That isn't a question I ask myself often. Usually, I'm pretty headstrong and know exactly where my future lies; it's exactly the reason why I left my full-time Web job four (FOUR!?) years ago, took up freelancing to get me by, then went back to university to further my abilities and grow up a bit (and give the government handfuls of cash). In short, I'm usually pretty confident about what my next step is. Well, I was until recently.
Before university I was a young Web designer, perhaps even a developer. I absolutely loved designing for the Web, and making websites was how I spent my free time. However, I was a noob back then and I really hadn't thought about what I actually enjoyed about making things for the Web. I'd been doing it since I was 12, but it was only when I did finally think about why I was doing it that everything became clear to me — it wasn't Web design that I loved, it was using technology to make something cool. Soon after that I got bored of making websites and I gave up freelancing to start blogging and experimenting with Web technologies; it was the birth of this website as you see it today. So, I needed to get myself into an environment that gave me the freedom and the time to learn new things, while not having to worry about earning and income and all that boring stuff. University was the only logical option!
If I ever had to rank the decisions I've made in my life in order of pure genius, going to university for the second time in my life (long story) would be high up there. In fact, it's probably the best decision I've made that doesn't involve my beautiful lady friend, although I have to say that if I ever want to have children. Still, what I'm getting at is that going to university has literally changed my life and opened my eyes to things I would never have considered before; like trying out programming that doesn't involve the Web, or speaking in front of a large crowd of people. The environment and opportunity that I've been given during my time here has allowed me to flourish and really push myself to try new things. Those new things often end up causing me a lot of pain as I completely fail at them, but it's not the end result that matters, it's the process and the learning that comes about by actually attempting something.
Having the opportunity to try new things has undoubtably lead to bigger and better things; my internship at Redweb, for example. It was there that I got to experiment and explore HTML5 canvas, a Web technology I really hadn't done much with before then. The knowledge I picked up from those few weeks allow me to put together the HTML5 Google balls logo in a couple of hours on the morning of the 7th of September this year. And, it was that experiment that catapulted me into a whole new world of opportunity and wonder; a world that I never imagine I'd get to see. It was this new world that gave me the chance to write a book (I still haven't got used to the fact that I'm on Amazon); that gave me the chance explore bigger and better Web technologies; that allowed me to prove that I actually do know a thing or two; that let me organise a HTML5 hack night that sold-out and was sponsored by Microsoft; that that gave me to knowledge and courage to get on stage in front of 150 professionals in London and talk about my latest project.
It was this new world that changed my life in such a short amount of time. It's this new world that has brought me to this very moment in time; a moment in time that has left me without a next step, for the first time since I can remember.
So what do I do now? Well I know for sure that the next six months are going to be spent writing the book and finishing off what's left of my university degree. I also know that I want to continue experimenting and learning new technologies; there's no way I'm going to give that up. And, I can't avoid the fact that I'm going to need to earn an living. But, can I find a full-time job that gives me the freedom to experiment and that gives me time to work on my own projects? Or, would freelancing be a better idea? At least that way I can make my own time and I can work on projects that are fun and interesting. Or, what about something a bit different? Perhaps I could monetise my experimentations, or do paid writing and workshops off the back of them. Who knows. Perhaps you could tell me; I'd like to hear your opinion on it all.
What I do know is that I've never been so excited about the future before. Considering my life has been turned upside down in the space of a few weeks; I genuinely don't have a clue about what's going to happen over the next few months. The thought of that really, really excites me!