This month marks quite the anniversary for me.  It has been 10 years since I was liberated from a horrible office job and rather than search for another full-time gig, I made the decision to take the plunge into the entrepreneurial world of building a brand based on an idea in my head called “Snoloha” and the life of being self-employed while primarily working out of a home office.

I can say, with absolute confidence, this is not for everyone.

Unless you are willing to be your own HR, billing, sales, marketing, IT and legal departments.  Unless you are willing and disciplined to pull out enough money to pay your own state and federal taxes, to navigate the world of health insurance, IRAs, LLCs, to save receipts, to organize those receipts, to try and get a bank loan (banks sure don’t like self-employed folks too much, we’re riskier since we don’t have that consistent bi-weekly pay check, which really isn’t all that safe because it can be yanked at anytime…but that’s another rant).

Sure, you can hire some of that out…but everything comes with a cost, out of your own pocket.

I’ve often described it as a roller-coaster ride full of ups and downs.  The goal is to have more ups than downs.

Life has certainly changed in 10 years – heck, social media wasn’t even a ‘thing’ back then (ah yes, the good ole days without social media).  Since then…married, purchased a house, bought a sailboat, finished an elusive Bachelor’s degree, became a dad, took a couple trips to the Caribbean, lost our beloved Oscar Meyer, let the Snoloha clothing brand drift off into the horizon, lost my stepmom, got back to playing basketball, became a dad (again), started a nonprofit and turned the big 40.

So what have I learned in 10 years?

Well, part of me is still trying to figure that out.  I’m constantly searching for answers to questions that bother me so.  I’ve read all the books, I’ve gone to a therapist, I’ve read the blogs.  And to be honest, I’m quite certain that at this point I could have written or taught most of what I have read and learned.

I’ve learned that anyone can opine on any subject and claim to be an expert.  Dishing out advice is easy.  The difficult part is putting it into practice.

I’ve learned that I’m still trying to put into practice all the things I’ve learned.

I’ve learned that ‘following your passion’ is BS in many ways.

I’ve learned that ‘following your passion’ makes sense in other ways.

For example:  I love to sail, to play basketball and to snowboard.  I clearly can’t make a living by being a pro at any of them.  But, I have been fortunate enough to work in the sailing and snowboard industry from a marketing perspective and I started my own nonprofit that revolves around basketball.  So yes, I am following my passion, with a realistic approach.

I’ve learned that getting out of your comfort zone is important.

I’ve learned that it’s never going to be good enough or completely done, so just get it out there so you can move on.

I’ve learned that everyone has an idea on what you should do.

I’ve learned to ignore those people.

I’ve learned to never stop learning.

I’ve learned that most of what Jimmy Buffett sings about is true.

I’ve learned that doing something that matters and leaving a dent in the Universe is what is important to me.

I’ve learned that following the norm is no fun.

I’ve learned that most things in life can be compared to a Seinfeld episode.

I’ve learned that as technology advances, the world is getting dumberer.

I’ve learned that failing is a good thing.

I’ve learned that chasing the low-hanging fruit and appealing to the masses is by far the easier route.

I’ve learned that I’m not wired to take that route.

I’ve learned that it’s never quite as bad as you anticipated it would be.

I’ve learned that it’s never quite as great as you anticipated it would be.

I’ve learned that with all the distractions, the technology, the shouting and the noise that people still care about a story.

I’ve learned that just when I think I have it figured out…

I’ve learned that “some people never find it, some only pretend, but me…I just want to live happily ever after every now and then”.

I’ve learned when a blog post is becoming too long.