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I’d done it again. A private group of oddball entrepreneurs had extended me an invitation to rejoin them after I’d quit a while back. The idea crept into my head that I really ought to be giving this entrepreneurship jazz a go so that I could properly diversify my income, so I accepted the invitation, gave my credit card details over and logged back in.
After writing my introductory posting and asking for help on something that had just come up for me, I set about writing another post about what I needed help with. I was thinking of kicking The Paid to Play Podcast back into gear and I knew the site could use some tweaking. But when I sat down to write the post, I discovered that I didn’t really want to ask for help.
Not because I thought I could do it myself, but because turning the Paid to Play Podcast into a Big Deal, the kind of deal that turns into income, wasn’t really a priority.
I read an article once about how wanting to be a writer is the first mistake you could make and that the best thing to do was go out and do interesting things until you found something you couldn’t stop yourself from writing about. It’s a great idea, but I missed its central point. I kept trying to find interesting things for the sake of writing about them, not simply for their own sake.
And there was another point I was missing, too: that in going out and chasing things to be interested in, I was neglecting the interesting things already in my life.
Making Misery Through Chasing Success
The thing I’ve been chasing most recently looks a lot like the model successful life some folks on the Internet advocate. You know: a lifestyle I design and control. Work that revolves around what I love doing. Freedom from debt. Working from home.
And boy, have I chased. I’ve subscribed to blogs and feeds and articles for ages, downloaded how-to-guides and manifestos and fill-in-the-blank action plans, desperate to Change Something, Escape the Day Job, Pay Our Debts Off, cramming articles into my eyeballs that tell me how much better my life would be once I started Setting Goals and Moving On Projects. I’ve attended groups, made contacts, even scored some work.
The result of all that chasing? Only feeling more miserable about the situation I was in at the time.
I kept forcing myself to get attention, produce regular content, become a successful entrepreneur or whatever other name was out there for what I was trying to be, and I’d wind up unhappy at work, unhappy at home, unhappy with my wife, unhappy with my friends and colleagues, unhappy with everyone and everything keeping me from Doing the Something Else I Ought To Be Doing. I was also unhappy with myself for a) not knowing what that Something was and b) not wanting to do it when I did know.
The annoying thing? I’ve chased things and felt just as miserable about them as before I even tried being an entrepreneur:
- Gaming. Oh, boy, gaming. The chase of a good time doing something cool with other people. Whether it’s been tabletop RPGs or playing Halo over Xbox Live, I’ve let some imagined ideal creative / tactical good time lead me through a lot of study (particularly in tabletop RPGs; I’ve spent more money and time on rulebooks and supplements than I ever have actually playing) and other dullness, especially when the reality of playing was pretty ho-hum. Plus, organizing gamers is truly akin to herding cats.
- I nearly did it again recently with the comic strips I’ve been creating. I tried to create three strips per week in the name of making a Legitimate Web Comic with a for-real audience and such. Instead, I wrung my idea mill dry in short order and have only had ideas for a couple more since.
- Writing a novel. More on that quit here.
So it’s high time I quit chasing. But it’s easy to say “stop”or “don’t.” What do I want instead?
I want to enjoy the interesting people and things already in my life and the new ones as they come up, rather than chasing down new experiences for the sake of catching and keeping an audience or building a brand or business. I’d rather enjoy the good life I have right now, pressures notwithstanding, than neglect it by chasing an ideal partly out of fear of the worst. (Tweet!)
Though it’s early days yet, I’m making some progress. I’ve already uninstalled most of the social media apps from my phone — symbolic perhaps, but I’m hoping the work of having to hunt them down in the Play Store will deter me from putting them back on, as I want to wean myself off a habit of checking for updates and likes.
I’ve also started noticing when the old urges to post or update or revise or tweak come up — and when they do, I just concentrate on breathing, let the urge pass and find something else to do instead.
I actually cleaned my desk as a result yesterday. Yes. Actually cleaned and tidied my desk.
Pick yourself up off the floor, please.
Then there’s this post. I’ll be honest; the previous Reader Quits I’ve submitted [Cordelia note: Rob’s a three-peat Quitter! See here and here] have been motivated in good part by the chase of a career in freelance writing– upping my profile and all that. (It worked, too; I managed to score some freelance writing work with a local firm thanks to my library of clips. They even thought I was already doing regular work as a paid freelancer. I guess I am good at this writing stuff!)
Now? I’m writing this post because writing it feels like the right thing to do right now, and it feels like a better fit for Cordelia’s blog than my own. Freelance writing can wait.
Not only that; things have started happening without me trying every second of the day to make them happen.
A few months ago, I got a phone call from an old friend who runs a data communication service business. I’d applied for an admin job there when things weren’t going great at the day job. Sadly, that didn’t work out, but they insisted on keeping my resume on file for something higher-level. My friend’s phone call was to let me know that they’d created said high-level position and wanted me to fill it.
A week later, I’d handed in my one month’s notice at the company I’d worked at for over nine years, the longest day job I’ve ever had.
Now, I’m doing more involving work in a much smaller office with fewer but more enthusiastic folks than my last job. Rather than try to build a second (or eventual replacement) income, I’d rather make sure I’m doing my part to secure my main income and keeping my home and social life free of busy-ness (outside the usual housekeeping stuff, which, if I haven’t mentioned already, I’m doing more of. (I am, aren’t I, darling?)).
And finally, a couple of years after I was last seriously looking for voice work (around the same time I was seriously trying to get the hell out of my last day job), an old contact got in touch two weeks ago about a web TV series project she’s taken off the backburner. She’s decided I’m the perfect voice for a role in the project; we’ve agreed on a rate and I recorded some initial takes for her this morning.
So, right now seems just the time to quit chasing entrepreneurship and everything else I’ve chased before, let my outside-hours life be and focus on being peaceful and happy.
Can you say the same? Or are you currently caught up in the chase?
Well, what can one say about Rob Farquhar that he hasn’t covered above? He’s still blogging and posting web comics over at The Society for Doing Things, though for the sake of his sanity he’s refusing to commit to a schedule or editorial calendar. The same goes for The Paid to Play Podcast, an Internet chat show whose guests have turned passions into incomes, whether sideline or self-supporting ( Cordelia herself was a guest for Episode 15).
Rob is learning a new 9-to-5 helping customers use a virtual fax system. When the work day is done, he returns to his wife and their home outside Cairns, Queensland, Australia, where he juggles meditating, watching Doctor Who, exercising, a pair of canine fur-kids and pretending to hide under desks in Alien: Isolation (naturally, he’s better with the TV and the game). Check him out on YouTube, Facebook or Google+ or follow him on Twitter.
Main Image: Matthew Romack / Flickr
Author Photo: Romy Bullerjahn
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