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Time for a change.

For the last five years, I have been going non-stop. Two weeks before we got married, in June 2009, Becky and I both quit our jobs to focus all of our attention on building Hotchkiss Consulting full-time. For the first year, Becky spent every day going through every Craigslist gigs listing in the US, looking for issues that could be tackled using WordPress.

Over the course of these five years, we went from freelancing to running an agency, founded a startup in the criminal justice space, and started a security plugin that doubled its user-base every three months, then I reached an agreement with Matt Mullenweg on my thirtieth birthday for it to be acquired by Automattic.

That’s great, right?

It is pretty awesome and hard to believe. But, there’s a flip side to this coin. Over this same period, I have worked 80+ hours almost every week. I have not gone more than 8 hours without being reachable. (If you’re saying to yourself: “that’s about the length of a trans-atlantic flight,” it’s not a coincidence.) I’ve spent twice as much time on the road in the past year as I’ve spent at home. I’ve booked enough miles over this time to travel around the world 10 times. I’ve gained over 100 pounds, had heart surgery, and been, at best, a distracted husband. (I honestly have no explanation for why Becky has stayed with me other than that she is a saint…) On top of it all, we have lived in five different homes across three states.

I’m pretty sure that I have an addiction to chaos…

I seem to always figure out ways to add more chaos in whenever things start to calm down. This leaves me in a constant frenetic state, constantly running, with an incredibly high baseline stress level. I don’t even know what to do with myself when I have a moment of downtime, so I find myself checking my email every time I get to a stop light. I’ve only read three books in the last year, but somehow I’ve seen every episode of Cheers, Wings and Murder She Wrote at least three times in the background while I work. And, speaking of working, how many of those 80+ hours are spent with my mind mushy, trying to power through what I need to do, while not being able to give my best attention or effort?

I really, really want to fix things before:
  1. Becky wises up and leaves me for someone who doesn’t so closely resemble a tornado.
  2. I have a heart attack and kick the bucket before I can hit 40.

So, where do we go from here?

After much discussion, soul searching, sadness, and joy, we’ve decided to move back to Albuquerque. I know, I know, it’s yet another big move, and it’s not exactly going to be a low-stress thing, but we’ve found an amazing home that is right at the head of the Bosque trail, an amazing 17+ mile paved bike trail that hooks into hundreds of miles of additional bike trails. This home will be big enough for us to grow into as we (hopefully) start a family, and it’s near my awesome sister and her super-cool family. We are going to miss our amazing friends in Maine terribly, and we are going to miss many, many wonderful things about Maine, but we need to be somewhere that will be more conducive to getting and staying healthy.

This move alone, though, certainly isn’t going to be enough to get healthy, either mentally or physically.

So I want to make some big shifts in the way that I do things:
  1. I will experiment from now until the end of the year and, starting on January 1, I will set office hours and stick to them. When I’m working I will work completely, with my full attention, and when I am not working, I will not work. I will not check emails, I will not look at Slack, I will do no work unless I receive a text message with a true emergency.
  2. I will not multitask. I will not watch TV while I work, I will not watch TV while I eat, I will not read email while I eat, I will not check my email at stop lights.
  3. I will focus on being the best husband that I can be. I will make an effort to do at least one thing every day to help make my wife’s life easier, which will still pale in comparison to the dozens of things she does to make mine easier.
  4. I will not eat fast food. Period. (DISCLAIMER: Chipotle doesn’t count. I will eat Chipotle.)
  5. I will post SOMETHING to this blog every day.
  6. I will exercise at least three times a week.
  7. I will not travel to more than 6 WordCamps in 2015.
  8. I will stretch every day.
  9. I will NOT move again for at least 20 years.
  10. I will read at least one book a month.

I am the kind of person who decides to do something, gets really passionate about it, and then proceeds to see the next “ooh shiny!” and completely forget about what I had been working toward. I don’t want to do that here. I will follow up on this blog post every month to talk about how I’m doing on these 10 items. I will not hold myself to the standard of perfection, as perfection is the enemy of good.

I beg of you, Friends and Family, don’t let me off the hook here. If I don’t update this, tell me that you noticed, and push me to be accountable. I have this incredible opportunity right now become a better husband, employee, and human being, and I really want to take it.

About the author Sam Hotchkiss

Sam currently leads development on the widely used Jetpack plugin at Automattic, he's started and run multiple successful companies, and enjoys taking photos when he gets the chance. When they're not traveling, Sam and his wife, Becky, live in beautiful New Mexico, where he passes the time by talking about himself in third person.

All posts by Sam Hotchkiss →

8 Comments

  1. You have my support and then some, Dear Cousin 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  2. You and me both, my friend. We’ll find that peaceful and productive peace. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. I’ve become a professional at #1. I can help both of you with this.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  3. Congratulations on the move, and the commitment to living a more balanced lifestyle!

    Remember that everyone falls off the wagon sometimes – don’t let that be an excuse to fall back into old ways. We can always kick you off Slack if you’re online too much! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Congrats on the acquisition by Automattic and it sounds like the new year will have some great changes for you and your family ahead. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Sounds like some pretty good goals Sam. I hope to be walking a very similar path next year right down to the cross-country move. If you want an accountability partner or anything like that let me know.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. I would love it, thanks, Chris!

      Like

      Reply

  6. […] my determination to make a change, I’ve been working on figuring out a schedule that works well for harnessing my ADD-ness […]

    Like

    Reply

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