A bit of background
So last year, September 9th, 2015, I resigned from my first and last full-time job as a software developer, one month later on Friday, October 9th, 2015 was my last day of full-time employment and on the following day October 10th, 2015, I began the rest of my life.
Why did I leave?
Well, I wrote about it extensively over here, if you are interested to read.
But to sum it up:
- I honestly felt like I had a lot more to give to the world and even more to give of myself.
- I really wasn’t enjoying what I was doing…at all.
- It actually got to the point where for the sake of my mental and physical health, I just had to leave. I kid you not, working was literally making me sick. In the two months leading up to my departure, I took about a week’s worth of sick leave in total (and yes, I was really sick).
- Career-wise, I really just wanted to focus on my own business ambitions, at the time I was juggling my full-time job with two personal projects that were not getting the attention they deserved from me.
8 Months later
So here we are, 8 months later and I think this is the part where I am supposed to boast about my new fancy lavish entrepreneur lifestyle… :
Well unfortunately, contrary to popular belief I’m not writing this post from the beaches of Hawaii, I’m not currently on the Forbes billionaires list, I have not massively disrupted any industry through the use of innovative software/technology and my unicorn startup has not exited through a massive record-breaking M&A (not yet at least). I do not play golf during the week (or on the weekend for that matter), I don’t take helicopter rides for spontaneous lunch dates and I don’t wipe my ass with 24 carat gold plated tissue paper (I’m also not sure how practical that is).
What do the people say
I have talked to a few people who think I’m some sort of cult hero for abandoning ‘the system’, starting my own company, leaving my full-time job and venturing out into the cruel world on my own.
No, I’m no hero (and just for the record, I’m also not alone in this hustle #shoutOutToMyCoFounders), I’m just a man trying to make sense of the world. On the other side of the coin, some people probably think I’m crazy or in a transitional ‘phase’ of some sort. Well, it’s definitely not a phase, I’ve had my taste of employment and I’m not going back. To be really honest – amongst many other reasons of course – I’m actually just a bad employee, so my decision of employment-abstinence is really for the benefit of humanity as a whole.
NB: Also as a side note, to my many developer friends and random LinkedIn recruiters, please stop offering me full-time jobs at your companies or elsewhere, I understand that a recruitment bonus might be hanging in the balance, but you gotta respect my hustle. If it’s a contracting gig, then we can gladly talk business, otherwise, honestly I’m really not that interested.
What it has been like so far
The truth is, as much as there in an additional element of freedom that comes with starting a business and running your life on your own terms, there are a lot of downfalls, risks, and sacrifices that are also part of the over-glorified package.
Bare with me as I outline them below:
Money, cash flow, cheddar cheese, The Benjamins etc.
I received my last full Salary 8 months ago, I think my bank account is still trying to understand why there was a sudden change in income. Obviously, the biggest hit you will take when you ditch full-time employment is your income and you need to be ready for this. A change in income means a change in lifestyle, and because of this I have had to hold back on a lot of things and be a lot more frugal. It’s not easy when you have to turn down invites because you would rather use that money to pay rent and buy groceries than spend it on having fun with your friends, but hey, sacrifices must be made.
I often fantasize about the times when I used to be able to keep aside money that I wasn’t using (I think people call it “savings/investments”, or something along those lines ), well now that is seen as a luxury because everything I currently make either goes into keeping me alive (the first two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy) or keeping my business alive – yes it’s tough, but one has to have priorities. People use their money to make investments in stocks/unit trusts/funds/companies/RA’s, so I would consider this investing in myself, I am a 100% shareholder of my life after all.
The downfall of this is that when shit does hit the fan I won’t have something to fall back on, but this is why we unashamedly use credit cards, arguably the best invention since sliced bread, up until you have to pay interest of course – and I’ve never had to pay interest on my sliced bread :/.
Also, if there are any bus drivers planning on driving into me, please keep in mind that as I am currently without medical aid, the subsequent hospital trip might get slightly awkward. I’ll be back on in a few months I promise, so try to be a bit more cautious up till then. I’ve had to prioritize my expenses and my previous Medical aid was really eating into my wallet (yes I know I’m being ‘reckless’ and you are more than welcome to contribute if you really want to).
I’ll say this again – sacrifices must be made.
Time, time time. Time is money and money is time.
On my client work I currently bill per hour so every hour means a certain amount of income. This means I need to be a lot more cognizant of my time usage and it also means that frankly, I just don’t have much time to “waste”. Making the move from being paid per month to being paid per hour certainly gives you a whole new perspective on working and productivity. One of the benefits of the hourly approach is that I don’t have to sit in-front of a computer double-clicking from 09:00 to 17:00 every day and pretend that I am hard at work just to make the boss happy. Right now, me wasting time on one side, means me losing money on the other side, every single thing has an opportunity cost.
The friends that I somehow still have active in my life are truly great friends indeed because they have to deal with not seeing or hearing from me and my hermit self for long periods of time.
My weekdays are busy, my weekends are busy, my mornings are busy, my afternoons are busy and my nights are busy. The luxury of having a full-time job is that your weekends can actually be weekends, most of my weekends are spent in meetings or hacking away at a keyboard. Actually, for the first few months after resigning, I wouldn’t even know what day it was, every day was just “today”. Weekday, weekend, holiday, it really made no difference whatsoever.
This journey is not for the feint hearted, I have long accepted the fact that I am (relatively) slightly delusional and I think you really have to be when you are on this path.
You really need to persevere regardless of the current circumstances and you have to have a deeply rooted belief (not just faith, but a firm undoubtful belief) that things are working out. If you spend your time worrying about where your next paycheck will come from or how you will pay for groceries in a few months time, then you won’t get far. You know when you are on the right path, because you can feel it with every single decision you make. In order to keep going in the right direction on this journey, you need to take the path of least resistance. The sickness and unhappiness that I described earlier was definitely caused by the immense resistance to the path that I was on at the time.
Meditation, running and yoga really help in this sense because it allows me to take my mind away from the trivial concerns of this world and its systems. I mean in the bigger scheme of things, money is the least of my concerns, what I am really focused on is doing something meaningful, the money will come – it has no choice. It’s really just a byproduct, a material symbol of power that we choose to associate with our success and self-worth.
One of the biggest downfalls of not being in an office surrounded by people is that you lose a lot of the social learning benefits. In my previous job I learnt more from just being around people than from the actual work I was doing.
So the first few months after I left that job, while I was working on what I wanted to work on, my life was basically just me alone in my apartment all day, every day, staring at my computer. Only focusing on what I wanted to focus on, writing code and implementing frameworks according to my own standards, knowledge and past experience.
From one perspective, this was great because no one was disrupting me when I was in the zone (or annoyingly shoulder surfing me), but the downside is that I was not continuously feeding off of the people around me, which happens a lot when you are surrounded by a group of other human beings. Thankfully this has changed over recent months because of the consulting projects that I have been contracted on, I’ve had the benefit of working with both, developers and non-developers with vastly different areas of expertise to mine.I am also currently based in a co-working office space right now, so I am encouraged to get out of my dark hermit hole a lot more. The sunrays did burn my skin a bit in the beginning, but I have since been successfully rehabilitated back into society.
So this serves as my update to my initial post about quitting my job. So if you are considering taking the leap, go ahead, just make sure that at the very least you know why you are doing it – don’t worry too much about the details of how things will work out afterwards, if you are on the right path – the puzzle pieces will come together – they have to.
The problem with spending time thinking, plotting and planning your future is that you are limited to your knowledge/beliefs/opinions/past experience. When you decide to just let go, is when the true magic takes place, you don’t even need to know exactly what you want – you just need to be aligned with who you really are.
“I came to you humbly, not to tell you what to do on your journey, but to share with you what I have learned on mine”