Editor’s note: Co-workers who read this blog (and I know you’re out there), please know I don’t want to this to get around. I don’t want our employer to think I’m not grateful to have a job or that I’m looking to go anywhere else anytime soon. Because I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. I’m just making sure I have a future beyond what we’re doing right now, and I know you know what I mean.
It feels weird to talk about what I want to do for the next step in my working life without ever speaking clearly here about what it is I do now. I’ve maintained my anonymity as best as I can and kept my real name and job unassociated with this blog because I never wanted to be found through the Google, and I never wanted my opinions on here to cross with my professional work. So far I’ve been successful.
For those of you who have no idea what I do, here are a few points about my job that will serve as good background knowledge for this post:
- At least half of my job involves writing
- I work insane hours, and I have little control over my schedule (like I can’t take days off when I might need them, and that includes nights and weekends
- I have many bosses and work for a large company (though I’m the only one of my kind in my city)
- I spend half of my time working at home, the other half mostly working in the field. I have an office, though I don’t see it very often
So, with those aspects of my job on my brain I found myself enthusiastically nodding at an article my friend Jigsha shared with me by Penelope Trunk, entitled, ‘The Worst Career Advice: Do What You Love.’ Some smart observations from Penelope:
Career decisions are not decisions about what do I love most. Career decisions are about what kind of life do I want to set up for myself.
Relationships make your life great, not jobs. But a job can ruin your life – make you feel out of control in terms of your time or your ability to accomplish goals – but no job will make your life complete. It’s a myth mostly propagated by people who tell you to do what you love. Doing what you love will make you feel fulfilled. But you don’t need to get paid for it.
I mean, I love writing. Most of the time I love the topics I’m writing about. And yet, I have a job that has a way of making me psychologically unstable at times and, oh by the way, consistently ranks in the bottom 50 of the 200 best jobs in America list, which is to say it ranks among the top 50 worst jobs in America. I guess I can take comfort in knowing meter readers and roustabouts are more miserable than I, but maybe I should consider a career as a dishwasher, garbage collector or corrections officer?
As I’ve thought about where I want my life to be down the road, I’ve frequently realized there are things I like about my job — writing, being able to work from home, not working 9 to 5, M thru F. But it’s the not being able to take a day off when I need to visit my family or celebrate someone’s birthday and the unpredictability my job can have that makes me crazy. Meg at A Practical Wedding observed after the second month of working for herself as an author and blog proprietor that while she was working boatloads harder as her own boss, she was happier because of the control it provided her over her own life. And aren’t we all just a little bit of a control freak deep down?
Operating my own business/being my own boss is an item on my bucket list. So now, I’m laying the groundwork for that by teaching myself the tenants of web design and programming. Gosh, that’s scary to put in type for the whole world to see, because now it’s more real and I have to follow through with it, right? I’ve at least been dabbling in web design ever since I drew up the original (and let’s be honest, awful) design for The Modern Gal. And now thanks to a web course and some textbooks, I’m thoroughly fluent in HTML and can hold my own with XHTML and CSS. I have a stack of textbooks on design principles, Java and various Adobe applications yet to tackle and possibly some other online courses in my future.
Will this work? I have no freakin’ clue, but I’m going to plug away at it until it doesn’t. It may take forever for me to feel comfortable enough to apply my knowledge in the real world, but I feel like it’s something I can start small with as a side thing while continuing at my current job and see if and how it grows. It’s something that I can do for myself or consider as I seek employment from an established company. It’s something that can still involve a bit of writing and creativeness. It’s something that I can work at during weird hours, but can probably afford to take a day or evening off if needed.
Studying web design/programming excites me. Whatever time is left over after my day job and wedding planning and sleeping and blogging and spending time with the Modern Love Machine I dedicate to turning myself into a design and programming nerd. It might take me eons to get to where this little obsession is, but every great accomplishment takes deliberate practice, right?
I’m soliciting advice/tips/suggestions/encouragement/discouragement (if it’s warranted).