At the end of August 2021, I finally did it. I made the jump from my full-time job to run my own business. This was something I had been wanting to do for a while, but it wasn't without its challenges.
I want to share a couple of things here:
- Why I decided to do this
- Questions around this decision
- What's next
How it started
I spent 4 years getting my undergraduate degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. To this day, I am so proud of how hard I worked to get that degree.
Immediately upon graduating college, I got a job working for Lockheed Martin, a Fortune 500 defense company. When I say immediately, I mean I landed the job while I was still in school. I presented my final college project, and less than a week later, my wife and I packed up everything and moved 5 hours away to start my dream job.
After a couple of years, I managed to work my salary up to $90K+. I was doing well, and the company was grateful for the work I was doing.
After four years at Lockheed Martin, I knew I was ready for something else. There was nothing wrong with the company, the people, or the job itself. It was just as I had imagined it would be.
What changed was my mindset. Working for a company that large, you become a small cog in the corporate wheel. It eventually wore on me. I lost motivation for what I was doing. I started to feel that I could be having a greater impact somewhere else. For those of you who have felt this before, you know there is no going back. It was this moment that triggered me to look for something else. This something else became web development.
I spent nights and weekends learning everything I could about web development. I started with web development programming languages. I then learned how to build websites and how I can use them to help organizations grow.
My goal was not to only build websites. Websites are a tool to perform a specific task. I became aware I wanted to help people. I wanted to have a direct impact on helping organizations and businesses. After lots of research, I discovered that many companies needed help. They were wasting money on their website when it could be doing more for them.
I became obsessive about learning how I could help them. I dove into everything marketing, sales, and how to run a business.
Why money isn't the only thing that matters
As I started to contemplate whether I could make a career switch, I had to ask myself a lot of questions.
- Did I want to give up such a steady income?
- Can I make enough money?
- What will people think?
Most of my questions centered around two ideas, money and the perception of others.
Money plays an important role in all our lives. It is something we need, but we also want to enjoy what we do to make it.
If you were to break up the day into 8 hour time chunks, it would look like this.
Working - 8 hours
Sleeping - 8 hours
Being awake - 8 hours
That means we spend approximately half of our waking lives working. Isn't that a lot of time? We should all be working at jobs we enjoy. Does that mean every single day is easy, no. Not at all. It means that at the end of the day we feel fulfilled by the work we are doing. We all deserve to feel this way about our work.
There reaches a point where money doesn't provide additional happiness. I started to cling to this saying.
"I want my career to fit into my life, not make my life fit into my career."
I took a good look at the people I worked with who were 20 years down the road from me in their careers. I saw the career they had and what it cost them to get it. Some of them missed family events, had to travel for weeks on end, work ridiculous hours to meet government deadlines. As I looked at that future, I knew it was something I didn't want. This might not be the case for everyone, but it was for me.
The next big idea was, what do people think? It sounds like a selfish reason, but it shouldn't be. We all make decisions and choices based on what other people think of us. What if we don't have the newest phone, the most expensive car, or even the largest house? How will people view us?
I don't know about you, but staying at a job just because people think it's the wise decision or because they are proud you work there is dumb. We only get one life. We can't rewind and do it over.
If today you stopped making decisions based on what others think, what would you do? How different would your life look? Would you start that business? Write that book? Go back to school? We all have things deep down inside that we want to do. Chase after those. Don't let other people tell you, you can't do it. Those people are jealous they can't live a life that fulfills them. You will never regret putting in the hard work of learning how to do something that moves you closer to your goal.
Once this mindset sank in for me, I knew I had to quit my day job. I worked really hard nights and weekends to start making money doing this. I landed clients and started making money. I cut back on extra spending and saved as much as I could. I got to the point where I was ready to leap, and I haven't looked back.
At the time of writing this, I have been self-employed for 7 weeks. I am excited about the direction my business is heading in and who I have been able to work with so far. I look forward to growing my business with the knowledge that failure is inevitable. When I do fail, I will pick myself up and keep moving forward, because great things are never easy.
I want to share this quote from James Dyson(inventor of Dyson vacuum cleaner).
“What I’ve learned from running is that the time to push hard is when you’re hurting like crazy and you want to give up. Success is often just around the corner.”
I love this quote. I only lose if I give up. Failing is not a metric by which I can or can't do this. I will do this, and I will keep going until I do.