I figure the key to success for this self-imposed, self-sustained sabbatical (SISSS™) is a well-thought-out — yet flexible — plan. Also, an alliterative name for my sabbatical. When in doubt, alliteration.
And for those who read my previous entry, I promise there will be no mention of chewing off my foot in this post. Except that I just mentioned it … Ok, there will be little mention of chewing off my foot.
I knew I wasn’t happy with my current career path. But the question remained — well, remains — what do I want to do instead?
I’ve been reflecting on the types of work and past projects — or even just activities in my life — that have energized and fulfilled me. And I realized that in the back of my mind, I’ve had this dusty file folder labeled “Wouldn’t it be cool to be a …”, filled will careers that have piqued my interest over the years.
But those little demons called Doubt, Fear, Imposter Syndrome, and yes, even Practicality always seem to push that file folder deeper and deeper into the darkest recesses of my mind.
“Oh you’d hate doing that fulltime,” Doubt proclaims.
“Yes, and you wouldn’t even be good enough to succeed at that,” Fear responds.
“Plus, if you wanted to do that, you should have started right out of college. It’s way too late to start now,” Imposter Syndrome adds.
From the corner of the room, Practicality quietly observes the demoralizing coterie before piping in with a condescending sneer, “Can you actually make money doing that?”
With an angry glint in my eye, I glared at the gang. Enough with their intimidation! I shoved my way past those discouraging fiends. Trudged through marshes of apprehension. Hacked my way through brambles of uncertainty. Dodged hurling boulders of skepticism. Descended down the treacherous crevice of forgotten dreams, thrust my hand into the darkness and grasped that aged file before emerging victorious. And if you’d just read that paragraph with the Indiana Jones theme song playing in your head, guess what, so did I!
From the Mixed-Up Files of Ms. Laura D. Short
I returned from my perilous quest, battered and bruised, cautiously holding the fragile file out in front of me. I could see from the tattered edges and yellowed label that the file had been created so many years ago. I raised the dusty relic to my face, pursed my lips and gave it a big puff of air, only to quickly realize that that is a really inefficient way to remove dust from something, and I’m not sure why they always do it in the movies …
Once the dust-induced coughing had subsided, I delicately cracked open that file and peered down at its contents. I couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle as I looked down and saw a curious collection of contrasting careers.*
*see note above about alliteration
Oh, I’m sorry. I guess you’ve been waiting to find out what this mysterious list of careers is along with my plan to explore them and are wondering why it’s taken me thirteen paragraphs to get there. Well, get over here and see for yourself!
Where do we go from here?
I know some of you might be thinking — that’s quite an eclectic list. Or — what is a Major Gifts Officer? Or a furniture upcycler, for that matter??
I, too, was a little perplexed by the motley crew of careers, and grew anxious that this was just indecisiveness masked as diverse tastes. But I went through that list — as varied as it is — to note why each career interested me, and I started to see some common themes: creativity, autonomy, entrepreneurship, transformation.
So how exactly will I know which, if any, of these is right for me? For each career, I’ve identified some ways that I think I can get a little taste of that path before committing to it long-term. For some careers on the list, I have many resources available: interviewing people in that line of work, taking online classes, attending workshops, or even completing sample projects. For others, my exploration will most likely be limited to speaking with people in that field and shadowing them.
And for some of these careers — especially the more entrepreneurial ones — my research will need to cover not only what it takes to do that type of work but also what it takes to actually make an income doing that type of work.
In my next post, I’ll outline these a bit more, so you can see my initial ideas. I would love to get suggestions from you about people I should talk to or resources I should consider.
I don’t plan to tackle all nine careers at once. That would be too overwhelming and jumbled. But by that same token, I’m not going to limit my focus to one career at a time either. There are too many external factors (e.g. when people are available to speak to me or when a sample project comes up) that would make it difficult to follow such a rigid schedule. Instead, I will likely explore a few careers on the list at a time, grouping similar types of work together.
But the crux of this plan is …
The plan will change. Not may. Will. My conversation with one person will introduce me to new resources I never thought of. I’ll cross a career off my list sooner than I expected. I’ll start exploring one path only to discover that I actually want to learn about a related line of work. I’ll get a unique opportunity that I just can’t pass up.
This is a loose itinerary. I have the main landmarks, but the path between them will twist and turn and form along the way.