Entrepreneurial Hiatus May 2013

I started out as an opportunist. It’s what the ambitious kids did to cope in the desert of opportunity that we now call the suburbs. When you are ambitious and motivated, but grow up with the view that you might some day be lucky enough to get a job, and if you are even luckier, a career, you take every opportunity you can to go to meetups, networking events, and coffee meetings. You see that opportunity is rare, and you chase it like a cat chases a cockroach.

But once you are successful in your hunt for opportunity, at some point you cross a boundary where there is more opportunity than you have time to take advantage of. For me, this occurred in my career when I suddenly found myself with a skill that was highly in demand. It occured in my lifestyle when I moved to a city that was vibrant with young, ambitious people: there were suddenly more meetups and happy hours than I had ever had access to before. The philosophy of opportunism that gained me success in a desert of opportunity translated to a fear of missing out in the new context of abundant opportunity.

As I left my full time job, I found myself immersed with many more opportunities, each seeming too good to turn down. I was terrified that I might never come across such a great opportunity again and blinded by the novelty of what life could be like if I just accepted an offer. I was exhausting myself trying to do everything.

Then I had an epiphany. I realized that none of the opportunities were interesting to me. What once energized me was now draining. Upon realizing this, I went through a period of apathy. I felt lost - like I no longer had any ambition left and wasn’t sure what to do with myself. But this period quickly passed as my mind was freed to discover what my true passions were.

Once I let go of my imprisoning obsession with following an industry that I didn’t even know why I wanted to be a part of, I began to discover what my true passions were. I discovered that I’m fascinated by quality of life, urban planning, pedestrianism, bicycle commuting, and lifestyle design. I realized how far the Western world has come in terms of quality of life improvement, but also how far it has to go.

I now feel invigorated to help move our population forward in improvement to quality of life, health, and happiness. I better understand where quality of life comes from and how to create it. I understand now that I don’t want to build some fancy analytics engine, I want to help more of the population integrate pedestrianism and health into their lives. I want to help people eat healthy, to have more friends, better friends, to live longer, and to have better sex lives.

When the time is right, I will re-engage in my ambitious venture-building state. It may not be for another two years, or perhaps another ten years, but when I do, I will be at an appropriate point in life and be able to commit fully. Had I tried to engage in a venture now, it would have been misguided and half-assed. I might have put 150% of my energy into it, but I would have burned out and probably gone in some direction tangent to where my true passion lies. I needed the psychological distance and hiatus from my career to rediscover my true passions, and I think this was one of the healthiest decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life.