The Road Ahead

Swirly Bench. Er. Stairs. I Meant Stairs.
Over the last few years, I’ve slowly been enjoying my day job less and less. It went in one direction as I went in another. Still, it was a decent source of monthly income, and while it was challenging work, on one level it was at least easy to keep on doing it, day after day.

But it’s difficult to ignore the issue when seven hours of every day is spent doing something you’re just not that fond of, even if the people are nice and you can get the boat to work.

So, a while back, I started digging around to find some more personally-interesting bits of the programming trade. First, I started learning about the web (although I was at university at just the right time to see the web kicking off, I went straight into the back offices of the finance industry when I graduated, and so haven’t touched it much.)

The web stuff led to a bit of work for my friend Benjohn, who makes Get Running (and also got me started jogging, but that’s another story.)

Long story short, I’ve spent a fair bit of my free time retraining myself, learning about HTML, PHP, CSS, XML, JSON and all the other acronyms and abbreviations with which the web likes to surround itself. On top of that, I’ve done odd jobs like designing icons for iPhone apps (I did the Sun Scout icon, and all its little suns, too. Not bad for a first attempt, I thought…) and familiarised myself with a whole bunch of different tools.

But doing all this stuff on top of a day job, as well as keeping up all the weird and wonderful spare-time things I like to do (from taking up photography to interviewing people for the BBC!) has left me pretty much exhausted and anxious and lacking in time to unwind.

So. Enough is enough, I thought. Part of my long-term strategy was to save up a chunk of rainy-day money, and I recently decided to declare now as my rainy day.

I have therefore quit my day job. This may seem a foolhardy move during a recession, but it was either that or lose my sanity, I think. As of a couple of weeks ago, the 21st September, I am no longer slaving away at a corporate desk writing complicated SQL queries and calculating loss ratios.

Where do I go from here? Well, first of all, more education. For the next few months, I plan to throw myself into a crash course on mobile app development. I’ve got lots of excellent resources lined up, from books like Tapworthy and The Big Nerd Ranch’s Guide to iOS Programming to Harvard Extension School’s E‑76 course (available online as a set of video lectures. Their E‑75 was brilliant, so I have high hopes for E‑76…)

Now, that’s not all I’ll be doing — I’d probably go stir-crazy learning on my own at home for too many days in a row — so I’m sure there will be more of my usual spare-time weirdness cropping up. Last week I took a couple of days to put together my first Arudino project, for example, and I’m sure other whims will arrive. And I will have to make some attempts to socialise; my longest conversation today was with the lovely Fran at Boston Tea Party, and I think we made it to five sentences.

But the good news is, for a while at least, I have seven extra hours in the day, and my weird spare-time projects should at last have some real spare time to be done in. And maybe I’ll have a bit more time to blog about them, too…

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  1. Liz Crew
    October 5, 2011

    Good on you, Matt.
    It’s a brave step to take at any point in life.
    Having done it myself a couple of years ago, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t regret it.
    Very best of luck (not that you’ll need it, methinks).

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