A friend asked me that recently, adding: “Do you ever just wake up and think wow I just truly don’t care?”
I like the question because, frankly, I do have a decent tenacity for my projects. CSS-Tricks was about 15 years old when I sold it. It’s been almost 12 years since I started working on CodePen, and that’s still my main project every single day. Dave and I will darn near hit 600 weeks of ShopTalk show this year.
Here’s some self-reflection on how that works for me:
- I have a lot of control. The last several major projects I’ve done I have literal ownership of and I’m helping steer the ship. Having that kind of agency makes me care more.
- Having a lot of say in what you do every day is medicine for burn out. So is being able to talk about it publicly.
- I work on production, public-facing products. In the case of CodePen, we have loads of users using the app every single day. Users who care about it and have a lot to say. Users who also turn around and use it to share their work, often publicly. That breeds this feeling of this is real and matters, and that’s very motivating.
- Many of the users of CodePen are also paying users, meaning they are counting on us to deliver and put up their bucks to ensure it. That can be stressful but never boring.
- My reputation is wrapped up in all this. Not that I have any desire to, but I can’t walk away from any of it without serious professional repercussions. Not caring isn’t a realistic option. It’s probably not a great look for me that CSS-Tricks isn’t publishing anymore (I’m glad it’s still online and in good shape), but I can’t control that.
- I feel like I could become moderately skilled at any number of other things, but at the moment, I don’t really have any other easily marketable skills. I’ve got a family to support so for better or worse: I’m a web guy. I need to turn knowing about websites into money.