Oh diligent readers of my blog… you may not have noticed, but over the past year I’ve been dropping hints about a new direction my life has been taking. Have you been connecting the dots?
In Minecraft: Starting from Scratch, I talked about the overcoming the fear of starting something new.
In Networking for People Who Cringe at the Word “Networking” I discussed innovative methods for expanding my professional network as an introvert and as a musician.
In The Triple Threat to Performing Music as a Career, I interviewed several musicians about how they made their livings as musicians
In Experiments in Productivity, I cataloged an experiment into what life would be like if I did music full-time.
Which is why I’m nervous, excited, and really proud today to announce that I will be leaving my full-time job to pursue a freelance career in music. This is a direction I have been working towards for the past 2 or so years. I’ve been writing more music, performing regularly with area (and outside the area) groups, and expanding my contacts; all in all, I’ve been building a bridge to a new career, and today I’m ready to make a big leap.
In many ways this is a leap of faith. This is not like leaving a job to go to an established new job. I have the framework in place to start building my new business, but there are plenty of missing pieces. For example, I want and need to be performing more frequently than I am now, I’m looking to acquire private students, and I have large gaps in my schedule that will be open once I leave my 9-5 job. I have realized though, that I have come about as far as I can while constrained by a full time schedule. I need to trust that my hard work and diligence will allow me to fill in those missing pieces over the next few months. I’m delighted to be devoted to working toward something that means so much to me.
In addition to finding work playing and teaching music, I plan to utilize my other skills as income streams as well. I still enjoy teaching computer classes, and I plan to offer private consulting. I have been teaching web design for the past 4 years, and I feel confident offering my services to people and organizations looking for a web presence. I have some high-end skills in some specific computer programs as well that can be valuable in a consulting context. And most importantly, I’m ready to adapt to whatever difficulties I face by shifting gears and trying other ways of doing things.
I have only told a few people about my plans, and the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. My good friends Samantha and Rachel both have careers made up of a series of different income streams, and they have been both realistic sounding boards as well as sources of kindness and support. In April my friend Dave began a blog called I Refuse to Wear a Tie, in which he discusses his journey of self-realization after leaving his job in the pharmaceutical industry after 10 or so years. We had a great talk about what we were going through, what we wanted, and how we were hoping to achieve it. And yesterday afternoon I spoke with my former tuba teacher and good friend Jay about my decision. He gave me a smile and a gentile punch on the arm, then told me: “Good for you! Life is too short.” Hearing that meant quite a lot to me.
Some friends have been a little more worried about my decision. After all, I have a steady income, excellent benefits, and job security. As one friend told me, “why would you want to give that up? The job market is terrible these days! Can’t you just do music on the side and keep the job?” And despite shaking my confidence, he made some valid points. Points that I’ve been struggling with for a few months now.
See, in 2004 before I got my first full time job teaching computer classes, I spent a long time unemployed and directionless. I took a series of temp jobs to sustain myself (with plenty of help from my parents). So when I think of leaving my current job, there’s a part of me that thinks that if I ever wanted to enter the mainstream workforce again, I’d have to settle for a series of menial jobs to eke out a living. Stocking grocery store shelves is the one that always pops into my mind (with apologies to any aspiring shelfers).
My friends and support network have fortunately been able to convince me that I will actually have more options than shelf stocker. It’s that voice of uncertainty from many years ago that is telling me that’s what my life will devolve to, and I’m ready to stop believing it.
So let’s say that my efforts into doing music full time turn out to be unsustainable, whether due to the market, my interests, or my talents. I have faith that the skills I have will allow me to find work somewhere if I need to. I’m a valued employee with quite a few desired skills. If I find myself one year from now back in a full time job fitting music in where I can, at least I will know that I am there by conscious decision. I can also take pride in the face that I am someone who is always looking to improve the quality of my life, and this was just another step along that path.
It sounds like I’m pessimistic of my chances here, but I’m overwhelmingly excited to get out there and see what I can do. Whether this endeavor is successful or not is irrelevant; I’m ready to devote myself to something new. This entire process has been thrilling; coming up with ways to develop musically and as an entrepreneur. I look forward to continuing the tasks I’ve already started and finally being able to pour myself wholeheartedly into the projects I have developed and set up for myself. You can expect more stories from the outside, more about the journey toward my potential, and lots of cautionary tales about the mistakes that I’m making (there will be plenty!). Thanks for being with me up until this point. Onward to the future!