Today I’m starting my funemployment, a period where I normally recharge batteries after an intense time with a company or project. In past years, its been a month of skiing, or simply catching up on life’s admin.
But this time its different. This time its about changing what I do, not where I do it. My career’s found me in more and more management roles after a decade of web and mobile development. I have become distanced from creative energy and detached from a sense of measurable progress.
Its time to get hands-on again. To use some budding maker curiosity and rusty coding skills to explore projects, technologies and creative processes that that I’ve been watching develop from the sidelines. I’m digging in to 3D printing, quadcopters, Arduino, Processing and a whole host of languages and techniques.
Over the next 100 days, I’ll be getting involved in all kinds of new things, throwing myself into tools and techniques to see where I’m most likely to swim or to drown. I want the kind of discomfort and problem solving that only comes when you are way out of your depth and you need all of your guile to stay afloat.
And I’m not reaching for a singular outcome. I’m not hunkering down and executing on an existing idea. I’m exploring the process itself and trying to kick start creativity through quantity, not quality. If there’s one thing I learned from working in a VC backed startup, its that spreading your bets and experimenting is the only way to find real innovation.
“Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
Where’s this going? I don’t know. I’m not seeking clients or co-founders. I’m not seeking contracts. I’m just trusting the process and embarking on an adventure. I know if I revert to type and go with the skills I’ve been using, that I’ll relive a familiar pattern:
- Code for a while
- Open mouth
- Say something eloquently half-baked
- End up signing time sheets and managing a resourcing plan.
I want to break this cycle. So I have to dare to fail. To make a fool of myself. Try anything new.
I’m a goal oriented person, so it’s uncomfortable for me to set off on this journey without a defined destination. I’m not trying to become a mobile developer, or a THING-WITH-A-TITLE. But I do want to see where I’ve been, by tracking how I progress. Over the next 100 days, I’ll form a rough plan for the things I intend to explore and I’ll be keeping a kind of “ship’s log” here of my experiences. I’m even planning a dashboard to keep track of where I gravitated towards certain skills and technologies and where I got lost in the doldrums of distraction.
I am slightly worried that conducting this experiment in the open and sharing my creative output will inform what I choose to explore. I am keen to reach a tribe of others like me, but as I don’t know which tribe that will be, I’m wary of trying to “people please” in an effort to draw attention.
Curiosity is paramount. So occasionally, there’ll be nothing to show for my effort. Or my output will be so profoundly awful, that I’ll need to insulate my judgement from a clamour of opinion. It’s about the process. It’s about showing up and doing the work. So sometimes there won’t be a blog post and sometimes there’ll be an essay. And some days I’ll be in my dressing gown, mainlining Cheezy Düdlez and binging on the interwebz. Living the dream.
And at the end, I may never arrive. I may find I’ve spent 100 days with solder and GoLang and Arduino and the only thing I’ll have to show for it is a singed beard and a very empty social calendar. But there’s a lesson in that too.
By trusting the process I’ll still achieve a valuable creative outcome: a truer reflection of myself.