Remembering ‘Why?’

It is said you should start with ‘Why?’ Over the past few weeks I’ve gone through some drastic changes in my life. These events have forced me to stop and evaluate why I do what I do and if it all makes sense.

Please bear with me for a moment while I explain. About 2 and a half years ago I opened up a martial arts school in my home suburb. I’d been training in the art of Gracie Jiu Jitsu for almost 7 years, but I was tired of the constant 30 to 40 minute travel to (and then again from) the academy. I was a dedicated student however and I figured that if there were people like me living where I did that wanted to train, If I opened my own school I’d have training partners I could train with closer to home. This could then grow into a business and I could turn my hobby into my job.

Fast forward 2 and a half years and last week I closed the school down and turned it into something resembling a ‘jiu jitsu study group’. The plan of turning my hobby into a business soon meant that I had lost sight of the ‘why’ I opened it in the first place, the ability to train close to home. I was so wrapped up in the administration, marketing, teaching and everything else that goes along with running a school that I had forgetting to get some training in myself. It was a hard lesson to learn.

This has given me fresh eyes with which to look at the reasons why I first became a software developer. I didn’t do this because I want to have my website listed on a top 5 list or because I wanted to sell plugins or be able to say that ‘I was the lead developer on that big website’. I didn’t even do it to work with specific markets or sectors of industry. I became a software developer for the simple reason that I like writing, be it code, a technical document or a tutorial or a blog post. I’m not what I would call a ‘creative’, I can’t draw or design something to save my life. What I can do is develop software that solves a specific problem or write an article or tutorial that helps someone achieve a specific task.

The honest truth is that I shouldn’t be working as a freelancer. I should be working for a company, where I am simply a small cog in a bigger machine. I am not cut out for the administrative tasks that come along with working for yourself. I barely even remember to bill my clients sometimes. But the reality of my unique situation means that I cannot, at the moment, go and work full time for a company. And it means that I am also currently failing as a freelancer. So where does that leave me?

Well, as I did when I restructured my jiu jitsu school into a study group, I will share the same quote that defines my current state of mind.

In the words of Jocko Willink, “Get up… Dust off… Reload… Re-calibrate… REENGAGE… and go out ON THE ATTACK…”

Today I launched my Patreon at It is an attempt to re-calibrate myself and my development/writing services in such a way that I can continue to do what I love without the immediate need for fulfilling client requirements. In short I hope to build an audience of interested parties who are prepared to support me now for any plugins and tutorials I have already written or that I plan to release in the future. It will eventually mean that I can ditch the need to find client work and focus on what I do (pretty) well, write code and tutorials for others to use.

I trust you will consider supporting me.

UPDATE: So since launching this Patreon I’ve had some success with my plugin sales and I’ve decided to close the Patreon. The web development world isn’t yet ready for this kind of crowd funding. Since doing this I’ve noticed a few other developers are trying it out themselves, and I wish them well. I’ve just realised it’s not for me.






One response to “Remembering ‘Why?’”

  1. Mary Avatar

    I have to agree it is super important to remember why. I find myself knowing when to bow out and when to press further. I find myself knowing when i am not ready even if i want something so bad. Thank you Jonathan for sharing this with me, i have gotten different and new perspectives on handling issues that bother me. Thank you.

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