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Six month challenge to go pro

May 4th, 2010

Two Tuesday’s ago was a dreaded day at my workplace. My company decided to jump on the current fad that is known as layoffs. 700 of us would need to go. The direction given to employees the day before was to come in, sit at your desk, and wait for the call from 9-11 am. At 9:23 my phone rang and a chapter of my life abruptly ended. This probably sounds like a bad thing. Far from it…

As a software developer in “Corporate America” the work was rarely enjoyable and frankly completely devoid of any sense of real satisfaction by it’s nature. It involved endless hours of sitting idly and staring at a fixed distance. In retrospect, it is possible that the sitting idly part could have reflected negatively upon me. In any event, after 15 years of it, I definitely feel a change is and will be healthy. But change to what? Well, If you know me, you know that my interests and aspirations lie in woodworking and donkey training. Donkey training is a bear on the back so woodworking would seem the better fit.

So here’s the deal.  I’m giving myself 6 months to attempt to make and sell woodworking items, specifically keepsake boxes to start. At the end of this challenge I’ll evaluate whether there is any chance that I could do it for a living. If not, I’ll stow away my soul and find another software job (I’m making gagging sounds right now).

Initially, I plan to make keepsake boxes. A design I fell in love with was Rob Cosman’s wood hinge box. His instructional DVD on making the box is a perfect tutorial. I’ve emailed Rob to ask permission to start out making his style boxes for sale and he graciously permitted me to do so. At some point, I expect to have a fit of creativity and put my mark on things.

Contrary to my generally delusional mindset, I know the odds of this panning out are slim (like pick-4 slim). I’m also cognizant of the “grass is greener” mentality, meaning that when this hobby becomes a job I know some of the currently fun things may, and will, become not so fun things. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? So with that, I will now discard all remaining TPS reports and pick up my woodworking tools.

Things I look forward to during the challenge:

  • Working my hours. My sleep clock hasn’t worked in decades.
  • Pooping in private. I’ve never really enjoyed a good BM at work with feet atappin’ in the adjoining stall. In fact, the bathrooms at work broke every principle that should be observed in a proper bathroom (perhaps worthy of it’s own post).
  • Being active… the sedentary nature of my previous job was the worst. If you closed your eyes and just listened you could actually hear your arteries clogging from your last vending machine run.
  • Just being free from “Corporate America”. I no longer live in fear of HR!!! I can walk around my new workplace cursing like a sailor and slapping people on the ass (given that I’m the only employee I’ll have to get a little creative on that one).
  • Not being employee 013776 anymore. My entire adult life I have been a number, in the Navy and in a ginormous Fortune 500 company. Working for myself I expect to be recognized as employee of the month at least twice a year.

Things I do NOT look forward to during the challenge:

  • Arguing with the boss over what constitutes “extended Oprah breaks”
  • Removing dried glue from clamps more frequently
  • The hazing I am preparing to do to myself (everyone has to pay their dues)

My six month challenge shall commence on Cinco de Mayo which, so happens, is an observed holiday at my place of business (finally, a day off!). I do reserve the right to lay myself off anytime after 30 days, unconditionally and without notice if i haven’t sold one million dollars worth of boxes (Shhh, this isn’t true… I ‘m just managing expectations of myself… it’s a corporate motivational technique intended to induce anxiety and despair as soon as possible).

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  1. May 4th, 2010 at 21:20 | #1

    Be sure to put “Bosses’ Day” (October 16) on your calendar. I’m sure he’ll be expecting something. Good luck to you in your 6 month endeavor!!!!

  2. Mike Gray
    May 4th, 2010 at 22:26 | #2

    Don’t think this little “I’m going to make a career of it” routine is getting you out of making me a cutting board. I can’t wait to tell my parents they’re going to get wood from my friend from work.

    Hey, you were right, wood euphemisms are easy and fun!

  3. Ed
    May 4th, 2010 at 22:32 | #3

    I’m excited for you. We expect Progress reports frequently to determine whether you are on target for schedule and expense. ROI…you know what I’m sayin’? Perhaps you could track your work on an Excel Spread sheet and post it for review and action items.

  4. May 4th, 2010 at 22:43 | #4

    @The Village Carpenter
    Thanks Kari! And I have already marked Bosses day on my calendar. Plan on leaving him a fresh deuce on his desk. He deserves it.

  5. May 4th, 2010 at 22:55 | #5

    @Mike Gray
    No worries Mike, I will honor the commission (you are my first and as such will always hold a special place in my heart….. Ok, I’m over it). For commenting here with a wood euphemism I will make sure to give that cutting board my special touch (not a euphemism for rubbing my genitalia against it).

  6. May 4th, 2010 at 22:57 | #6

    @Ed
    You got it Ed. I’ll prepare monthly status which should appear every 1-18 months.

  7. May 5th, 2010 at 05:54 | #7

    Good luck to you, and keep us posted!

  8. May 5th, 2010 at 22:01 | #8

    If you ever feel nostalgic, try:
    -submit every tool through some corporate BS process (i.e. FOSS).
    -block all of your useful websites.

    That should cure the nostalgia.

  9. May 7th, 2010 at 06:26 | #9

    Good luck being your own boss, I am doing the same thing only under different circumstances, I will retire 7/1 and while I will indeed miss a lot of people I worked with and those in the group I managed, I WILL NOT miss the increasing amount of BS that seems to be increasing at an alarming rate….or maybe I am just getting old. I have 5 pretty good jobs lined up now…heading out to the shop now :) Let us know how it is going.

  10. May 10th, 2010 at 21:04 | #10

    @Rick
    Congrats Rick on your approaching retirement. Getting away from large company bureaucratic BS has been soooo refreshing. It is a complete joy not having to jump through those hoops anymore. I’m assumed the 5 jobs you have lined up are commissions. If so, that’s awesome!

  11. ed
    June 8th, 2010 at 10:15 | #11

    I don’t know how you plan on staying moral without annual Ethics trainings. Good luck.

  12. Bradley
    July 13th, 2010 at 15:13 | #12

    Good luck! About a year ago I found myself in a similar situation; it worked out for me! It can be done. :)

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