The crossroads. The decision. The thing that will change all other things to come.
That’s putting a lot of pressure on one question. That’s putting a lot of pressure on one’s self. That is what thinking about what my next “career” move feels like. I’ve adequately filled up this months to-do list with things that are mostly related to personal goals. A small part of me wonders if I didn’t do that somewhat deliberately so that I could push off the one big question, the one big goal, which is to figure out what I’m going to do next with my life.
So my focus has been on my yard, and my exercise, and just enjoying every day. I’ve gotten kind of used to enjoying every day. I’ve gotten used to having extra time to myself and to have more freedom to choose what gets done when. I’m still not ready to give that up and thinking about what I am going to do to earn a paycheck has become a thing I’m not looking forward to deciding. I don’t know if it is fear of commitment to the wrong thing or just simply that I don’t want to have to go back to that lifestyle. Not yet anyway.
Yesterday I met with Paul, a mentor of mine at my last company. I respect Paul very much and therefore value his insight, wisdom, conversation, and advice. That’s the thing about listening to other people.. If you have a high opinion of the person you are talking to, then their words cary more weight. If you don’t think much of them, then you are more likely to dismiss any advice or opinions.
It was a good conversation. It was a well balanced conversation and I believe I achieved all that I intended.
The first objective was to re-enforce a connection with a person I think would be straight with me and is open to helping me out if I need it. I wanted to catch up with him and see how things were with him and his family and the company. I was not necessarily looking for specific help, only conversation and advice.
As far as help, I know if it really came down to it, he would at least know the right people to connect me to as it relates to professional endeavors. Indeed he did end up assisting with two separate connections. One was with a person who is a “headhunter” and could help me out finding the right job if a full time gig is what I end up going for. The second was a new group that is being established in my area of town, a new chapter of “Toastmasters”. Something I have long thought would be good for me both personally and professionally.
My other want from this meet-up was to get his thoughts on how I should approach that “big” question. He described a fairly well thought out approach which made such great sense as I listened intently.
In my own words, it’s a matter of priority. The top tier question one must ask themselves is what is most important. Is it money? Is it flexibility of schedule? Is it advancement opportunity? Is it job fulfillment? I need to start by defining this top tier and then move on to the secondary question which is “what”.
I’ve got the entire world of things that I could choose to do in front of me. Some things are well past my reach at my age and ability at this point, but there are a lot that are left. Too many, I think. This second tier is where that VENN diagram for career choice comes into play. If I have not written about that before, it’s basically taking three main categories and listing out what is in each for you. The categories are:
– What are you good at?
– What do you like to do?
– What will the market pay for?
I started brainstorming on this a few weeks back but did not get very far. In the crossover of these three things are sub-categories. For instance, you might like something, but not have what you need to do that for a job. I would consider my liking writing in that category. I might like to do that, but have no credentials and not sure what I could do without more training or knowledge.
I think I got some things under each category, but not a lot and then had to move onto something else and ran out of time to list any more. I have not revisited that yet this week. But at least I’ve started trying to solve this piece of the puzzle. I believe Paul is right though, once you narrow this down, then you really have to decide what things fit your priorities in the first tier and then throw out those that don’t (or re-evaluate your priorities).
He and I also touch a little on life in general. We talked about how time goes by fast and the fact that sometimes we measure time by time gone by since event “X” has happened in history. It was 9.11 after all, so there was a few very solemn moments around that topic, but that’s the stuff that matters. It forges deeper connections. I’m not afraid of getting there with people and I appreciate it when they are willing to go there too.
I think after our conversation he recognizes that I am at a similar crossroads that he went through when he was my age. The deciding between continuing doing what you are doing and having that be what you focus on or going a different path and starting over. In my mind, one of these things is easy and one of them seems like it would be difficult. So my “big” decision evolves into a test of my character and what I really want from life. I can have “easy” and still lead a really fulfilling existence but then I will never know what else I am capable of. I can choose to go the other route and risk failure, but at least I know I tried.
I’m wondering how much of my “safety net” I will have to sacrifice to go down the difficult path? Is there a way I can wander down either road just a little bit and see what it is like? And how long can I put off deciding before it really becomes a worry?
No answers yet, only questions.