It’s Good to be Home (#7 of 52)

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A Saturday post on an actual Saturday – madness!

Last week was hectic – pretty much a repeat of the week before. The second half of my first-ever full-time on-site consulting gig drew to a close, but not before leaving me with a task list a mile long. It turns out that delegation really is an important part of building a business – including delegation to my future self (or I’d go insane).

At least I’m home now! Slept in my own bed last night, which was glorious. Overslept, really.

So it should come as no surprise that my habit tracking went to shit again over the last week. It’s pretty obvious to me now that maintaining these habits does require a bunch of external inputs (namely, being home every morning), and it further diminishes the notion that I’ll take up digital vagrancy at any point in the future.

At least I recovered from that gastro bug, which was no fun at all.

The last week also presented me with an opportunity that I’m now seriously considering: Taking on a full-time role at the company I consulted, to help them fix their IT and systems, helping them get to the next level.

In many ways it’s my dream job – it won’t last forever, I’ll have a meaningful remit, the authority to implement the changes that make sense, and I’ll walk away from it with quite a lot to show. For the first time, I’ve got tangible validation that my skillset is, in fact, pretty rare – and I’ve now got an opportunity to really use it.

It’s also causing a massive internal debate, once again ripping up the floorboards of all my assumptions.

On the one hand, as a career move it makes total sense. Pushing out and establishing myself as an independent consultant here will pay huge dividends well into the future. The job itself is challenging, but not impossible. The tradeoffs may well be manageable, too, and it’s likely to open up new career paths and opportunities in the future.

But on the other hand: Do I really want to do this?

A big part of leaving full-time employment was specifically to push myself into new areas of personal growth. All things considered, this job wouldn’t really be that much of a push – it’s something I’m good at, and can do at length, but it won’t be as personally challenging as a total career change.

Doing this well (and establishing those new opportunities for myself down the road) will only serve to further draw me away from the reasons I quit this world in the first place. Five years hence, I’ll find myself doing the same things I was doing five years ago, and again I’ll feel disappointed at my lack of taking actual risks.

I recognize that I’m really lucky to even be in this position: Openly debating whether or not to take a potentially career-defining job, over doing something completely unrelated for a career. But I’m also the one that has to wake up and do this job every single day, and at some point I also have to consider what I want for myself.

Nothing’s been decided yet, other than the fact that I’m thinking through all of this very carefully. In the end, I doubt I’ll walk away from the opportunity – it’s more likely that I’ll deliberately carve out the time for the things I really want to try.

Everything else in the last week has really just been implementation details. I’ve once again found myself hand-rolling a 2-tier analytics and reporting stack, purely because rolling out any of the free tools would have added far more complication too early in the process:

Most of my week in one simple diagram

Question: How do you link records between two systems when no correlation or shared key already exists? Answer: You create a system that goes hunting across two databases, following ever-broadening match rules in an attempt to best-guess what those correlations should be. A solid week of my life for the first version of that.

I’ve also regained an appreciation for communication as a skill. It’s actually pretty important that people talk to each-other, and not past each-other. The latter is how you end up with organizations that make absolutely no sense.

Finally, I’m continually vindicated of my decision to leave full-time employment. We’re about 10 weeks away from my 1-year anniversary, and a part of me was worried that I’d come to regret the decision to leave. So far, no such luck.

Other than that, not too much to report. I’m doing badly on my reading goals – Best Dick is still on my reading list, and I haven’t touched it for at least two weeks. I’m at least keeping up with 1 post per week on blogging, even though the goal was 3 per.

Mostly I’m still trying to manage an escalating-workload situation. A big part of my paranoia thus far has been the upcoming CIT payment, and to what extent that’s going to eat into my cash buffer. At one point I was within striking distance of having a 6-month buffer built up, but that’s about to be wrecked. I just hope the damage isn’t too bad.

I’m also dealing with the growth question – and if I want to do any of that at all. It goes against everything in my nature to see a problem I can solve, and then walk away from it – but I’ll have to start doing that in order to maintain my sanity. I’m confident I could spend the rest of my life fixing things and getting rewarded for it, while never managing to pursue the things I’ve wanted to do since I was a child.

Or maybe now is the right time to accept that not all dreams come true, and go with what’s actually around me.

Like I said – hectic week.


New episode of The Noscript Show came out today. We missed a lot of international tech topics in the pursuit of dealing with local issues, the peak one being loadshedding – and how we absolutely shouldn’t have had to deal with it.

The Helderberg Dev Meetups were postponed last week (bad scheduling) but are back on as of the 19th. I’m still not sure whether or not I’m preparing anything for it, but I’m looking forward to a relaxed evening of chilled conversation.

In the coming week it’s back to something resembling business-as-usual, as I attempt to negotiate an exit path for a project that’s dragged on far too long, and start onboarding my second (!) part-time freelancer. I guess this is how we all learn!

My 2019 reading list

One of my 2019 goals is to read more. The intent is to spend at least 30 minutes/day reading, and I’ve set up a target on my Goodreads profile to hit at least 25 books in 2019 – that’s one book every two weeks, which is totally doable.

I got my old Kindle all charged up, and the first thing I did (after linking my Goodreads account) was to integrate all my Amazon Kindle purchases. It turns out I’ve bought quite a few books over the years that I haven’t yet read. All told, there’s 48 books on my to-read list at the moment (of the 130-odd in my Kindle library). A bit more than 25, but then I do love a challenge 🙂

These are all the books I plan to have read before the year is out. And if I can get through one book per week (should be completely doable on weekends) I may even add a few more.

History and Politics (9)

  • The Dictator’s Handbook – Bruce Bueno De Mesquita
  • People’s War – Anthea Jeffery
  • On Tyranny – Timothy Snyder
  • Algorithms of Oppression – Safiya Umoja Noble
  • Countdown – Alan Weisman
  • Democracy for Realists – Christopher H. Achen
  • The Coddling of the American Mind – Jonathan Haidt
  • Who owns the future? – Jaron Lanier
  • The Death of Expertise – Tom Nichols

Psychology, Philosophy and Self Improvement (7)

  • Games People Play – Eric Berne
  • Atomic Habits – James Clear
  • Wisdom of Insecurity – Alan W. Watts
  • Zero Excuses – Gabriel Machuret
  • How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big – Scott Adams
  • Solving the Procrastination Puzzle – Timothy A. Pychyl
  • Bowling Alone – Robert Putnam

Business and Startups (6)

  • How to Measure Anything – Douglas W. Hubbard
  • The Best Dick – Mike Sharman
  • Traction – Gabriel Weinberg
  • Drive – Daniel H. Pink
  • The 7 Day Startup – Dan Norris
  • The Innovator’s Dilemma – Clayton M. Christensen

Science Fiction / Fantasy (12)

  • Split Second – Douglas E. Richards
  • Why You Were Taken – JT Lawrence
  • 3001: The Final Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke
  • Darknet – Matthew Mather
  • Project Northwoods – Charles J. Bruce
  • Arrival – Ryk Brown
  • BrainWeb – Douglas E. Richards
  • Failsafe – Daniel Gage
  • Silo 7 – Daniel Gage
  • AfroSF – Ivor W. Hartmann
  • Departure – A. G. Riddle
  • A Scanner Darkly – Philip K. Dick

Writing Craft (14)

  • How to Write Short Stories – James Scott Bell
  • How to be an Author – Ashton Cartwright
  • Write to Market – Chris Fox
  • How to Write Faster – Marcy Kennedy
  • Writing Deep Point of View – Rayne Hall
  • The 7 Secrets of the Prolific – Hillary Rettig
  • She Sat He Stood – Ginger Hanson
  • The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction – C.S. Lakin
  • How to Write Dazzling Dialogue – James Scott Bell
  • Super Structure – James Scott Bell
  • Story Climax – H.R. D’Costa
  • Techniques of the Selling Writer – Dwight V. Swain
  • Rock Your Plot – Cathy Yardley
  • Write. Publish. Repeat. – Sean Platt

I think you can tell by that last, largest category that I’m really interested in being a writer 😉

My progress will be tracked on my Goodreads profile – Kindle makes it really easy to flag which book you’re reading. Now it’s just about finding the time to sit down and do the reading.

If you’re doing a reading challenge this year, let me know!