I don’t think I have ever been as tongue-tied in my life as that November 2006 day when I told my boss that I had decided to end my hockey career. It was tough to sum up exactly what I was feeling and why, but I got the words out somehow and in February of last year, I walked out the loading dock door of the Verizon Wireless Arena into the great wide open, not looking back. (Here were my thoughts a day before that fateful walk).
So just over a year later, what did I learn?
-I made the right choice. Yep, this is a pretty simple statement but it really sums it up. I’ve been fairly lucky in my life with these bigger choices and not once have I regretted making a career move. While I did take a slight pay cut from then to now, I’ve got my life back and have more opportunities to do what I want to do as opposed to what others need me to do. I am asked often if I miss working in hockey. I miss the people I worked with, but not the work itself.
-I am still driven to be better. When I lived in Portland for a year, I felt that I did more, whether it was working out at the gym, giving maximum effort at work and staying in contact with friends. As the years went on, that internal motor started to shut down. I yearned to write more, to read more, to create more but I always came home at night mentally worn down. Now, I am in a mind space that encourages balance and it revived that inner drive I had suppressed. The best compliment I have ever got, “Man, you’re not one for down time, huh?” Blogs, podcasts, interacting, creating…there’s so much I still want to do and will do. Now, I have the opportunity to do it.
-Small businesses can be both frustrating and great: I enjoy a lot of leeway at my new gig as we have no traditional hours, no traditional dress attire and no traditional, well, anything. From the outside, people are both jealous and a bit dismissing of this because it’s not the norm. But that’s ok. There is no one way to run a business and luckily, I don’t have to deal with a lot of the corporate b.s. and politics that can slow down workflow. However, there’s a lot of self-discipline you have to have in order to be successful at a place like I work in. Decisions often take a little more time and changes often happen over weeks and months, not hours and days. There have been occurrences that have frustrated me, but overall, I’m really happy. We have a great group of people and even though I don’t understand all the decisions that the higher-ups make, I love the challenge of trying to figure them out.
Side note: For those of you that have no idea what I do, I handle sales/marketing/p.r. for a web development shop called Amplify Studios. We build web sites, applications and everything else you can imagine in the interactive world. One of our big applications that I spend most of my time focusing on is called SendLabs, a web-hosted email marketing service. A big departure from hockey? Uhhh, yeah…you could say that.
-With time comes a need for focus: In my two months between jobs, I watched a lot of Family Guy, drank a lot, didn’t shave and overall, was pretty lazy. After I started at Amplify, some of the bad habits were shaken but a lot weren’t. Unfortunately, my health began to spiral downward with some weight gain and side-effects that came along with that. Recently, I’ve taken some measures to change the tide which I’m going to write in-depth about in the next few weeks. I think I learned overall that you need to identify some core values in yourself that will remain no matter what changes around you. I will never let taking care of my body take second place again…ever.
-I still love NH: I had the opportunity to move back to Portland with a job that paid well, but would have put me on the road up to 50% of the time, defeating the purpose of me coming home again. It’s tough for some to comprehend, but I have no reason to leave here anytime soon. Great friends, close proximity to all kinds of stuff to do, familiarity and a name that people recognize. It’s a bigger city, but it’s nice to know that within a few phone calls or emails, you can get through to someone based on reputation and background. For me to leave now and reset everything I’ve built up here since 2001 would be foolish.
You must be thinking, “Wow…must be nice to have it all figured out.” Hardly as I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn. I’m still learning new things everyday at the new job and I’m sure to make mistakes every now and again. I need to learn to temper myself in certain situations and be more assertive in others. I need to figure out how to balance my outside interests so I can still have a little bit of down time if I need to. And most importantly, there is still a hole that I need to fill with sharing some of this with another person. It’s great to talk about stuff with friends, but there’s something about that connection you can make with someone that goes a bit deeper than with your guy friends.
14 months later, I’m happier than I’ve ever been and am looking forward to another fun and full summer. Life is good right now and I hope that in another 14 months, it’s even better.