I'm on a train to New York City. Yesterday was my last day working for the Federal Government. I am leaving the safety of the civil service cocoon after ten years. I had it good there and never thought I would leave. But then a dream job materialized before me and I was faced with one of "those moments". You know, those moments that happen to "other people" where they have to make a decision that could change their life. I struggled with the great "stay safe and warm until I grow old vs. pursuing dreams" question, although not for long. It was pretty apparent that it was a no-brainer and that I would ultimately be happier moving on. So I accepted the offer to go work with the awesome people at Lullabot.
I started part-time a few weeks ago and will officially start full-time this Monday. I'm heading to New York to check out the digs and settle in for our summer gig in New York. This post will be a bit long-winded as I dump my personal thoughts about this change and why it is so significant for me. So if you aren't interested in navel-gazing you may want to stop here. Otherwise...
Firstly, a bit about the job that I left at the Court of Federal Claims. I had a secure job with good pay and a great boss (and when I say great I mean it like Tony the Tiger "Grrreat" - Jim should get some sort of "Manager of the Universe and All-Around Great Person" award). I was well-respected and comfortable in my position as an expert in my niche. I had some room to explore new things on my own initiative so while complacent in some ways I had enough challenges to keep me happy. All of this, not to mention government benefits - insurance, retirement, paid sick and vacation leave and a ridiculous number of official holidays off. So, basically I had a damn cushy situation. I figured I'd ride that out until minimum retirement age and then go off to do other cool and exciting things with full retirement pay in the bank.
This is where I was in my life when Lullabot surprised me with an offer to come work for them. I was pretty well dumbfounded by the offer. I was flattered to be sure but I was also confused and I sort of laughed it off. This didn't fit into any of my plans for the future (and were these people nuts for making me an offer anyway? I mean I am no super-hacker for sure.) It sounded kinda cool, but I had a brand new big mortgage from doubling the size of our house, I had retirement benefits and what would my partner Colleen think about tossing away my government-steady income? I really couldn't see how it made sense to make that kind of jump right now. That night I had a long drive up into the mountains by myself. I had time to think. After a week of discussion with friends, family and Lullabot, I jumped.
So what made Lullabot worth the jump? Well, aside from the practical matters of me still being able to pay my mortgage and fun stuff like being able to work from home, there are two biggies: the people and the opportunity for me to grow and pursue my dreams. I genuinely like these people. Aside from just general likeability, they are frickin' wicked-ass smart and well, just good people. And I love hacking until the wee hours of the morning with them or just shooting the shit about whatever random topic. They are also very visible and active in the Drupal community and they want to do "Great Things". Now, there are lots of people I enjoy working with but the hook, line and sinker on not just going to work for Lullabot, but making the greater leap of major career change, was really fueled by the crazy, wide open opportunities I will have. I have learned a lot about Drupal in the year I have been mucking around but this job will accelerate that to light speed and not just for Drupal knowledge, but all of the knowledge that they as a group possess and are more than willing to share. I will be able to build skills and do things that my safe job could never offer me. I will grow as a person and feed my brain a feast it has starved for for so long - ever since I was back in college debating anthropological theory at 2 a.m. - and I will have avenues to apply all of this to big things that can impact the world.
I would often muse about "those lucky few" that have jobs that inspired them. You read articles about these people that just love what they do and do amazing things in their life. It sounds great but I figured I had not followed the paths that would take me there (the road not taken and all) - and that was OK. Not everyone can have jobs they love. Well, it may sound bold, but this change in my life has moved me from a passive day-dreamer to a person with dreams flowing through me. I'm totally scared shitless, the ground has shifted and I'm free-falling but I LOVE my frickin job, the people I work with, the things we want to do and, above all, how ALIVE I feel. And THAT is worth the jump.