How To Get Your Dream Job in 5000 Words or Fewer and Live in the Woods and Work on The Internet

July 21, 2013

Video on Vimeo.


I’m Luke.

I got my dream job. And I live in the woods. And work on the Internet.

I tweeted the title of this talk a few days ago. During the TriConf nominations a few of my talks got lumped into one. I thought it was humorous and I could make a funny talk about these things that I enjoy.

My job. The Woods. The Internet.

John Higley asked me (mostly in jest I think) what my talk was about. With a 21 word talk title that pretty much lays out exactly what my talk sounds like it will be about, it got me thinking.

What is my talk about? Could I tell someone how to get their dream job? Maybe. Could I tell someone how to live in the woods? Work on the Internet? Yeah, I could probably give them some tips. But what is my talk really about?

This is a talk about passion.

And purpose.

Specifically, how I found (and almost lost) my passion and my purpose. If I could do anything it would just be to share part of myself with you, and hopefully you come away with questions, inspiration, determination, or just a feeling in your gut.

One of my heroes, Adam Brault, wrote this a few months ago. Then you should do it. I now work with him at &yet.

But last September, I could hear those words in my head before he wrote them. Back in September of last year, I decided to send a 5000 word email to applying for a job from a 2 month old blog post that I was in no way qualified for.

There have been a few points in my life where I wasn’t a bumbling mess getting in my own way and sabotaging my way out of what I really wanted. Sending that email was one of those times.

I was scared to send it. I probably spent 4 or 5 days writing that email. I pored over it. I read it again and again. I added stuff. Took stuff away. I found the places where I wasn’t being genuine and replaced them with passion. I was scared to send it.

There was fear.

There were 100 different ways I could’ve convinced myself the email wasn’t worth sending.

  • The job posting was old.
  • They’d already hired someone for the job.
  • I had never met him in real life.
  • The only conversation I’d ever had with Adam was this tweet agreeing with him about marketing for gluten free restaurants.

But I had this nagging feeling.

“Then you should do it.”

I was invited to RealtimeConf, and the rest is history. Adam gave a talk to close out RealtimeConf that I’m still recovering from, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Back to the 5000 word email. When I was writing it, I had visions of a job I loved. The kind of job where I could make a difference. But I wanted a job that I “loved” (notice the little-l). I was confusing little-l and big-L love.

But passion is hard work. Making a difference is hard work.

I failed. A whole bunch of times. I wasn’t ready to fail at the job I loved. My dream job. It was the kind of job where you had to bring your whole self. The kind of job where everyone did that. There was no sitting back. I didn’t know if I was really ready for a job requiring this level of real work.

It was a job with rewards. It was my dream job, but it was hard and I was scared. Again. 6 months after I sent the email I was still scared. I thought, “I’m in over my head.” I felt helpless. I felt like no one on earth could be as stupid as me for thinking they could succeed at the job they dreamed about. I wrote a resignation letter.

But deep down I wasn’t ready to quit. I almost broke down a few times. I got very close to self-sabotaging one of the greatest things I had ever had. My wonderful fiancé talked me out of it. I had some deep conversations with Adam, but I never revealed how close I came to quitting.

Today, I definitely do Love my job. Big-L Love. Another one of my heroes, Eric Zanol wrote a blog post that you should read. I was a wannabe. My job couldn’t and wouldn’t let me be a wannabe.

I also had no idea what I was doing. But that meant something awesome. I was learning. And for probably the first time ever, I felt good about failing. Because for one thing I wasn’t being a wannabe and I was surrounded by real leaders. So I felt comfortable trying new things.

So I had my dream job.

Let’s back track again. Sorry for jumping around. In December, 2011, I lived in Tempe, AZ and dropped everything to move into my mom’s cabin in the woods. It was a difficult time for me. I struggled with addiction. I was dealing with childhood traumas in a real way for the first time. I had an apartment that I paid a sum of money to not deal with anymore, and moved into my mom’s spare room down the dirt road from all three of my sisters and their families.

Why did I drop everything, lose money, and move to the woods?

Because that is where I belonged.

That is where the people I loved (and the people I would come to love) lived.

I am literally shouting distance from my nephews, brothers-in-law, and sisters. I met and am now engaged to a person I am positively ecstatic to be spending the rest of my life with.

So back to RealtimeConf 2012. Adam gave a talk in which he showed me a definition of “The Good Life”.

  • Living in the place you belong
  • With the people you love
  • Doing that work that is yours

Check. Check. Check.

I live in the woods. I am engaged to the woman of my dreams. I work for a company and that understands me. They understand me deeper than my job description and are constantly there to support me and help me grow in ways I never imagined. I feel ownership of everything within the company while simultaneously having complete trust in everyone I work with.

Everything is amazing. Until it isn’t. I have it all, right? Sure, life always has problems, but deep down I have nothing to complain about.

Then why was I still unhappy?

Because I am fucking forgetful.

I wasn’t doing any of it on purpose. I didn’t have purpose. Purpose is the important part.

I had gone back to my default.

I battle:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger

Check. Check. Check.

That was my baseline. By default, I could convince myself that:

  • I suck at my job
  • I’m not worth loving
  • I belong nowhere

Check. Check. Check.

But not on purpose. Those feelings can only come from the lack of purpose.

If I think, and I mean really, really think, I would have to be a stark raving mad fool to think any of those three things on purpose. But they can creep in, just as dark thoughts do.

But I always come back to purpose.

What am I doing on purpose? These are all my choices. I decide what I do on purpose. If I make a conscious effort to do something on purpose, it forces me to come from a place of gratitude. It makes it impossible to be forgetful. It makes it impossible to take all the amazing wonderful things I have in my life for granted.

Doing things on purpose takes work and courage. And if I come from a place of hard work and courage, you bet I’m gonna do my best to be happy. You bet I’m gonna come from a place of big-L Love and surround myself with people who do the same. On purpose.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

All that is necessary for the triumph of me is that I have purpose.

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