I was recently asked what motivated me to keep working and freelance.
There was a time, about a year ago now, that I worked 40 hours a week at my full time job and 30 hours a week freelancing. Add to that the fact that we own one car and my wife finished 1 – 1.5 hours after me and my day was really long. I’d leave at 7am to get to work and sometimes not get home till 6:30 – 7pm. I’d work for my clients over my lunch hour at work and while I waited for my wife to finish work but I’d still have to work once I helped with dinner. That meant I’d work till 10pm or so every evening and be back up at 5:30am for the next day. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll also be very familiar with the fact that I kayak 100 days a year and go out on my bicycle a few days a week.
I also worked all day Saturday and a good portion of the day Sunday. Yeah that’s a lot of work and a hectic schedule with not a lot of fun in the mix. So what kept me motivated?
I’ve always wanted to be a dad and my wife and I were starting to seriously talk about having kids (we did and she’s awesome). I love my dad but he worked for IBM when I was young and flew all over the world. I do tend to be a workaholic but I really didn’t want to miss out on my kid’s life. Even if I didn’t have to wait for my wife after work I’d be out the door at 7am and back home at 5pm, that’s a lot of the day to miss, and a lot of firsts you’re going to miss. I’ve said that at my funeral I’ve wanted people to say that I was a good dad and husband, who care what I did at work family is what matters. So I motivated myself to achieve what I wanted.
A second motivating item was the fact that I don’t do great in a traditional office environment. I do fine in places that are truly built on trust but the fact is that most businesses pay lip service to trust and really treat you like you’re 13 and need to be watched all the time. I’ve always figured that I was hired to do a job. If you need to police me to make sure I get the job done, you hired the wrong guy so go get someone that you don’t need to watch. Unfortunately as I said above while many places say they trust you, the reality is they trust you only as far as they can throw you. The lack of trust to do my job right, and the policing that came along with that lack of trust was another huge motivator.
I suppose now I should be saying that money was a big motivator? Nope it wasn’t. I make a bit more than I did but as long as I can pay the bills I’m a happy camper so if I was making less and paying the bills I’d be fine with my move to running my own business. Don’t get me wrong, I like having money like the next guy I just don’t place my happiness on the size of my bank account.
For me the motivation came down to living the lifestyle that I wanted. I want to be able to check out in the middle of the day to get a kayak session in, I don’t want to have to beg it out of a boss, I know how much I have to do and how I can make up the time. I wanted to be able to head to the park with my kids in the week. I wanted to be trusted and only work with people that treat me like that.
Honestly I miss working in a team a bit. I’d look at taking a remote working position, or a position that I only had to drop by the office on Mondays for the weekly meeting (or pick your day), then I could work from where I wanted the rest of the week. The type of office I’d love to work for is easily understood if you read Rework (amazon link).
Photo by suckamc.