How can I transition from a programming career to a more laid-back, independent lifestyle?
August 9, 2008 4:13 PM Subscribe
I want to quit the corporate world, grow a head full of dreadlocks, make a living selling handmade beads, and just kind of...hang out
, y'know? How do I do that?
posted by greenie2600 to work & money (24 answers total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
Okay, I'm exaggerating, but here's the deal. I'm a smart and successful web developer, but I've been working white-collar computer jobs since I graduated from high school (I'm 31), and I'm seriously burnt out on it. I'm passionate about web technology, and I'm pretty damn good at it, but I'm a hacker in the classical mold, and the corporate/business world is poison to me. I've been trying to make it work for over a decade, and it just doesn't. It's slowly killing me—I honestly feel like I'll be dead at 50 if I don't make a change.
I'd like to switch to a completely different line of work—something not in an office, maybe even something outdoors; something relatively independent and/or low-pressure and/or with a flexible schedule, which leaves me with enough enough freedom and energy to pursue, y'know, a life. I've always had a very strong work ethic and sense of personal responsibility, but I'm ready to be an irresponsible, unproductive parasite on society, at least for a few years. (I'd be maintaining my technical skills during this time; part of the reason I want to do this is so I can enjoy computers again.)
I'm willing to tighten the belt a bit to make this happen, and I don't have any debt or other significant obligations. But—here's the problem—I can't think of any line of work that doesn't involve a huge (i.e., crippling) reduction in pay. I'm making a decent salary as a programmer, but computers are all I really know. I'd be climbing any other career ladder from the bottom—and anyway, the whole point is that I don't want a career. I picture myself working in a bookstore, or a greenhouse, or something like that—and, of course, that's gonna be shit pay.
(For what it's worth: I'm great with writing/editing, I have a natural head for science, and I enjoy both. I'd be okay with something more career-y in those areas, I think.)
So, yeah—it's the classical dilemma of the Starving Artist. I feel like I have to choose between financial viability and my soul. I want freedom, but I don't want to starve.
So I'm just looking for general advice on how to make this happen. Suggestions of jobs that are worth looking into? Anecdotes from personal experience on this path? A third path between the two extremes I've described? Anything? I need a plan.