I used to sit in my cubicle with a blank Excel sheet open on the monitor and my phone propped up on the keyboard (obscured only if I sat in just the right position).
I have no idea how many hours I wasted, watching Gary Vee videos, dreaming of escaping the rat race and building my own career. I’d imagine the entrepreneur life — closing deals, traversing the country, wearing $75 tee shirts.
I wanted the money. I wanted the attention. I wanted the hustle.
Or did I…
On June 9, 2017 I walked away from my corporate career. My wife, freshly out of pharmacy school, landed a residency in Pittsburgh that paid 2/3 of what I was earning at the time. With some money in the bank and a few freelancing projects lined up, the other 1/3 wouldn’t be so difficult for me to scrounge up.
If you’re expecting a “Well, everything didn’t go as planned” the opposite actually happened.
We did really well after I left my corporate career, earning more in a year than ever before. I landed a few more projects, I brought on some retainer clients. I was making money that didn’t require me to slave away in an office for 40+ hours a week.
I had — in every sense of the phrase — made it.
Five months into the venture, I hired a business coach to help me take my freelancing business and build it into a money making machine.
One of the first things my coach had me do was a specific type of ambition mapping called Massive Action Planning (attributed to Tony Robbins). The practice requires you create three columns with the middle column representing your goals, the right column representing your desires or purpose behind those goals, and the left column represents the massive actions you can take today to step toward your goals.
I wanted employees, I wanted a real office, I wanted 5 figures a month. I jotted those down into the middle column. But when I tried working out my purpose for achieving them, something didn’t feel quite right.
What would I do with $10,000 a month? How much time and energy will it take to manage employees? An office, how do I get one of those?
Was that really my dream?
I froze. For years, I thought once one exits the rat race of corporate America one enters the rat race of entrepreneurship. The only difference being that entrepreneurship is sexy, and cool.
I didn’t want sexy and cool. I didn’t want the entrepreneur lifestyle. I didn’t want to be the guy who broke free and made it big on his own.
What did I really want?
I wanted to be a good husband to my wife (who’s pregnant with our next child and kicking ass as a pharmacy resident). I wanted to be a good dad to our son. I wanted to be the goofy, dorky, and un-cool person that I am.
I didn’t want to be Gary Vee, I wanted to be me.
At the end of January, I came home from a conference and sat my wife down.
Me: I don’t want a big business.
Me: I just want one new project every two months or so.
Me: And I want to take our son out of daycare and watch him full-time.
Me: And make YouTube videos with him.
Wife: Go for it.
Don't take this the wrong way, I’m super happy to be sitting here on a Monday morning in my favorite coffee shop writing away instead of sitting in a cubicle. But, the alternative to working-for-the-man isn’t burn-yourself-out-building-the-next-Uber.
The alternative I’ve found, is designing a lifestyle that fits your real desires and interests and figuring out how to support that lifestyle with work that doesn’t detract from it (or detracts very little).
In my case, I love filmmaking. I started a vlog after I left my corporate career to document my transition into this new lifestyle. I’d talk about business stuff and entrepreneur things but found myself bored with the content. What I enjoyed doing the most was making silly videos with my toddler son instead.
I realized I could take on one client every other month and work on projects while my son naps. This would be enough to support our lifestyle while we use the rest of the time making YouTube videos.
Therefore, this week we are pulling my son out of daycare and on my 28th birthday (April 10th), we’re hitting record and making a vlog every single day for an entire year.
It’s crazy. But feasible. And 100% what I want to do for no other reason than: This makes me happy.
Even in my late twenties, I feel like my life is only just beginning. I’ve spent the majority of adulthood questioning and justifying everything I do, looking to successful people for inspiration, but only mimicking what they do. Failing to realize that what sets apart those who achieve success and those who fail is:
Success comes from chasing what you want. Not what you think others want from you.
The path that’s best for you is the one you make. Maybe entrepreneurship is right for you, maybe it’s not. Whatever you do, shamelessly and without regret make it your own.
If you happen to be a service-based professional looking to free up your time, check out my business here.
If you want follow the story of a young family’s adventure as we navigate the seemingly ordinary events of daily life, check out our YouTube channel here.