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It turns out that when I have more control over my schedule, I don't fill it with development. I haven't been working on open source or personal projects, much less client websites or applications. This is a surprise to my 2010 self, who figured she would spend the whole day coding if she could.
I spend most of my discretionary time learning instead: drawing, writing, Latin, business, life. Maybe it's because I'm in the fledgling stage of business and there's so much to learn. Maybe it's because 3-4 days of consulting a week takes up a large chunk of brainspace. Maybe it's because development won't get me where I want to go in this short-term search for a business that can survive unpredictable schedules and the primary care of young children.
Learning time. Yeah, that seems like the focus that fits me. If I imagine days and weeks stretching ahead of me - maybe in half a year, after this consulting engagement - I can easily see myself spending time exploring ideas and sharing my notes. I'd want to plumb this, deepen my understanding of this, before I focus on something like development.
Self-structured learning time is intimidating, but I want to see if I can get past the initial anxieties and figure out things that work. Writers have been able to do so for millennia. Things will be okay.
I'll still build things, of course. Code is a powerful way to crystallize learning and make it easier for people to do better. It also helps me ask questions that would be hard to answer manually.
Okay. I give myself permission to focus on learning after this. I know I'll probably feel that itch to do something that creates immediate or measurable value for people. That's okay. I might feel insecure at some point. That's normal. But there's so much I want to learn, and I think I'll be able to stay motivated even without outside drivers. Worth trying it out and sticking with it through at least the initial bumps.
This will be fun!