I realized today that a couple weeks ago I achieved a goal I had been trying to achieve since about four and a half years ago. I’ve grown and improved so much in that time that the achievement of the goal just seemed like such a natural event in the course of going about my life that it didn’t even register as something worth thinking about until weeks after it had happened.
My goal was to get a client that would give me a steady stream of work into the indefinite future and would also be okay with something less than 40 hours a week. Naively, I didn’t even set this as a goal when I first started freelancing. I knew so little that I just assumed that I could arrange such a thing for myself without any special work required to make it happen. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did it not happen effortlessly, it took four and a half years to do it!
The exact form that the fulfillment of my goal has taken is that I’m doing Ruby on Rails work for an agency in NYC that has an explicit 35ish-hour work week for its full-time employees, and is totally okay with 25 hours a week for its contractors. They share my opinion that it’s actually counterproductive for someone to work too many hours in a week, and that you reach the “too many hours” mark well before 40 hours. This is an opinion that’s presently not very widely held and even fairly controversial. I find this silly because to me it’s so obviously true. Anyway, I’m very grateful to have finally found a client who shares my belief and to have a relationship with them. For anyone wanting to duplicate my experience, I wish I had some secret to share, but I don’t. My best advice is to market yourself aggressively and have as many conversations with as many prospective clients as you can. This will increase your “luck surface area” and increase the chances that among the prospects you talk with lies a prospect who is good with a work week of fewer than 40 hours. (And of course, if the client is a guest client, your weekly workload is entirely up to you.)
I’m still contracting on the side with the client who I was working for as a W2 employer for a number of months. That’s going fine.
Destination vs. journey
I’ve been thinking more lately about the destination vs. journey. I’m realizing more and more that there’s no such thing as “arrival”. You never “make it” and then feel all set. Therefore it’s vitally important for me not to subordinate the quality of my day to day life to some expected future result. So I’m thinking about how I can be more present and alive right now rather than to have complete focus on the future. The future, of course, never gets here. It’s always the present, and if you’re always wishing you were in the future and not living in the present, you’re never really fully living. That’s a sad way for a person to live a life, although I think it’s probably the way a lot of people operate. I certainly spent years operating this way. To an extent I still do, although I’ve been dialing it down for some time now.
I’ve also been thinking lately that maybe there’s no meaning or purpose in anything except the meaning or purpose you give it. I used to evaluate every activity based on whether it was a means to a worthy end. For example, reading a book about how to retire at age 30 is a means to a worthy end, but washing the dishes isn’t, because washing the dishes doesn’t really “move you forward” at all. But now, as I think about how I might spend my time after I free myself of the need to work for money, I’m wondering if there’s much of a significant difference between painting a painting and doing the dishes. As long as I can learn to enjoy the activities I’m performing, does it really matter what the activity is? And if I can learn how to enjoy any activity, do I really have to wait to unlock some achievement before I feel like I can start enjoying life in general? These thoughts are synthesized from the ideas I took from two books I recently read, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The former is full of voodoo but has some messages worth hearing, and the latter is just pure fucking gold and I can’t wait to read it again.