Mission: Lifestyle Income

I’m going to admit it. I don’t want to spend my life programming. It’s fun and interesting, but it’s not what I would call ultimately worthwhile. What I really want to do is learn, teach, grow in love, and raise a family. I think these are supremely good things for a human being to be doing.

None of the things that I really want to do are good ways to bring in income. It may be possible to make a living as a teacher, but it has too many downsides for me to be enthusiastic. Firstly, teachers are grossly undervalued and underpaid. Don’t get me started. This is one of my hot buttons. Secondly, I’m spoiled by high tech income. It’s tough to take an 70% pay cut. Thirdly, I don’t want to start skewing what and to whom I teach based on where I can churn up cash. I think that would be injurious to the love and joy I’d like to teach with.

Even though learning, teaching, and loving aren’t great ways to bring in money, that’s the way I want to spend my time. I’m a bit of an idealist that way. I don’t want to devote too much time to financing the whole affair. The blessing is that I have pretty simple tastes and a modest budget. I want to live in my community in Jerusalem, keep the kitchen stocked, and go out once in a while. I’d be perfectly happy with about $30k a year.

So what I’m left with is this puzzle: What’s the best way for a person like me – with solid skills in programming, design, analysis, and business – to make a modest income while spending only 4 hours a day on the job?

I think it’s all sorts of possible, and the idea of giving it a run is in itself exciting. It may not be the big hairy audacious goal that star-struck startupists are driven by, but it’s audacious in a different sense. I feel like I’ll be prototyping a sane and sustainable approach to a balanced, enjoyable, and fulfilling life. That’s pretty worthwhile – no?

Joy of the Job

I just spoke with a friend about the mission and structure of an organization he’s setting up. He floated a few ideas past me. On some of them, his eyes lit up and he almost jumped out of his seat. On others, he slumped in his seat, and looked as if he would much rather be somewhere else. Why would he even bother considering the latter? All sorts of external pressure – what he thinks the funders want, pressures from the other people mixed in to the organization, a nagging sense of what’s supposed to be done. All sorts of nonsense.

It’s going to take a whole lot of energy to make an organization work. Without excitement about what you’re doing, you’re dead in the water. When you’re planning out a business, excitement is the compass. When you’re running it, excitement is the gas. Maybe some people get excited about the money; I supposed such things are possible (if a bit twisted.) The best workers in any job are the ones who are excited about the job. Certainly, the leaders of a non-profit better be all sorts of excited about the mission and about the organization.

Other factors come in, for sure – you need to build an organization that can succeed, you need to keep up a good relationship with your funders, you need to build a team that can work well together. None of these things should be done in a way that squelches the excitement that the leaders of the organization have. If you allow that to happen, you’re hobbling the horse before it leaves the gate.