It’s no secret that I am facing career burn out lately. It isn’t something new to me – I’ve been feeling it in one form or another for years now, but what changed is that I ran out of patience. I also had a critical decision to make regarding my two income producing websites, Golem Technologies and Crossword Puzzle Maker. Neither of them was growing despite a lot of effort, and though Golem became consistently profitable this year, I don’t see it ever being able to replace my day job income for a variety of reasons. So I put both of them in maintenance mode. I support existing customers, I do bug and security fixes, but I stopped actively promoting them and developing them. Giving up a business you love is a painful but necessary decision sometimes.
Since then, I lost a bit of direction – without the hope of growing my business into a sustainable lifestyle, it is harder than ever to go to work every day. I stopped reading the business blogs I read and I can’t seem to re-invigorate my passion for programming. A couple blogs I did not stop reading, and which helped provide me direction were James Altucher (and his daily practice, which I try to do) and Steve Pavlina – even though the past few years I have not connected with his writing as much. Steve recently wrote that passive income won’t bring you freedom, a concept I wanted to ignore for a long time but it was timely since I recently came to the same conclusion independently. What traps me is not my work – it is the attachment to the lifestyle my work enables, and the attachments my family has built up, and my attachments to the ideals of supporting them in this lifestyle so they do not suffer.
In the end, I concluded that my current path was unsustainable. I am no longer sure I have the fire in me to start another business for a while. Instead, to begin reinvigorating my creative spirit, I decided that my main goal would be simple – to help people however I can. I had a crazy idea of being an IT career coach since I have tons of IT experience and have helped a few people (friends and strangers alike) get jobs in IT, so I posted a note on LinkedIn inviting people to let me coach them for free. I got a huge response and have spent the last week coaching several folks through the process of getting a job. This is rewarding, but already I know I won’t be doing it full time. I also had the opportunity to connect to a few very kind and helpful people. Two of which have offered web consulting opportunities which I am exploring.
So my current path is fluid, undefined. When it remains undefined, it remains free. I am not sure what I will discover or land on, but I feel it is a good choice for me. I am casting about seeing if I can connect with people who I can help with my unique set of technical and business skills. I want to help people with no expectation at all – nothing in it for me other than the satisfaction of knowing I am helping.
Everyone has so much to offer others, but sometimes we don’t even realize it. I spent so much effort trying to package my skills and knowledge into a saleable form I lost sight of the real goal of a business – to help people. My dissatisfaction with the daily grind corrupted my efforts, and made them less than they should be. Rather than building something to escape, I should build something to help. I truly feel that if I can do that successfully, then satisfaction and freedom will come as a natural side effect. When I spend my time actively helping people however I can, I believe that I will eventually hit on the true intersection between my abilities and people’s needs, and ignite true passion. Then, maybe, I will be ready to build my next business, or maybe just take a job for someone else doing that. I am not sure it would matter at that point because the objective would be helping people to the best of my ability. That might be by starting a business, but it might also be by working with someone else who already did.
So, as I reached out in LinkedIn, I am reaching out here. How can I help you or people you know? If you suspect I might be able to help with something, please reach out to me – there is nothing I would rather do than help you in this moment.