> A more rational career path for money-making is one that rewards effort, in the form of promotions, increased security, salary and status.
You trade off a lot if you're getting paid for effort instead of for results. No one wants effort. No one wants a badly burnt steak, not well cooked pie, crummily engineered car, and so on. But people will gladly pay a lot for results. Desiring to get paid despite burning steak ("rewarding effort") is a path to much less wealth than you could make, but even more scary, it's a path to much less happiness. Getting paid while failing to deliver what people wanted destroys your self esteem. Doing interesting work and needing to get it right is engaging and stimulating. Harder, more risky, sure. But much more enjoyable and fulfilling.
> Startups, unfortunately, punish effort that doesn’t yield results.
Right - no wants to pay for burnt steak. You want to get paid for turning on the grill, regardless of how it comes out? Don't expect to get paid much, or to have a particularly stimulating work life.
But if you don't have serious economic commitments and can handle a little stress, why not freelance after hours for a little while and see how it goes? Can wade in slowly some. If you're willing to focus, you can make 3x, 10x what you'd make salaried if you go self employed.
I remember reading somewhere that the average employee gets something like 2.5 productive hours of work done every 8 hour day: The rest is shuffling papers, meetings, chatting, goofing off online. If you can focus intensely for 5-6 hours a day, you can make a lot more money and have a more free, stimulating, enjoyable life. It is legitimately more intense and stressful, but I'd recommend almost anyone take a crack at it. The rewards are very, very good, definitely worth taking a year or two to see if it suits you. And I mean, why not give it a try? It's huge for you if it works out, and employers more and more are respecting the guy coming back to industry after working for himself for a while.
It's liberating. In my old job, I was frustrated and not as happy... now I've got more money, do some really fun projects (because when freelancing you do get to pick your clients a bit more) and I'm trying to grow bigger so as to launch my own product... Life is good...
So to anyone frustrated with his work, I would definitely recommend trying to freelance...