It’s been awhile since an update here about my professional journey and, as for most people, the year 2021 has been one for the books. In February of this year I made the tough decision to resign from my position at Codeable and see where the world would take me next, and 7 months later I’m feeling really really good about that although much is still unknown. I’m still getting fairly frequent messages from colleagues about what I’m doing as I’ve been mostly quiet about the changes in my life so this post is for those wonderful people who really care and also for myself to help chart my path forward.
Working from my Computer from Anywhere
This was always my goal, since I was just a techy kid, that I could work from my computer from anywhere and that would afford me the life I wanted to live. I accomplished that goal just a couple years after college when I took my startup marketing agency PageLadder to full remote work after realizing our fancy office was only an image thing, and the value of enabling myself and all our employees the freedom to live their lives and manage their time the way they wanted by working remotely.
As this dream came true I found myself working hard on my computer to afford myself time for myself to be alone as well as with friends pursuing my passions outside work, and I snowboarded my brains out, never missing a powder day.
As I got older, particularly 30 years old, the dream began to fall apart a bit… with the toll of computer work beginning to creep up on me. Despite living a relatively active lifestyle… things like years of bad posture and screen time took it’s toll on my body and injuries and mental and physical health issues started creeping out of the woodwork. Not stuff that blue light glasses alone can fix. The physical injuries like spinal issues, blown out knees, and weak muscles and bones that break were more obvious indicators of the lifestyle I had chosen. Hidden behind those physical injuries, mental wear in the form of burnout was looming and effecting my endurance to withstand daily work struggles and stay my positive self that my colleagues knew me for. I found myself more cynical, more jaded, and less enthusiastic about the work I was doing to help people like me grow. I found it never more true that your health is the most important thing, because without your health you have nothing. if you can’t help yourself then you can’t help others.
I left Codeable suddenly and quietly. I left the generous powder day allowance I had there. It’s an amazing company that I dedicated almost 6 years of my life. I met so many amazing people and had relationships with almost everyone in the space and have so much to be thankful for in my time working there. I still believe in the company and the WordPress community and want nothing but the very best for everyone there on staff and the entire community of WordPress experts I watched grow just like I did.
Leaving Codeable wasn’t about making a stink about why I was not happy or healthy but rather in pursuit of a new direction with my personal and professional life. At the time I resigned I felt I’d left a positive mark on the company and WordPress community that would last a long time. I felt I’d given all I had and it was time for me to pursue something else that I could help myself and others continue to be healthy and grow. This isn’t a post about burnout, but I had without a doubt burned out and that was hard for me to come to terms with but it’s real I can assure you that.
I’m ever thankful for all the people I worked with over those 6 years at Codeable and the over 10 years in the WordPress community. I have a few side projects with WordPress I’ve been working on to stay in the game there and not waste my experience and expertise.
Where do I go now?
I snowboard like crazy. After resigning I bought another new snowboard and spent 3 months doing pretty much only that. I did not work for 3 months and digged deeply into what little savings I had relentlessly pursuing my biggest passion of being in the mountains. My wonderful girlfriend who is a health professional and avid skier and mountaineer has been an amazing blessing in my life the past year and for that I am so thankful for.
So where do we go? Montana. My girlfriend and I have a shared love for Canada, but since the pandemic the border has been shut down so we’ve never actually been there together. At one point last summer Codeable forced me to take a week off from work and I was traveling in my van fly fishing and burning camp fires. I met some river rafting hippies who told me I should drive to Montana and I did and discovered Glacier National Park and Whitefish Montana… and came to discover that Montana is the new Canada. When I met my girlfriend I convinced her of this revelation and after a few trips out, long story short, we found ourselves moving from Washington State to Montana. Gotta go East to go West these days.
Moving to Montana
Moving to Montana with no jobs, nowhere to live in a tough housing market, and no real savings was a leap of faith. Anyone who knows me or my snowboarding style knows that leaps of faith are my comfort zone. It took a lot of blind optimism that as of this day I’m still riding that hard.
We moved to Whitefish, Montana a beautiful little ski town, perhaps the last best place. And after months of lots of time to spend and not earn I needed to start working again but was not ready to get back in the tech game yet. I ended up scoring a seasonal job this summer at Whitefish Mountain Resort as a Bike Patroller. Think ski patrol, only for the mountain bike park on the mountain. We also lucked out on a nice little one bedroom apartment only 10 minutes down the hill from the ski lifts. Although we absolutely cannot wait for the snow the fly and winter to come, summer has been out of a dream for me. Getting to help my local community on the mountain everyday at work has been unreal. I ride my little motorcycle up the hill to work, stoked, and ride it home just as stoked to get home to my dog and girlfriend to tell them both about all the action on the hill that day. It’s been the most amazing cure for my mental and physical health I could ever ask for working on the mountain with like minded people. Oh, and I won’t even begin to talk about the beautiful fish I’ve been catching in my spare time. Montana’s fisheries are a model for how rivers should be managed and it’s been that way for a long time, catchable fish per mile of river are very high and the lakes are oh so clean and beautiful.
Where I’m Going
Nowhere fast. I really love how things are shaping up in my life here in Montana and I can see myself being happy here for some time to come. Leaving my computer work to work actively in mountain operations is something I never saw myself doing. One of my first weekends on patrol the mountain manager joined me on a chairlift to the summit and told me his story about making it in the ski industry to where he is now as the big boss at the mountain, it was inspirational. Job satisfaction is 10 out of 10 but I also still have ambitions to not waste my education and experience in tech and also need to earn, save and invest in my future. The seasonal job I took has more than helped me recover from burnout but the job is seasonal so I am looking at what’s next. I earned a “Bike Park Rookie of the Year” award which was my proudest moment in a long time from my dedication to work this summer. It’s on the fridge now.
The people I’ve met on the mountain this summer have been critical to my journey and I hope I can forever be involved in mountain operation wherever I choose to call my home mountain for years to come and stay healthy doing so.
What About My Computer
I’m writing this post on a Late 2013 MacBook Pro… the same laptop I’ve used for almost 10 years. I will always have a passion for computers and technology and how it enables people like me to live a wonderful life like the one I’ve lived so far. But in taking a step back I need to refresh everything about how I use computers to afford the lifestyle I really want to live day by day.
I’m not sure exactly what that looks like yet. Side projects are just that, side projects and anyone who has them knows they rarely take off and afford the time they require. I do see myself re-entering the tech space sooner or later but I’m not so sure it will look like my last 10 years in tech and WordPress specifically with the various roles I’ve had. I really did enjoy my work in partnerships specifically and WordPress generally but when it comes down to it, work is work. A reasonable exchange of time and dedication for money, it’s what you do for money. In my previous roles I’ve helped myself and countless other afford better vacations and meals on the tables with those they love, although rather indirectly.
At this point I come to think how I can help more people with my experience to live better lives more directly. When I think that way I think about health. I constantly was seeing my colleagues suffer from the same issues I had by pounding keyboards all day and wished I could do more.
I don’t know what is next.
I’m told I have a job at the mountain if I want it this year most likely which is awesome. Just today my boss who was using a chainsaw helping me build a new trail on the mountain told me he got some good news. I told him that’s great, good news. He said the good news was that he heard I applied to work on the mountain this winter. It’s a good feeling when your boss who is working hard beside you appreciates you personally like this.
The question becomes if I can afford to continue working a job that gives me health and happiness but at the same time pushes off the security and stability of a career putting my past education and expertise to real use. As we can imagine, a “career” in the ski industry is no easy feat. That, we shall continue to ponder and “work” on… Thanks for reading and fish on!