Travel When You’re Young

Travel when youre young

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What’s important in your life changes. It will flip flop often. You will seek spirituality and self-existence and then something happens and you need more money. You will focus on your education and career and then someone you know leaves this planet too early and you re-evaluate your priorities. We get caught up in our daily lives, because we have to and then in a glimpse, we have a moment of clarity. It might be in a grocery line, taking your kid to school or driving to work. You take note, remind yourself you need to get out more, get outside, but then you quickly snap back into what you were doing. The good thing is that nag, never really goes away. It gets built on, thought about and organized. Your hope is that you will someday pull that trigger and do what you want to do, before it’s too late.

Continue reading “Travel When You’re Young”

Getting over the rock

I’m in the business of solving problems so I tend to pull lessons from other areas of my life. It gives me a chance to have a different perspective on an issue that I wouldn’t of had just sitting at my desk. I’ve been Mountain Biking for about 20 years. I don’t race, but I enjoy getting outside and riding. When I purchased a home, I made sure there were mountain bike trails nearby. About twice a week I ride from my house up to a nature reserve. It’s 13.5 miles roundtrip, takes about an hour and a half and has one section that’s impossible to ride through. For 10 years I couldn’t get through it and then one day, I made it.

The first part of the ride is on a flat country road. It’s a scenic ride with views of lush green hills in the distance. As I get closer, the road turns into a series of “whoopty do’s,” that go up and down as I ascend up the mountain. It soon becomes strenuous. I drop down to my middle chain ring and my third gear. I’ll stay here most of the way until I get almost to the top, then I’ll drop into second. Before that happens, my hands will start to get a little numb, even after switching them around to different spots on the bars. I’m getting closer to the spot and wonder if I’m going to make it today.

Believe it or not, as you crest the top, you start to shift up. It’s a little counter intuitive, why make it harder as you are almost to the top? It will be flat quickly, so you want to maintain your pace. As I approach the trail head, I quickly downshift to prepare for the sharp ascent. It’s eroded, rocky and winding. You lean forward, move up on your seat closer to the handlebars and focus on the upstroke of your feet, which are clipped into your pedals. Lean right, then left and I’m going down fast. There’s the spot. I usually ride through it, but today I stopped. This is the toughest section on the trail and coming down through it is not the hard part, it’s coming up. It’s a big boulder on the left. About four feet wide, rounded high on the left and slopes to the right into a sea of jagged, oddly spaced, granite rocks. It’s ominous.

My first encounters with this section, I walked through it. My imagination would run wild with visions of me hitting the boulder and tipping over into the stone spears. Yes, it was a little gruesome. For tough sections while riding, you always look for the “line.” The path you will follow with the least resistance. Over the years the line through the jagged rocks seemed less risky. There was obvious space between them and even though it looked scary, the ground was flat and with speed behind you, the front tire just had to find the dirt and the back tire would roll over the rocks if not in sync. Today, on my way down, I stopped. For some reason I was compelled to solve this issue once and for all. I laid my bike to the side of the trail. Standing in front of the rocky section, I just stared at it. I looked at the dirt before and after the rocks. It occured to me that there was more erosion around the boulder, than the jagged rocks. I got closer to the boulder and there it was, the line. I can’t believe I never saw this before!

When coming up from the bottom, the big slopping rock is bulging and looks impenetrable. Now standing from the top looking down, it turns out there is a crease in the rock where a bike tire would fit in perfectly. You don’t see it from the bottom, because there is a piece of rock sticking out that you have to get over, to get to the crease. So, to get over the rock, you need speed. I now knew what to do. For some reason, at the end of the ride, I didn’t make it over the rock. I actually didn’t even try it. I chickened out at the last minute and went towards the jagged rocks. To be honest, I don’t think it was necessarily chickening out as much as it was habit. It was the way I always went, so that is where my bike gravitated towards. Of course I didn’t make it and had to step off my bike and walk it up the hill. I was pretty upset riding the rest of the way home. I knew the right thing to do and I still didn’t do it.

A couple of days later I made it. It was actually quite uneventful. I made sure to gather speed, approached the rock, got my front tire over the bulge and into the crease, then the rest of the bike came up. It happened so fast, it caught me off guard. I kept riding, but I slowed down to process in my head what had just happened. I didn’t want to ruin the moment by stopping. Of course on the the ride home I was fascinated by why it took me so long to get over that boulder. 10 years! I made up so many stories in my head about what might happen. I even put myself more at risk by riding through the jagged rocks. Why did I never stop before and stare at the boulder to find the line? Why all of the sudden did I stop now?

I’m not an emotional tracker. I don’t dwell on things for long periods of time or keep track of the reasons why I do things. It takes too much time and energy, so I’ve worked on not investing in it. It’s a process. Riding that trail is a lot of fun for me and it’s an incredible escape. Old friends of mine that I ride it with discuss every fork, turn and technical section, like talking about old friends. I think I never stopped and looked at that boulder, because it was just one small piece of the whole ride. It was kind of insignificant. I accepted that I had to get off my bike for that section and walk it up the hill. As I got familiar with the trail, my bike and my riding capabilities, that rock became more of a thing. It bothered me. Then one day I got tired of the fear, the unknowing and the inconvenience. I said, “no more.”

What’s the rock in your life that you’re not getting over?


How to build a business around your life

According to the government, you would file taxes as a “Self Employed Contractor.” People would even say, “you’re a 1099,” for short. If you had your own DBA (Doing Business As) License, you would be called a “Sole Proprietor.” If you and a partner started a business you could file as a “General Partnership.” From there, you can incorporate, LLC, S-Corp, etc. Years ago you could have been called a traveling salesman or more recently a “Home-based-business.” Many people have called it a “lifestyle business.” You used to have to start your own business to get more flexibility in your life. With technology improving and companies trying to increase the bottom line, you can work from anywhere. Now it’s just called business. Year after year predictions are made about the future of business. The truth is, it won’t be just one way. Whether you live in cities, the countryside or across the globe, you have choices. With real demands of children’s activities, aging parents and the need to keep active and healthy, the question is, what do you want your life to be like? 

When my wife was 7 months pregnant with my daughter, I was laid off from my job. We were a little freaked out. I had some experience freelancing at that point so, I decided to see if I could get some work, while I was trying to find a job. Surprisingly, I got a couple of website clients pretty quickly. With my daughter on her way, my wife and I decided to see if I could give the work from home thing a try. If anything, I would be around for the birth of my daughter and be a part of those first few months that one parent or another always seems to miss. We lucked out. My wife, a small business owner herself, took two months off and when she went back to work, the thought of putting a newborn in daycare, just didn’t seem right yet. I stayed home with my daughter, worked when she was napping, early in the morning and late at night. We made it work. A year later I got a great opportunity to work at a big Web Development agency. After a year there, balancing fatherhood and a long commute, the company asked me for more of my time. I told them I could come in earlier, but they demanded I stay later. Their compromise was to insist I move closer. I was already there more than 8 hours, as well as the hour commute each way, plus working in the morning and at night. It still wasn’t enough. I put in my two weeks the next day. 

It was clear I was on a path to choosing family first. People don’t understand what that encompasses. It’s more than just taking your kids to and from school and contributing financially. It’s also supporting your significant other and being present in their lives. To do that takes a lot of time. Having that extra time, instead of commuting, is incredible. There is so much more you can do. One of the biggest lessons was learning to take care of myself. Being a Web Developer is a sedentary life. I have gained and lost weight so many times, I’ve lost count. It’s only when I got control of my time did I realize I couldn’t continue this way. Not only was it unhealthy, it affected my work. There is nothing worse than being unhealthy, unmotivated and under appreciated. That combination is deadly. I needed a plan. A way of life that fulfilled mine and my families needs, while at the same time staying financially viable. Here’s what I came up with. 

  • Start backwards Figure out how much money you need to make first. If you need to make $10k per month, great, we just need a number to start. 

  • Do the work you like If you hate design, don’t do design. Decide on the work you like to do and see how much of it you can do to make money at it. If not, select something else. 

  • Get involved Be a part of a community and support it. Like really get involved. Volunteer at your child’s school. Go to meet ups. Tell people what you do. Say hello!

  • Hustle If you have to take a step down to take a step up, do it. Do the work that people won’t do. Do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. For novelty, pick up the phone and have a conversation with your client. 

  • Don’t stop. Keep going. Stay on the path. People will try to discourage or sway you. If you have to leave, fine, just come back. 

I’m a persistent bugger. I keep at it until it’s right. Building your life can be slow and sometimes discouraging, but stay with it. It’s so worth it when you get there. 

Your own Web Dev Business is worth the risk

An old mentor of mine said, “I’d rather have my income come from multiple sources instead of relying on one source.” When you think about it, that makes incredible sense. There is a famous idiom that applies to this very idea, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” So, if getting your income from multiple clients with your own business makes more sense than getting all of your income from one company, why do so many people work for companies? Because they buy into the myth of security and consistent income.

According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, the median tenure of workers ages 25 to 34 years is 3 years. Meaning that most college students, after graduating, will work for at least 3 companies within their first 9 years in the workforce. This day in age they may be working for a startup with the hope of hitting it big. There is one problem. More than 90% of startups fail, due primarily to self-destruction rather than competition. So, by working for startups, even if you were hopeful that you could get married, buy a house and have a child, the chances of you being able to support your family, are slim. It’s not only that you may not be able to keep your job, but that while you are there, you won’t have any time to meet your future spouse. Silicon Valley Tech Workers spend 55 to 70 hours a week at their jobs. Whether you work for a startup or not, the hourly work week has gone up. The average person works 47 hours, not 40. So, with no security, no work/life balance and no consistent income, maybe the idea of being an employee for a company isn’t as attractive as we thought.

I have found it interesting that over the years, half the people I meet are surprised that I have been self employed as long as I have. When I tell them that most days, I get to take my daughter to school, pick her up, help her with her homework, make her dinner and tuck her into bed, they don’t believe me. The truth is, I’ve been doing it for years. I love it. The only way I’ve been able to do it, is to be a self employed contractor. The biggest myth with working for yourself, is that you work less. You still work a lot, but you work on the stuff you like to work on and you get incredible flexibility. It’s true, when you are self employed, it doesn’t feel a lot like work. You can literally work a lot or as little as you want. You can make a lot of money or just enough. You can have conference calls while you are walking your dog and send emails to clients while waiting for your daughter after school. You have to be resourceful, tune in to opportunities and love what you do. If all that sounds good to you, you can do this forever.

I think everyone should have their own business. Even if you work for someone else, you should have your own business going on the side. When you know what it’s like to create something from nothing, it’s magical. You see the power in it. You see the freedom in it. Your priorities change and your personal life comes first. Knowing that bill’s are coming and you need to make a certain amount, just so you can pay that bill, gives you more understanding about running a business than most companies I’ve met. Running your own business is not for everyone. I’ve met plenty of people that think they want their own business, but really need that social attention and self importance that an office provides. In addition, some people feel they perform better. Maybe for them, having a business going on the side, would let them hone their skills to bring back to the office and help that company succeed.

I am not company bashing. As a self employed contractor, I work for and continue to work for, great companies. The best part is that I get to choose those companies. I can choose to work for them and decide when to stop working for them. It’s limited risk for the companies, because they don’t have to incur the expense of hiring a highly skilled employee and it’s great for me, because I get to work from home and spend time with my family. If I decide to stop working for companies and do my own thing, I can do that too. After awhile, you start to realize that the concept of risk is relative and can be manipulated, minimized and even set to the side. When you start to see the benefits and possibilities of running your own Web Development Business, the opportunities are so vast, you might ask yourself, “So where is the risk again?”