I've been pretty fortunate in my career so far. A few years ago, I was attending Web Designer conferences, learning more about HTML, Photoshop and Flash. At those conferences, I admired the speakers, the relationships they had with other speakers and how they really seemed to be enjoying the "speaking lifestyle." I thought to myself, "that's what I want to do."
Fast forward to today and I feel like I've accomplished everything I ever wanted to in my career. Now I'm experiencing an interesting state of mind. I don't really know what I want to do next. I'm certainly enjoying being a consultant and getting new gigs every 3-6 months, but I know if you want to make any real money as a consultant, you have to travel. When I say "real money", I mean $200-$300/hour, which equates to $400K-$600K/year. The problem with consulting is I don't want to travel. At all.
So I can continue being a consultant, making pretty good money, but I'm yearning for something more. I don't know what the "more" is, but I feel like I should have a plan for the next 5-10 years. I've had a couple of good offers for full-time jobs recently. The problem is that full-time employment generally doesn't appeal to me. The main reason is because I don't want to take a 50% pay cut. The second reason is because I tend to take 2-3 months off per year, and finally - I never seem to be that interested in the hiring company's mission statement.
The 2-3 months off is probably a misnomer because many of those weeks are for conferences, but I doubt I'd find a company that'd send me to conferences and pay for it.
On Monday, I was discussing this with a potential employer/client - and it hit me. I think I need to share my career aspirations with a full-time employer's to make it work. Since I'm at a point where I I don't know what my goals/desires are - it's pretty tough for me to see myself working for anyone but myself. What I do know is that it would drastically help if starting the company was my idea. The problem with this is I don't really have the motivation to start my own company right now. Sure I have Raible Designs and all, but to make real money as a non-consultant, I think you have to have a product. I could hire a bunch of consultants, but I don't really want to manage people - it seems like it'd be more fun to develop, ship and support product(s). Then I wouldn't have to travel at least.
This is all to say that I don't know what I'll do next in my career. Heck, I don't even know what I want to do. One things for sure though - my current gig is one of the best I've ever had. Awesome team, good rate, great location and super-easy commute. I think I'd be a fool to quit before my contract ends at the end of the year.
What are your career aspirations for the next 5 years? The next 10?