This is how I feel right now.
I’m taking a leap of faith, and I don’t have much runway. I’m in that pivotal moment where everything needs to be executed just right to avoid falling on my face.
I’m shedding a pair of golden handcuffs. I have a good job with fun work and good people, plus some paid travel. There are few things I could complain about during these last few years of employment. I love direct deposit. You have no idea. I love not having to worry about money. It just shows up. Magically and predictably.
Golden handcuffs are handcuffs nonetheless. It’s human nature to want to grow. Stagnation is the enemy of ambition. A plateau, no matter how high, is terrifying. It’s a ceiling. I could continue being content, or I could strive for more.
Generally, you can only go so far working for someone else. I’ve resisted entrepreneurship and justified my decision to remain a full-time employee, much to the dismay of my entrepreneur friends. I know my strengths and my weaknesses. I’m a builder. I make prototypes. I’m not a manager or an accountant or a salesman (well, I used to be, but I didn’t enjoy it). The force of inevitability, however, can eventually catch up with you. It can push you forward.
Seven months ago, I realized the path I needed to go down. Everything was pushing in the same direction. I needed to specialize the work I do, instead of just being a guy who makes stuff move with code. I needed to branch out, and work with more clients and more visible clients. I needed to establish myself within my industry. I wanted to travel more and farther. What I needed and wanted was looking less and less like a full-time job.
I am extremely fortunate to have a rare and valuable skill set. By blending visual and technical thinking, I can create compelling interactive visual experiences. Not only is there money in what I am good at, but I enjoy doing it. However, I need to be very tactful about where I apply my abilities. I could easily tie up all my waking hours building interactive web sites for people, but that won’t make the type of impact I want.
My goal right now is to ride a wave.
Five years ago, I became interested in data visualization as a hobby. Since then, I’ve followed the industry and have noticed a wave coming. More developers are getting involved, more tools are being built, and more people and businesses are learning what data visualization is. I don’t have to be the first, and I don’t have to be the best. But if I’m one of the first and one of the best, I’ll get on top early and ride the wave. After a year of conceptualizing and building various data visualizations professionally, I know what I should be focusing on exclusively.
To a worm in horseradish, the world is horseradish. Data visualization has become my horseradish.
I’m starting my own business. I’m specializing in data visualization. And for lack of a better term, I’m going to “Crush It”.
More information and announcements soon!
UPDATE: Progress Report: The Free Fall