Exactly 7 years ago today, I wrote my first blog post titled Why online identities are smart career moves. That's a pretty self-explanatory title and I wrote it while gainfully employed in a job I'd been in for 8 years at the time, but it's worth a quick read as it sets the scene for this post. I may have had a steady job, but I knew I wouldn't always be there...
I won't go into all the background here, if you want the details of what led to my eventual departure from big corporate then have a read of How I optimised my life to make my job redundant. What I thought I'd do here instead is talk just a little bit about how much life has changed. In part this is because reflection is important; sometimes we forge ahead so quickly, we forget where we've come from. But I also wanted to prompt other people who may be where I was 7 years ago to think about what they can do today so that they might have some of the same choices in the future.
When you're reading this, keep in mind that all of this started from that first blog post. That was the initial foray into a public profile, into independence and ultimately into an entirely different way of life for both myself and my family. A massive journey that started with one little blog post. Read on.
I used to commute through traffic every day
Now I sometimes just jet ski to somewhere peaceful and work there on my own terms.
I needed to be "visible" by being in the office, because apparently that's important
Now I'm more accessible to more people than I ever could have imagined, communicating with dozens or even hundreds of others every day, even if just within 140 chars.
My success was measured by annual performance reviews performed by a single person
Now I know I've done good work when tens or hundreds of thousands of people a day read what I write or use what I build.
My pay was assessed against industry benchmarks within organisational constraints and indexed against the profitability of a company making erection drugs
Now I'm paid based on what people think I'm worth. There are no brackets, no caps and nothing to index against, the only constraint is how valuable I can make the things I do.
Expenses were scrutinised and purchases had to be carefully explained and justified
Now I spend money on things that make sense. If it helps me become more productive and better at what I do and there's an obvious ROI, I just buy it. Fast PC, good software, smart services; if it helps me be successful, I don't need to justify it to anyone but myself.
Budgets were meant to be exhausted before the end of the year so they wouldn't be cut in the next year
Now if I spend less money than I planned, I'm happy :)
"Career progression" meant I had to do less of what I really loved
I've thrown out the traditional career metrics I don't care about. Seniority? Who cares. Corner office? I live on a beach. Undercover car space on site? I park the jet ski under the house. But more importantly, I no longer do performance reviews or fill out forms or deal with people I don't want to, I'm actually doing what I love which is working with technology rather than just talking about it.
I went to lots of meetings where people politely agreed with me
Now I'm always interacting with smart people and they tell me how I can be better. They understand what I do. Some of them call me a dickhead because they can - HR isn't going to pull them up!
I used to look at what I'd achieved for the day and it would be emails, phone calls and various activities that helped other people deliver
Now I create things that people actually use whether that be Have I been pwned, Pluralsight courses, blog posts or face to face training. I'm producing really useful stuff and that feels awesome.
I worked in a windowless office in the middle of a building because my seniority didn't grant me natural light
Now I'm writing this next to my pool because independence has granted me the ability to choose where I work.
I'd use my annual leave to attend conferences
Now there's no more annual leave, instead I take time out when I want to and it may not be as much time as I should take out, but I get to decide, not someone else.
The job dictated when I saw my family
Now I choose - with them - how and when I spend time with them. I can take the kids to school and pick them up whenever I want. I can play tennis with my son before school. I can go to the beach with my daughter in the middle of the day. It's entirely my decision.
I longed for much, much more than I had
For the last year, life has finally been where I've wanted it to be since, well, a lot longer than 7 years. This post is not intended to be a self-ingratiating ego booster, rather a moment of reflection that where I am now began with that one blog post 7 years ago. I didn't know how it would go and I had many reasons not to do it, including our first child being born just a couple of weeks later. But I did it and I took years to find my "fit" and then years again to make it genuinely successful.
If any of this resonates with you, get started on whatever your "small step" is and you might find it eventually leads to truly awesome things.