It occurs to me that I spend a good bit of time weaving narrative into my posts. I tell personal anecdotes to ground stories, and I add in a good bit of figurative language. But it’s always fairly superficial. I don’t generally get heavily into my own story. As an introvert, this makes sense, since talking extensively about myself or receiving compliments feels awkward.
But I’ve received a number of requests over the years like today’s reader questions. So today, for reader question Monday, I’ll talk about this subject. Here’s the reader question.
I’m interested in how you’d describe what a week, month or a single engagement in your shoes is like. I know a couple of people who are consultants and see them going out to coffee shops, meeting with clients to socialize and making pretty good money. I’d like to read an article about what your routine is like. Nothing where you give away client specifics or anything. I just think others who read your blog are taking in what you write about, putting what they find is useful into practice but are left wondering in their head ‘I wonder what work is like for Erik?’.
Before I dive in, it’s worth noting a couple of things. First, I have to address this at different times because my life has changed a lot. And, secondly, it really depends on what kind of consultant you are, so I’ll speak a bit to experiences other than mine as well.
I’m predicting a fairly long post on this one, so buckle up. I’ve always found that it’s the absolute most difficult to be brief when I’m trying to explain myself, as if I’m constantly mounting a legal defense or something. Anyway, here we go.
Modern, Reclusive Erik, A Day in the Life
For the last six months, most of my days look pretty similar, weekday or weekend. I usually wake up around 9 and shuffle to the kitchen for some coffee, preparing to sit at my computer. Morning time is usually writing time. This isn’t for my personal edification or for my books, but for my growing content marketing business. That typically carries me through lunch and a little after.
In the afternoon, I’ll spend some time handling emails, corresponding with clients, and working on the businesses, but that usually stops at some point. For the last six months, I’ve been living in a house on a lake, featuring usually great weather, great scenery, and generally great marrow waiting to be sucked out of life. So I go outside. I jog, I kayak, I do a bit of yard work, I fish, or I make a fire in the fire pit and just enjoy my surroundings. The weather is getting a little suspect for that here in late October, but we’re getting ready to head south for the winter. So I expect this routine to continue.
After enjoying life a bit, I eat dinner and then either call it a day or go back to work, depending on how I feel. This is typically non-writing “deep work.” Minimal distractions after 8 PM, so I can get in a solid block of concentration until I go to bed around 2 or 3 AM. Sometimes I also write during this time window. Other times, I’ll work on software for my codebase assessment practice or my own longer form content marketing.
Why Does This Matter?
You’ll notice what I don’t really talk much about here: consulting.
That’s because I don’t honestly do much of it anymore. And that’s by design. I have engineered and hacked my life deliberately and specifically to look like this.
When I do consult these days, the clients seek me out, and I agree only after a heavy round of disqualification.
- Is it a short term engagement (a few weeks or less)?
- Will it pay enough really to be worth it?
- Can I do it from anywhere?
- Is it a high value, high leverage engagement for the client?
A “no” to any of these questions and many more results in a “no thanks” from me.
I give you this vision of my life, mostly “retired” from serial consulting in order to set the stage for the rest of the post. Consulting is fun, rewarding, interesting, and lucrative when you do it well. But it’s also a treadmill unless you specifically make it not one. It’s the career equivalent of an interest only loan unless you’re careful.