Thursday, July 30, 2015

Three Years Homeless: Lessons Learned

Three years. It's been three years since I started this crazy project. When I hit my first anniversary, I couldn't believe I'd made it that long. Never did I think I would be writing about living in my car for three years, but here I am.

Today is a big day for this blog beyond just commemorating my third year. First, I'm posting on LinkedIn for the first time under my personal account (and in doing so, revealing my identity). I'm curious to know what my colleagues will think when they find out that I've been homeless for three-quarters of the time they've known me. Were they suspicious? Could they tell? Are they surprised and intrigued to know how I did it? I suspect it will be interesting to see how they respond.

It's also the first time in about a year since I last posted, and I wanted this post to be a response to my rather lengthy hiatus. There are a number of reasons such as not seeing as much readership as I had hoped, but the larger reason is what I wanted to address. This past year, I became overly-focused on my work and career, leading many of my personal projects to fall by the wayside. I was put in a position of more responsibility, and I had been told many times that it was only a matter of time before I would receive a promotion. To that end, I stepped up my efforts, focused on demonstrating my capabilities to my management, and put most parts of my personal life (including my ambitions for this blog) on hold.

The result? In no way did it pay off the way I had hoped. I didn't wind up getting recognition at work. I spent less and less time with my friends and family. I became stressed, ate more junk food, gained weight, and kept telling myself that it was only a matter of time before my hard work and dedication would pay off. More than once, I've told my friends that I wished I had spent more time keeping up with this blog in the hopes that it might garner greater a greater following and recognition.

I'm not writing to complain about my career or whine about not having enough time. Rather, I want this past year of my life to be an example that seriously challenges those who espouse the notion of a "work/life balance." That's a cliche that is just about as overused as talking about the "cloud" in the IT industry right now - everybody says it, but I don't think that they really understand what it means. I don't think that I've met anyone who actually has a good work/life balance.

So, what am I suggesting? I can't claim that I have a 12-step solution that will help you achieve a better work/life balance, but I want you to consider this: if your career is the most important thing to you right now and where you spend the majority of your time and effort, you're doing it wrong. Your career will never bring you success in life. Let me say that again in the hopes that it will sink in: your career will never bring you success in life. While we certainly need to work to live, we do not live to work. It's far more important to be successful in your personal life than to be successful in your career. Have you found yourself sacrificing more and more of your personal time, hobbies, and efforts in order to be successful in your career? Stop. It's not worth it. Maybe it's time to find a new job that allows you to be successful both in and outside of work. Like I said at the end of another post, time isn't money because you can always make more money; you cannot make more time.

How do I plan to take these words to heart? Well, for one, I'm no longer at my previous job (so technically, I'm the homeless AND unemployed, right now). I decided that it was time that I focus on the plans and projects that I've always talked about but never managed to take action on in the hopes that it will lead to a meaningful income. I saved enough money living in my car that I'm at the perfect place in my life to do so. I also want to try to be more regular with this blog. Even though I'm currently living under a roof and may not go back to living in my car at this point, I still have a lot to share from my experiences that I think would benefit the average person. So, provided that a) I don't let my life get out of control again, and b) I see that people still have an interest in reading this, I'll keep posting.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully, I'll be writing again, soon . . .