I’ve mentioned before on my blog that I have an annual tradition of using my birthday as the focal point for setting and reaching yearly goals. Each birthday I spend significant time by myself, reviewing what I wrote and planned the previous birthday, assessing it against my progress, and setting new goals for the year ahead. It’s sort of my own personal State of the Union. Throughout the year, I have regular checkins and adjustments to make sure I’m on target and to allow for agility with my goals.
I’ve been doing this for the majority of my adult life now, and its quite interesting to me that as time went on, even events that were out of my control seemed to start aligning with this time of the year for me. It’s amazing how many major events in my life has occurred within a week on either side of my birthday. I don’t think its a coincidence. Focusing on the goals and having a clear understanding of them, have to be the two biggest determining factors in reaching them. For me, the traditional New Year’s occasion of setting resolutions mean nothing because its based on some arbitrary changing of a calendar. Centering it on my birthday has made it more meaningful; more real, and I believe has made more of an inner impact on me that ultimately has helped me reach my goals. I’ve used my birthdays to achieve massive weight loss, change jobs, buy my first home, test for my black belt, buy and learn to shoot my first gun, buy and learn to ride a motorcycle, and so many other smaller goals. Even last year’s Rumble turned out to complete the week of my birthday and last year, one week before, I found out that my Martial Arts teacher of 16 years was retiring and I would no longer be training with him or attending his weekly classes.
My birthday has also been the one time I lost a job. It was a layoff of sorts; really just a contract not being renewed due to a new policy to phase out contractors, but it knocked the wind out of me. It was the first time I’d experienced that even when you’ve proven yourself invaluable as an employee, you can still lose your job, because ultimately its out of your hands, That was six years ago, and it set in motion a completely new way of thinking about my career and my direction. I made a lot of minor changes particularly on what I studied and how I used my spare time to advance my career and my personal branding. I recognized that my strengths and passions were in building products and services and not code, and began altering my entire focus.
Now, six years later, I find myself in a similarly significant job change. For the last 2.5 years I’ve worked for IMM on the Miley Cyrus web sites. It’s been great working with a small intimate team, using Rails and working in the entertainment industry instead of B2C for only the second time since I began my career. But as Miley’s career changed, so did the fans, and I could see the writing on the wall that one day soon there would no longer be the money there to keep these sites running. Rather than to wait for that, I decided to be proactive. I was routinely turning down Rails projects due to my full time job and decided to transition from full time employee to working full time with my company Agile Nomads, providing Ruby on Rails and front end development services. It’s a risk for sure, and its both frightening and exciting. I’m already more than fully booked in September and 80% booked for October and will be working with some great clients to produce some awesome products.
I don’t know how long I’ll stay in this situation; we’ll see how it goes. I’m committed to building great products using Internet technologies and Ruby on Rails and assisting businesses with their product development goals, and for now I’ll do that as a freelance developer through Agile Nomads, and address each opportunity individually as it arises.
I plan to continue working to build PeepNote, and at this year’s Rails Rumble, will be working with a team full of great guys to launch a brand new startup that truly comes from my heart and connects with my highest passions.
But this massive change in my career isn’t the only change in my life. After 25 years of attending the same church, where my dad has served as Pastor, the church was unable to continue and closed just two months ago. Now the search is on for a new home church. I’ve never not attended the same church with my parents and sister. Change indeed.
On the heels of the church closing, and the decision (made a few months ago) to transition into working for myself full time, my family has decided to make another life altering change. It’s something we’ve talked about for years and years, sort of a bucket list dream, but with all that’s going on, we finally felt it was the right time; it was now or never; it was time to do it, or scratch it off the list forever. Looking over my list of what I wanted to accomplish by middle age, it is only 1 of 2 items left on the list. And so, we began our plans to sell or give away at least 50% of all we own, sell our home and move the entire family into an RV…full time. We love to travel and we firmly believe in giving our kids as many varying experiences as possible. As well, I want to be able to move around the country, working with startups and meeting like minded people in the startup community. We also want to ensure that each of us learns to live with less. It’s not that I’m against having material possessions, but if you aren’t careful they can own you. And we feel like we were on the brink of that, and were ready to take drastic measures to prevent it. It will also help accomplish my 2nd remaining middle age goal…having no debt except a home mortgage (RV in our case). It won’t be a short or quick journey. We have to prepare the house to put it on the market and then who knows how long it will take to sell. In the mean time, we are spending most our time selling things on craigslist or ebay, driving car loads to Salvation Army, and hauling some completely worthless junk to the curb. The adventure has already begun, and no matter how long it takes us to get there…we will.
And next birthday, hopefully I’ll be crossing that goal off, from my office in our fifth-wheel home, in some beautiful new part of the country…maybe next to the Chena River in Alaska, or a quiet harbor in Maine. I’ve been quite blessed to have been able to complete so many of my goals by this young an age, and though there aren’t many left on the list (created when I was in high school), I have no doubt as I move into this new segment of my life, that with new experiences and opportunities, new dreams will arise. I urge you to spend time setting your goals and being clear with yourself on what they are and what your passions are. I encourage you to stay focused on them and I truly hope you get to experience that wonderful sense of accomplishment by achieving them.