I've noticed lately that I start to feel a great deal of anxiety in my spare time. It's every bit as ridiculous as it sounds. Let me explain the typical day.
I get up, go to work, and do work stuff. Work stuff recently changed with a new position, but suffice it to say that I'm still doing Microsoft stuff. I think I'm going to really enjoy the job and people. I roll into work around 8 or so (a little later if I don't take the Connector), and I typically leave a little after 4. I'm home by 5 if traffic allows, and I get to spend some time with Simon for an hour or two. I wish it was more, but he goes to bed when he get tired.
So by 7, I'm certifiably in the spare time zone for about four hours. My first instinct is to sit down at a computer and bang out some code for one of my many projects. I worry a lot about whether or not I'm spending enough time on that stuff, for two reasons. The first is that my little business requires time to maintain itself. If I had no ambition to make it into something more, it would still require time to maintain. That extra income has saved my ass during unemployment (I haven't collected unemployment in ten years, despite periods of non-work), it helped me dig out of debt and it finances my gadget habit. The second reason I worry about it is because, somewhere deep down, I think it could be more. I don't even know what that means, but that bug was put into my head in '08.
For a few weeks, after getting laid-off from Insurance.com, I worked for a guy who ran a small consulting firm. He promised me lots of cash and a killer project to work on. Unfortunately, that business never came his way, and he couldn't pay me to do nothing. But he had a parting conversation with me about my future. I mostly thought he was full of shit, especially listening to him talk to clients on the phone, but this stuck with me. He said, "I fully expect that one day you'll come up with a good idea, and you'll never work for anyone again."
I think he might have been right, but I'm not sure that I necessarily want that. At least, not right now. Working for The Man is actually a lot of fun, for the first time in years. My entrepreneurial endeavors are accidental in the first place. But more importantly, I fear that spending too much time on this stuff makes me dull and one-dimensional.
I have a very diverse set of interests. There are so many things that I want to do, many of them kind of half-started. I want to make a film. I want to read more. I want to write more, maybe even another book. I want to learn to love my bicycle again. I want to travel more. I want to sit on my ass and play video games. I don't want to be the dull person who uses spare time exclusively for the side business.
There is one other motivating factor, I think, and that's the idea that working harder on the business will lead to greater long-term financial comfort, which means a house and a yard for my little family, and that will make me happier. But I know that's bullshit. I'm having some of the happiest times of my life today with Simon and Diana, as things stand today.
I've got pretty solid life-work balance today, and I need to avoid turning the life part of that into a secondary category of work. I have to better engage in all of the things I enjoy, not just the mini-entrepreneur story.