If you don’t want to be the best in the world at web development, why do it?

Festival stage crowd with colored powder

If I don’t want to be the best in the world at web development, why am I doing it? This is a question that Seth Godin brought up in his book, The Dip. The obvious answer would be that it is just a job to pay the bills. Which in some sense is true. When I started out doing web dev, it was mainly to have a career to pay the bills, while I focused on a more passionate project. But I’ve found a lot of passion inside of web development. I’ve found that it’s given me alot of freedom. Someone said that even if you don’t like your job (which I do like my job) then you can like the things that the job gives you. What are some things that web development gives me?

Things that web development gives me:

  • freedom to make videos and blog posts about my career, helping me to grow and to share my experience (though of course, this is possible in any career or entrepreneurial venture)
  • tools to help other people grow their businesses
  • freedom to live anywhere I want in the world, and to even travel to any place I want in the world for an indefinite period of time – like when I went to stay with Jan in Hawaii.

Seth Godin talks about being the best in the world, in his book The Dip. It is something that I found curious. He talks about being the best, and in my brain, I feel discomfort with that. I realized that I have always consciously and subconsciously told myself that I’m not going to be the best in the world. It feels too unattainable. And with good reason, since there are so many of us on the world. However, I do think this kind of mindset is a limiting belief. But I think that being the best in the world is something that you can easily want – IF you’re doing the right thing for you. If you really have a dream of doing something that provides you with the VISION you have for your life, and to create your idea of paradise, then being the best of the world is not something you want to shy away from at all. It’s something you want to dive headfirst towards.

Perks of web development

One fun thing about web development and freelancing is a thing that Dain Miller of Start Here FM talked about – which is that the amount of progress you make is directly proportional to how much work you want to put it. If you want to get better, the possibilities are endless. I’ve listenting to Gary Vee lately also, and I just bought his book Crush It. He talks about social media marketing alot. It shows me that there are many ways to improve yourself as a freelancer – but also in any career or endeavor. We all have the ability to show who we are, and devleop ourselves in our field in many different ways.

There are many fun directions to go in web development. The question I am asking myself is – “is this the place where I want to put all of my focus to excel, or is this a cul-de-sac for me?”. Computers and programming have so much opportunity for expansion. There is definitely enough room for me to grow here. But I always came into this thinking that it was going to be a way for me to earn money while I found my real passion.

How to find your passion. How to do work that doesn’t feel like work

Finding a passion has been difficult for me. It seems that it comes easier for some and harder for others. I tried all of these different majors in college, always searching for the thing that was going to bring me joy in life. I guess I had gotten it into my head since a young age that you want to be doing something you love. After all, this is pretty much a cliche term. Do what you love. Some people say that it’s not good advice, that you want to do something that pays you well – while others say that doing something you love is the most important, and the money will follow when you can find your passion. Some even say that if you do what pays well, you’ll learn to love it with time.

What would be the next steps to take in a career, to find out if you want to continue with something or not? I’ll try to list some below:

Steps to take / questions to see if you should continue down a career path

Ask yourself “Where is this leading to?”

With web development, where is this leading to? What is my long-term vision, and how does this career fit in? What is my idea of paradise, and how is this career helping me to get there? In my case, I do enjoy certain web development projects very much. I often wake up and am excited to begin working. But it’s not quite something that I would do for free, and it’s not something that I do as a hobby, or in my spare time, and it’s not something that I would consider a form of relaxation. Gary Vee was saying in Crush It that when you find something that really suits you – then work, play, relaxation, and fun are all the same thing. You want to keep working on your business, because that’s the most fun for you. When you have that kind of power, you can just keep going and going, and you will reach where you want to go.

What other areas would I rather be putting time into?

It’s hard for me to find other areas that I am willing to put time into. It feels like I have so much traction now as a web developer, and I like seeing myself make progress. I like writing blogs and making videos, even if they’re not getting that many views now. It’s not something that I have been putting my full focus into, so I’m not upset that the channels are not really taking off. But are there other areas where I would like to put my focus, that could take off in a better way?

I’ve been wanting to start a business selling physical products for many years. I have had reasons for not starting this yet. It is mainly because I am spending time working on other stuff. I also have wanted to DJ professionally for many years, but in the same vein, it’s hard to continue down this path, because I’m busy with other stuff. Like right now, for example, I am writing this blog about what to do in my career, rather than try these other ideas. Why am I doing that? I do enjoy to write about this. I am thinking about it so much. But surely, taking some action in another area that I am interested in would be a good way to see if that’s a path I want to go down? It just feels like I don’t have enough desire to work on DJing, or selling physical products, to make the kind of money I can easily make now as a web developer.

Why am I not putting more focus into those other areas?

I think this is actually a common trap that people get into. They get into a career that they dont like (not saying that I don’t like web development, because I actually do like it very much) and then the money is “too good for me to quit”. It makes sense. It’s rational. We have a quality of life and we don’t want to give that up. Or in my case, the job gives me both the quality of life and the freedom to do things that I want -namely to travel, and to live in new places all the time. Additionally, it pays so well that I am able to move towards my financial goals, like retireing early, and buying rental properties as other forms of investment.

What is my idea of paradise, and how does this career lead into that?

In summary, when I think of my idea of paradise, I picture myself not in front of the computer doing web development. I think of myself DJing my favorite music at music festivals. I picture myself selling my backpacks and clothing that I’ve designed and made, as a vendor at music festivals. Ever since I first went to a music festival when I was 17, and was working as a security guard there – I always said to myself that this would be the best job in the world. This was the first time I had the experience of knowing that something would be the ultimate fun career, and then still not thinking that the option to get into it was a good idea. And maybe it wasn’t at the time. Maybe it was a better idea to do the path that I did – and end up as a web developer. If nothing else, this career is a ticket to explore every other career or entreprenurial option that I would like. It’s total freedom. I can work as long as I want, I can make lots of money, and I can have the startup capital to try and continue my venture. It’s like Michael Ellsberg says in The Education of Millionaires, you want to get financially stable, so it’s possible for you to work on your ventures. It’s something that reminds me of what Gary Vee said when he was on A-Rod’s Podcast: You should work for a company and get paid $0 if it’s somewhere you really want to go, just to get your foot in the door.

Is the “wrong” path a mistake? Or is it a chance for you to find the right path?

Walking down a road that’s not leading towards a goal doesn’t have to be a mistake. It can be a path leading in the same direction as your goal.

Did I make a mistake going for this career? I don’t think so. It was really a strategic plan to give me the freedom that I now have. I didn’t expect to get it this fast – Even though it wasn’t even that fast, it’s been almost 3 years since the start – but I am here now. And I should focus on trying out things that can get me to the vision that I want to achieve. I want to find the things that I love to do so much, that I really WANT to be the best in the world at them. Being the best web developer in the world sounds cool in a way, but it’s not the kind of thing that really makes me burn with passion and really makes me want to get to that thing at the end of the tunnel. I want to keep revisiting my idea of paradise, and use that as a compass to point me in the direction I want to go.

If you’re not the best in the world, does that mean you’re mediocre?

If you’re not the best in the world, are you mediocre? Certainly feels a little like that after reading Seth Godin’s The Dip, but I don’t agree with that fully. There is a bell curve of talent, and you can still be on the upper half of it, even if you’re not the best. You may not be making 100x more money, which you would if you were the best, but you can still be providing a valuable service to people in the market who need someone at your price level. I think having a career that you like alot is a good step in the right direction. Especially as a freelance developer, it’s a position for you to be in that gives you lots of possiblities. I don’t think I need to feel like I’m not valuable here, or as if people shouldn’t want to hire me, just because I don’t want to be the best in the world in this field. I am still committed to creating excellent web products for my customers. But I do want to move myself towards something where I really feel like I can be the best in the world.

And maybe that will end up being something within the field of web dev. After all, DJing and sewing are mostly just existing as ideas in my head, not as actual things in practice. But again – as Seth Godin said, why even start these, if you’re not going to get through the Dip? It’s always fun at first. Even as a DJ, there is a Dip. There is a period of pain and hard work that you have to lean into, that you have to force yourself through and work through, in order to get where you want to go. I think its valuable advice. Everything seems very exiting at the beginning, and the excitement dives down a deal when we hit the Dip. If we can keep our vision in mind at the end of the tunnel, it should be possible for us to perservere through the dip, because we have a real extravagant future and dreams on the other side, that we are GOING to fulfill.

Think about it – wouldn’t it be worth going through the dip, as a person sewing physical products, or as a DJ, if on the other side, I could be DJing at festivals and selling my products as a vendor at festivals? I wouldn’t even have to stop doing web development – I could just do it as much as was fun for me. That is my vision of my future. I want to have that dream that I have been dreaming of for years and years. I have been putting it aside for a long time, and I think for good reason. I wanted to be financially stable, and doing something that I actually did enjoy, and that actually was giving me skills – not just a job that wasn’t leading me anywhere. I have that now, and it’s an excellent opportunity to move forward. This is a happy time.

I think it’s been hard to see because my head is always down, focusing on what to do next. But my parents always say that I’m in an amazing position. I think they’re right, and I am glad to be able to just see that. Take advantage now, while I have the chance. Enjoy every day of this. This is Willy Wonka’s golden ticket that i have in my hand. It’s not easy for people to get in a position of such freedom where they could work 5 hours a day if they wanted to, live anywhere they want, and still spend the rest of the day just working on their passions.

Once you’re doing something that you are really burning for, your passion is going to glow through in all your work. It will be like you have rocket boots on. All your videos, blog posts, and everything, will be just a joy to make, and a joy for other people to see. You’ll be on the road to creation, and everything you do will add to your snowball.

Festival crowd throwing colored powder at each other

Festival crowd featured image by Tony Pham on Unsplash

Festival crowd powder ending image by Adam Whitlock on Unsplash

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