I’m suffering…from not knowing what I’d like to work on next.
I’ve been exploring all things I’ve enjoyed over the years, had filled me with joy and happiness, were longer-term what I eagerly woke up for and worked on.
What’s funny is that I can’t find many examples where that was happening consistently. I remember there were even times at DocuSign, probably one of the places where I experienced the greatest professional joy, when I didn’t want to get out of bed, go to work, or do the activities. This resembled what I read in a couple of articles yesterday about how everyone has a tough time with work from time to time.
The question then isn’t whether I can find work or jobs where I’m consistently happy or filled with joy, with no points of boredom, hardship, or difficulty. It’s whether I’m doing something that I’m good at and whether I’m doing the work consistently. Being consistent and persistent is what’s important. When it gets difficult, while doing what I’m good at, I can then keep pushing and getting work done. That’s how I make progress.
There are a few things I know, even as I search for a new adventure. I gravitate toward learning, reading and, at times, teaching. I like getting recognition for my work in the form of verbal praise as well as payment, whether that was a paycheck from employers in the past or, these days, paid contracts from customers. Those “rewards” are great reinforcement.
I love working on something that people really need and appreciate when they realize the results. I enjoy creating relationships and connecting with people who are intellectuals, even if they never went to school. Just so long as they’re curious and explore ideas, their professions and are always aiming to become a better version of themselves.
I enjoy writing about what I’m going through and publishing it, even though I have limited readers, all of whom I know in one form or another as friends, family, past coworkers, customers. You get the idea.
What I despise are bureaucracies, being told what to do, work that’s purely sales, being around people who are negative and see only the wrong in the world, partisanship and demonizing of the “other side” in politics through name-calling and shaming. I despise working, talking, or dealing with people who are too sensitive and take every comment to be a critique of them, even though it may have nothing to do with them.
Bottom line, I realize that there are many things I don’t like about the work I’m doing now, some relationships, and our societal social interactions, but there are also aspects of the work I do, the relationships I build and company I keep that I truly enjoy. When I’m able to solve a problem for someone, fix something and be recognized for it, I truly enjoy the interaction. I’m just not sure if I can keep giving away my time to help people when they need it, and I need to find a way for people to truly see value in working with me, to be willing to pay me for my services.
I tell you, it’s lonely working on my own projects. I get plenty of support from family and friends, but I can’t really tell them what’s going on in my head, how difficult it is to keep pushing forward in the face of disappointments big and small, when I lose the deal I’ve been working on for 9 months, or a customer cancels a contract because my sponsor changes jobs. It’s difficult trying to constantly experiment to figure out the psychology of how people will act or react to what I write, how I advertise, the fact that I advertise, or the work that I deliver. Sometimes, it’s hard to accept so many variables that are out of my control but that affect whether I get any work or what kind of work I get.
But I keep pushing and moving ahead. I persist and find ways to remind myself about what good I’m doing in the world and how I’m helping people.
What will I do that’s different to help me pick myself back up? What will I do that’s motivating, interesting, and keeps bringing me back to do the hard work? What will make work feel like what I want to do day in and day out?
I like the idea of curiosity-driven work. It feeds my want to learn and it’s something that I can dig in for whatever I’m doing. Reading and learning has to be a part of anything that I do. It’s a way of getting energized and bac into the conversation with people so that I can help them solve their probems.
I see now that I keep bringing myself back to:
- Problem solving
- Receiving public appreciation and gratitude for my work in the way of praise, payment, referrals and recurring work from the same people
Similar to how I did so well in school when I worked, I need to do things that address different aspects of who I am, that are diverse and distinct from each other, while balancing my time so that I’m not robbing efforts from one to do the other and failing at doing either well. So, there must always be
- Learning and feeding my curiosity
- Applying the learnings to my work
- Working on projects that I feel are delivering a service I believe in
- Volunteering / working on something that will will affect people other than just me
Among things I can volunteer for would be anything that helps with addressing Climate Change. This has to be on top of the list. Next to it is anything that helps people come to the table to have a discussion about Climate Change and how to find solutions TOGETHER. Divisive politics has no place in the face of existential threats.
I already do a pretty good job with learning and applying the lessons. I can certainly improve my learning process, how I consume information, as well as how well I can apply the lessons so that they become a part of my routines.
I must find ways of incorporating what I enjoy doing for Community Colleges with the sales process so that the act of selling doesn’t seem so burdensome.
I will rely more on my writing and publishing, as well as building relationships over drinks, meals, and getting to know someone. I keep writing this: I like learning. So, I wonder if there are opportunities to attend events when I can learn from others while connecting with them, to get to know them, and introduce them to my services. So, may be I can attend conferences that are focused on community colleges. May be I can become an active member of online sites that focus on helping these people.
May be I can learn, educate and help others all at the same time.