I’m starting to put pressure on a couple of buddies of mine to join me in this contracting thing. I’m not sure within what kind of structure but I’m seeing openings in projects where having someone who knows more about programming would make a huge difference, not only in doing the jobs but in getting them by offering a more rounded, permanent package. I still don’t want to hire people and start a “real” company but something a bit further along in that direction might be in the cards.
- When the year started I made a couple of adjustments in my approach to things in general and so far so good. Now I have to bring that further and make myself execute better, I’ve got tens of ideas, big and small but the only things that progress are the ones with outside pressure. I have no problem delivering on client projects but spin my wheels on my own things and except for creating my own job—which, granted, isn’t nothing— I’ve fumbled my other ideas. For that one I keep thinking of a dream I have in common with Hugh but I also keep thinking about not making Boris wretch. (Item 2 would also help there) Making that work would certainly bring about changes of the “new cycle” kind.
- Even though I end up procrastinating (see 3) too much and it could still crumble, I’m excited about the coworking project and the community aspects that it will provide / foster.
So yeah, new cycle starting, now I have to figure out what it is.