The first time I ever talked to Peter was on the phone. He was interviewing me to work on a project already in development. I generally like interviews. It’s a chance to meet a new person, learn about what they do and show them what you’ve done. I was happy after talking to Peter. Not only because I was going to work with him, but from my answer to one of his first questions: “If you could do anything in life what would it be?”. I answered immediately: “I’m doing it”. Peter repeated my answer out loud. He was trying to come up with another question that would encourage me to be more descriptive. As we continued to talk, I realized Peter wasn’t only interested in my professional abilities, but was genuinely interested in my hopes and dreams.
In the Beginning…
Growing up I loved computers, learning new things, being outdoors and sports (like skiing, Mt. biking, and surfing). My love of computers turned into a love of software engineering and I wanted a life where I could progress as a engineer while working on fun projects with fun people, be heavily involved in my sports and learn new things.
After graduating from college I had some great jobs that helped progress my engineering skills, but the rest of my life was almost non-existent. I mostly just commuted to work and returned home very tired. Much of my time was spent doing work or recuperating from work, everything else was secondary. My life seemed horribly inefficient. I would go to work and work no matter what. Whether tired, stressed or burnt out – work, work, work. I despised this way of life, but it felt normal and maybe even respected. I began to get burnt out on life and software started to be a burden. So I decided to try something new.
Making the Change: Freelance
I moved from the bay area to Oregon with the plan of being a consultant. I did it without much research or thought of where I would find work. I was ready to make software a hobby if it didn’t work out. Being a flash/flex developer I immediately found that it was the right time to become a consultant. I have not yet gone looking for work and have been able to find great jobs from the contacts and friends I made while living in the bay area the last three years.
My life is very different now. I don’t commute (or drive anywhere) and I schedule 100% of my time. When it’s a nice day I can take a few hours and go for a bike ride or rock climbing. I can ski on the less crowded weekdays. I’ve started guitar lessons and took a marine biology class in Baja. I find that when I work, I am more focused and get much more done. And I love to work. I have to pull myself away from work to do other things, then pull myself away from other things to do work.
Living the Dream
When I told Peter I was living the life I dreamed, a chill ran down my spine. I still wasn’t sure if I would make enough money, find insurance or even how to make a proper invoice. Do I register a business name? Will I be able to communicate effectively remotely? Although these questions were stressful, I found the stress was insignificant compared to the excitement. I am having fun. Many things are new and unknown, but everything I am doing is in pursuit of a better lifestyle. Now that I’ve found a better lifestyle, my dreams have not stopped. They keep me going and doing new things. Here are few of them:
- Get Masters degree
- Learn guitar
- Complete Spice (personal software project)
- Win a XC bike race at expert level
- Climb Mt. Shasta in 4 hours
- Publish article
- Write a book
- Travel South America for 4 months (include lots of surfing)
- Climb a 5.13
- Surf all over the world
- Multi day big wall rock climbing trip
- Learn a new language
Franky, if you have already made the leap, you know what I mean. For all of you with your toes on the precipice, peering hesitantly over the edge. Jump. It’s scary. It can be tough. But it is so worth it.