One day I woke up to a "Strategic Business Announcement" email. Laden with phrases like "strategic shift in our business", "near-term growth drivers" and "sharpening our focus", the email was announcing that a huge company project I was involved with was killed leading to a 6% reduction in force because it didn't meet shareholder expectations. The huge effort by many people in our company simply didn't mean anything anymore.
It was all for nothing.
This project required me and others to work 70+ hour weeks for over a month.
It was the kind of high-pressure project that warranted a "Are you done yet?" inquiry from the boss seemingly every hour.
It was the kind of project that forced me to cancel my vacation time and it was the project that hammered in the final nail in the coffin of my hopes of ever clinging onto full-time employment.
This email represented everything that I stand against. It represented how fickle corporations can be and how much Wall Street (for public companies) can control companies for profit.
It represented how insecure full-time employment can be for that 6% of people that were let go and solidified my beliefs that no job is truly secure. It reminded me that my work doesn't mean shit and can be voided at any time. Luckily though, it cleared a foggy vision where I once thought I might be able to be happy in a full-time job.
I don't blame anyone in the company. I truly believe our CEO and executive team had good intentions but it's just the cold nature of business.
Your company either meets expectations and hits financial goals or it doesn't. You're revered one minute and the next you're dropped. If the company's initiatives aren't generating enough profits, it's doomed. If you're part of that company, your fate is tied directly to the company.
What could a lowly engineer like me do in the midst of this? Simple. Quit.
I quit $150K/year salary, bonus, stocks and the kind of insurance that made every medical provider I speak to mention how lucky I am to have such great coverage.
I had a job that allowed me to work on what I enjoy, to work from home 100% of the time, allowed me to modify my schedule to not work on Fridays and gave me as much freedom as a person with a job can have. I can't complain but I was never truly happy.
People talk about golden handcuffs. I was a hamster in a cage with cash for a bed, bars made of platinum and a diamond-studded wheel for running with Fort Knox sitting on the gate in case I got any bright ideas of escaping.
I had it great financially but I was still in the cage. If my owner decided I was getting too old, he still had the power to put me down.
You see, I've always been entrepreneurial to some degree. I've had a side business for over a decade. I've absolutely loved working for myself and running my own business reveling in the freedom it provides but I've never taken it seriously. My side business has always been that, just a "side" business.
Even though I'm currently generating close to what my full-time position paid, have great clients and lots of opportunities ahead it still scares the hell out of me. It's scary but has no logic. It's 100% emotional.
I once felt like I was sitting in a deck chair sipping Mai Tais on a cruise ship but now I've taken a leap off the bow and am now in a dingy floating aimlessly in an open ocean. My left brain can see that tropical island off in the distance and know it's possible to get there but my right brain is screaming "What if" scenarios.
I'm here in this dingy now which luckily has a paddle and have started paddling my ass off headed for that island. Here's hoping I don't die of dehydration or starvation before I get there. Wish me luck!
So, what does this mean? This means I now have 100% of my time to focus on my business. I have 100% of my time to focus on providing training to more IT professionals and developers, providing content marketing services to clients and to contributing to community projects.
I finally have time to pursue my dreams of self-employment, getting direct rewards from my work instead of scraps from a company and to feel so much more fulfillment working on a project I want to vs one that my boss told me to!
Here's to the journey ahead.