How to Escape a Gilded Cage - A Developer's Perspective
I’ve just finished reading “Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers. Simply speaking it’s one of the best hours you spend reading. The book is really short. I read it in an hour or so. ( Derek Sivers was a guest in the Tim Ferriss podcast. It’s worth listening to build better context for the book. )
Two quotes that stuck with me are:
Never do anything just for money.
- Derek Sivers
The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy.
- Derek Sivers
The developer market is on fire. Having a bit of experience, it’s easy to land a job with a yearly salary of $60k. There are plenty of jobs for software developers. Technology doesn’t matter, so you can code in JS, Java, PHP, Ruby, C# to name a few. I’ve been focused on JS with React for the past 7 years and it seems like the JS market is currently the biggest and is growing the fastest.
For me context is everything so I’ll build a “complete” picture:
- Developer (10 years of experience)
- Family (3 kids)
- Full-time gig
- Willingness to make own products
I bet working as a software developer nowadays is a luxury. People from different domains are trying to move to the IT world. There is so much money that one would say we’re living a dream.
But what if we’re trapped in the gilded cage?
Wikipedia says The Gilded Cage, derived from the phrase “a bird in a gilded cage”, means living in a luxurious prison.
What if your current job no longer makes you happy? What if you want to try something different? What if you’ve already spotted all possible problems/solutions/architectures? Or maybe you’re just bored?
I’ve been working as a software developer for over 10 years. I’ve already seen most of the JS problems/challenges/new amazing products. I want to try something different ( that’s exactly why I’ve made my own company - to build products ).
But the glided cage…
If you have family, you can’t just quit your job. Life is a bit more complex. You have obligations. You need to take care of your family. You are responsible.
The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Side-projects don’t work ( for me )
I don’t know how to escape a gilded cage. I’m already trapped.
My previous strategy (?) hasn’t solved a problem. I know for sure that side-projects don’t work for me. Working full-time, raising kids, staying healthy, and running side-projects don’t work. It’s too much. 24 hours a day is not enough.
We’ve been working on CrossKeeper for almost 3 years. But it wasn’t full focus. We had periods when we really focused on just CrossKeeper and the results were amazing. To be honest, those were the only times when we made any progress. I want to get back that experience. I want to see progress every week. I don’t want to wait to prepare a demo for customers because I’m also running a full-time gig.
Lion meets “seasons”
My new idea is a connection of Naval’s “Work like a lion” from How to Get Rich & Nathan Barry Seasons | Nathan Barry.
The way people tend to work most effectively, especially in knowledge work, is to sprint as hard as they can while they feel inspired to work, and then rest. They take long breaks. It’s more like a lion hunting and less like a marathoner running. You sprint and then you rest. You reassess and then you try again. You end up building a marathon of sprints.
I will split my time into 3-6 month-long periods. I will take a consulting job for 6 months. During the “work” period, I will put money aside. I already keep my expenses low, so I could buy time in the future. For the next 6 months, I will focus on my own project. 6 months of solid work is enough to validate an idea. I believe that time will give me a breeze of fresh air. So I could come back to consulting. Come back with passion, engagement & motivation. I would cycle between those two modes to experiment with different stuff. I believe experiments are a way to find what makes you happy.
Living like a lion is also an experiment. I’ll see how it goes.