At the end of 2008, after nearly 13 years my career hit a wall. Actually it happened long before then (~2001), but I wasn't aware of the problem. My heart was never in it, and without passion for my work I grew to loathe going in each day. I pretended to be an engineer for over a decade and finally took a leave of absence to get my bearings. Don't get me wrong, there were fantastic and fun challenges in my job, and I was pretty good at it, but there was always something missing. As much as I wanted my work life to change drastically, there was no clear path forward, and for a time I was lost.
Welcome to the Real
Fast forward 17 months to the present. I'm working 30 hours per week at my old job but it's a different and more pleasant role. My perception has changed dramatically about my day job. It fuels my true passion: pulling together a startup, blogging, and integrating the social web into both. It's a bit of a psychological hack, but I view my time as a company resource of which X hours per week goes to keeping the lights on. I'm making the move from a local career & financial optimal to a life where my decisions have a much greater impact on my happiness and success. The challenge of matching technology to the surface of need and growing it into a business is enormous and addictively fun. Connecting with other people that are doing the same is also deeply satisfying.
Big Life Changes by Small Iterations
Besides taking a leave of absence in 2008 which was a big and necessary gear shift, all the changes that lead to my current life path were small adaptions and habit formations. Without a work compass I spent a number of weeks reviewing franchises and other small business opportunites because I knew I wanted to have greater control and responsibility about any work I chose to do. I was ready to mortgage my home and dip into my 401k to buy an existing business, but there was a serious mismatch between buying a business and building a business. All the creative problem solving is refined out of franchises, so that execution and "ownership" is more like a management position (and it pays like one too).
I began blogging in February 2009 after writing 40 squidoo lenses, many far from monetizable in topic. Here's my first lens, the profit prophet. It wasn't long before I realized the value of pooling together my web ramblings under my own URL, this blog.
It should have clicked much earlier but after several months enjoying Fred Wilson's tech/venture business riffs, I realized that a startup wasn't beyond my reach. It took 4 months of struggling with php* and looking around before I bumped into Tyler Gillies^ on Google wave. With a potent web tech ally, Victus Media was forged. Now we're chasing the pattern that best represents one's digital ghost.
*= I never did any web programming before late last year. Now at least I'm pretty familiar with a bunch, but there's always more to learn.
^=Tyler's got a hundred URL identities online, none of which capture his identity well so he's a perfect tester for Victus Media's people browser/reader