“Improving a bad thing is easy for the achiever. But messing with a good thing? That’s terrifying.”
— Brendon Burchard, High Performance Habits
Up until a month ago, I had a New York-based job that allowed me to work three days a week and earn as much as a full-time programmer in the city I live: Berlin. I had flexible hours and was benefiting from geographic arbitrage. When I told people about my situation, they said I was lucky, and I knew I was.
When I started at Quizzify five years ago, it was my first developer gig. I had been excited about both entering the world of tech and getting in on the ground floor at a brand new company with an admirable mission.
Figuring out how to build our software, how to win clients, and subsequently succeeding at creating a useful product with solid revenue was thrilling. I felt loyalty towards our small team, and the baby we raised together. After having worked at a stagnating company in the finance world, it was a massive step in the right direction.
But after that initial growth and our first few clients, the ball was rolling mostly on its own. I spent less time learning and thinking of game-changing ideas and more time iterating on features to improve efficiency.
I had plateaued.
I started to blog more and more on the side, and as I began to get positive feedback, I realized I might have something valuable to offer through my writing. I was making close to no money doing it, but I didn’t care because my main job paid me well enough. Through my writing, I was helping people think differently about their lives, and that excited me.
Increasingly, the thought would cross my mind: what if I quit and became a writer full time? But I would brush the idea away before it had any chance to develop, reminding myself most full-time writers live below the poverty line, and how “lucky I was” to have my gig.
Then COVID-19 hit, and I was laid off.
At first, I was shocked and worried. I had rent and bills to pay.
But then I realized this was my opportunity to do what I had wanted for the last year: to focus on writing. I had enough saved not to make a salary for a while. Why not give it a try?
It’s what I really want to do
It’s only been a few weeks so far, but every day I’m more certain getting laid off was a blessing in disguise. I find myself wondering: Why did I wait to get fired to do this?
Even though many pure writers make peanuts, there are plenty of bloggers and authors out there making enough money and more. I’ve been reading about the business side of writing and have loads of ideas I’d never even considered before.
Every time I think of a strategy or task, I don’t get anxious or feel like I have to do it because it’s my job, and someone else is saying it’s important. Instead, I’m excited, I’m hopeful, I’m jumping around in my chair with a grin on my face.
Sure, I’ve been “working” as much as before, but I feel far better about what I’m putting my energy into. And it feels like I have more energy in total to do work.
And now, when I write, I don’t have that nagging feeling that there’s something else I should be doing instead. Now, there’s nothing else I should be doing! And that’s made writing itself easier and more fun.
I have what it takes
I’m in a unique position because I’ve helped start a small business from scratch (only now, the small business is myself). And I also have technical skills as a web developer, which has helped in setting up my website on Wordpress.
Most importantly, I know I’ve got something valuable to offer that will only get better with focus and practice: my writing.
Generating enough income to do this fulltime won’t happen overnight, but even if I fail on my first few tries, I know this is a solvable puzzle.
Before I was let go, I told myself leaving my job to write was unreasonable. But often fear is disguised as reason. They are easy to confuse because there is reason to be found in our fear-driven decisions.
But the underlying motivation is still fear.
I would not have left my job on my own because I was afraid of being worse off. But now I’m here, and it feels so right. So here it is in print:
I will not let fear guide me again.
Instead, I will be led by excitement and opportunity because those are the only motivations that make “work” truly irresistible.
See more and connect at nychickinberlin.com