Today I ‘finished’ up at my day job. Why the quotation marks? We’ll get to that. But first, a little context, as this is a day I have been working toward for five years.
I have always been a restless employee. Despite working in great environments and on cool projects, I was constantly chasing the technology dragon. I always had a side-project or two on the go outside of work.
Often I had lofty ambitions for these side-projects; I wanted to create a business. My business. Something I could control and direct, something that would allow me to find a greater purpose.
When pursuing a startup or business, thoughts of fortune, fame or freedom are often lurking in the back of one’s head. During each side-project I would think, ‘This is the one, this is how I will catch that elusive break’. But it never happened - all I appeared to do was notch up an impressive collection of failures and setbacks.
It wasn’t till a couple of years ago that I realised that each new opportunity I picked up was a direct result of a quirky side-project. Irrespective of how I felt I had failed, I would land a new gig and get to work with new technologies alongside even more skilled people. But I was still chasing the technology dragon. It wasn’t enough. There was always ‘the next tech’ to use and another bunch of talented people I could be learning from.
I wasn’t notching up failures. I was slowly ‘grinding’ and levelling up on a strange massively multiplayer online game called professional software development.
With this epiphany, I decided to dig deeper into my own startup dreams. Was having my own business what I wanted? As it turns out, no. I was after the freedom to create.
I hinted a year ago, I have an interest in exploring monastic engineering experiences. I want to bang away on my keyboard and create, just for fun, without any distractions. Not to create a business, not to make products that people want, not to discover something new, not to publish a paper. But to indulgently explore oddities that perhaps only I find interesting.
So I have set myself a goal to build one project a month for twelve months. The only rule? I must be able to build it in a month. If I manage to build twelve projects, only to have someone ask, ‘Clinton why on earth did you … ?’ and my only answer is, ‘Because I could’, I will have achieved what I set out to do.
Armed with my insight and plan, I went to my boss to try and resign. When he heard what I was doing, he looked me in the eye and offered me a job. “Will you stay on and work casual for me?” My boss made it sound like I was doing him a favour, but it was the other way round. He was offering a safety net to work as much or as little as I needed - why? Because he is a bloody good boss, and was starting me on my journey. He was removing a distraction, the fear of losing a somewhat valuable career.
Phew. It has been a ton of work to get here. To get to the beginning; a long summer break before starting my project-a-month pursuit of programming nirvana in the new year. I have no idea what will unfold, but it is going to be fun finding out.
To everyone who helped get me here. Thank you.
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