Hey everyone, my name is John Garrett from over at Hypertransitory.com.
I do art, comics, graphic design, plus I love web and tech stuff like Joomla, WordPress, Bittorrent and other web technologies. I know you’re only supposed to blog about one thing but I can’t help it!
I have to thank Steve for inviting me over to share my titanic tale of ending the toil. Please join me as I’m sure many of you can relate to my story.
Well, maybe not so secret. I did exactly what society told me I’m supposed to do: Namely go to college, graduate, try to land a job in my field and then work that for 50 years or so until I retire and die.
When you eventually realize that it’s sucking the soul out of you, it may be too late to reverse course and change things. Or at least that’s what the fear will tell you. I gave in to the fear for way too long and wasted some good years of my life.
No more. No mas…
On The Job
I’ve been working my most recent job for over 10 years now. The kind of place where it’s so small everyone has to wear many different hats. It’s the kind of thing that can really burn you out.
I had to be a web designer, print designer, video producer, photography assistant, tech support, prepress and also answer phones to do customer support. Whew!
The pay was not very good, but when they hired me I desperately needed the job, so I took it. Also, I didn’t have all the skills I now have when I first signed on. I knew all about print work and prepress, but not much web stuff.
Luckily (for them), I was so interested in the web that I would spend my nights and weekends learning it and building my own sites – developing skills on my own time that I would then bring back to the company and use for the low rate I was being paid.
My own fault for not realizing my worth.
Not only that but I had an almost hour-long drive one-way, so depending on traffic I could be spending over two hours on the road per day.
Sometimes it would be difficult for me to muster up the energy to use my creativity for myself when I got home. I would just veg on the couch. I did this for years.
Failing To See The Logic…
So what changed?
As time went on, I acquired more and more skill, mostly from doing my own things and projects on the side. In addition, I was spending my own time and considerable money to get close to people who really knew what they were doing -places like problogger, thirdtribe, and webmasterworld all showed me the way things should be done.
They weren’t being done that way at my job, and it was extremely frustrating to me.
Jobs that could be so simple were requiring herculean efforts to complete based on the draconian and frankly incompetent restrictions that the company was placing on me.
I finally realized that they were completely ignorant of what was going on out there on the web and how things should really work.
There was a lot of friction in the last few months there, with the bosses essentially letting me know that they didn’t trust my judgement and they didn’t want to do things my way. Even though in many cases I was literally the only person who could complete the projects!
Well, I failed to see the logic in their decision.
Getting It Together
It was soul-searching time. When 2011 rolled around I realized that I had been there a solid 10 years. I was almost 40 and I hadn’t had a raise in 6(!) years.
I was living check to check and hadn’t had a vacation in years (I would either use my vacation as sick days or just stay home and chill since I didn’t really have money to go anywhere decent).
I didn’t blame the job, I blamed myself for sitting on my ass for so long and being complacent and being afraid to go out on my own.
Did someone with my skills really have to put up with this? Hell, no.
The final, inescapable truth hit me: If I was going to struggle, be miserable and fail as I was doing at that job, well, I could just go ahead and do all that by myself!
People, we need to be happy. Life is short and I had just tricked off 10 years slaving away for other people and not living life to its fullest potential. I realized that time was more important to me than the money.
But there’s a lot of things I want out of life, and yes money will help me get those things. So I decided that from now on, I was going to earn what I’m worth.
That’s the way it is, and I just won’t work for less.
As far as I’m concerned, I would rather move back in with my mother and take my time back rather than waste it on the job and be miserable for chump change (of course I would be busting ass trying to get out of my mother’s house, then!).
So I decided that was it! I gave them my two-weeks notice. Wanna know what the first thing out of their mouths was when I quit?
“Can you work part-time?”
Huh? I thought I was so dumb that my opinions didn’t matter? But hearing the desperation in their voices was satisfying. I know I should be above that but I wasn’t.
Back In Black
So here’s the thing. I still work there two days out of the week, but I told them that they would have to pay my new rate and pay me what I was worth. They didn’t like it, but it was non-negotiable. I was obviously prepared to walk (and half-hoping they wouldn’t agree to it, anyway), so they paid me.
If they would have just listened up and avoided frustrating me I’d probably still be there complacently doing all this stuff for the same rate they were paying me for the last 6 years.
Right off, I let them know they weren’t coming first. I told them they should be concentrating on finding my replacement, because if I was offered work that paid more, they were going to take a back-burner. From now on I come first.
Fortune and Glory and Blogging
So with all that said, I don’t want to make it look like I just sailed off into the sunset and everything was cool. I still have to work to make ends meet, but when you’re working for yourself you can ease a lot of the frustrations.
I wouldn’t have been able to pull this off without my blog and without the people I met online who threw work my way.
Things aren’t set up the way I want just yet. I’m working toward the holy grail of “passive income”, but until then my blog serves as a showpiece of what I can do and a place for people to contact me and get to know me.
With 3 days of my week spent solely on my own projects I can really keep moving forward with my own plans, plus get out in the sunshine and enjoy life. And you know what? Those two days at my old job really aren’t so bad now that some ground rules have been laid and I’m earning more.
Life is really starting to look up since I overcame the fear and doubt that kept me paralyzed for 10 years and started believing in myself.
But to put this in perspective: I’m single with no kids, so if I ended up in the gutter then it’s only me that has to pay the price. I know some of you have families that depend on you so you can’t just make a move like that.
Still you can keep planning, keep laying that groundwork on your blogs and niche-sites. Your patience will pay off eventually, especially if you keep making the right connections online on sites like this one.
There’s absolutely no reason it can’t happen.
I don’t want anyone to waste any more time, it just too valuable. I don’t care how old you are, male or female, black, white, green or red. Happiness is out there but we all need to reach out and take it, we can’t expect it to just come knocking on the door and have all the pieces fall into place for us.
Take control and DO it, people.
Thanks a lot for reading my story and just let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to tell anything you want to know!
JG is an artist, writer, Joomla/Wordpress wrangler and all around capital fellow who prefers his food in sandwich form.