Last weekend I decided to do a little organizing — digital organizing.
Between working on my blog, drafting assignments for my interior design classes and collaborating with folks on the podcast, I’ve been using my Google Drive a lot. And it was driving me crazy how unorganized all the files were!
So, I took the time to go through each loose file and either delete it or place it in a folder. Now, I’ve been using Google Docs and later Drive ever since it was in beta, which means I had a lot of documents … and a lot of old documents.
Going through these files was a fun little excavation into my past self. There were old job resumes and cover letters. It was humorous to see how much I needed to pad my resume as a young professional first starting out. I had also forgotten how many different jobs I’ve applied for over the years.
It was interesting to look back at those old documents and reflect on how much I’ve changed over the years. I’ve gained more experience and skills. I can speak more confidently about my qualifications.
But was what surprising was uncovering many old files that revealed how much I really haven’t changed.
There’s the document from 2010 where I listed content ideas for a blog I thought about starting — Fashion, Food and Frugal Fun. I had even drafted a few possible posts for the blog.
There’s the file from 2014 where I brainstormed ideas for articles I could write and submit to online publications.
And then there’s another document from 2016 where I drummed up more content ideas and even listed different formats — blogs, videos, podcast, tutorials — that I could explore. I wonder if 2016 Laura even remembered that 2010 Laura had also dreamed of blogging and had even already written a few posts that never saw the light of day.
And then there is a questionnaire document from early 2016, back when I was still working at the ad agency and more than a year before I started working at Facebook. The questionnaire included a number of fill-in-the-blank prompts meant to help you surface the type of work you were really passionate about.
Here were the questions:
- If I could choose one friend to trade jobs with, I’d choose _____ because _____.
- I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do _____. It’s interesting to me because _____.
- If I had the right education or skill set, I’d definitely try _____ because _____.
- If I had to go back to school tomorrow, I’d major in _____ because _____.
- My co-workers and friends always say I’m great at _____ because _____.
- The thing I love most about my current job is _____ because _____.
- If my boss would let me, I’d do more of _____ because _____.
- If I had a free day that had to be spend “working” on something, I’d choose _____ because _____.
- When I retire, I want to be known for _____ because _____.
And here were my answers:
- If I could choose one friend to trade jobs with, I’d choose Kirin (television producer) because it seems like she gets to travel and work on new and interesting projects.
- I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do travel writing. It’s interesting to me because you don’t have to work in an office, you have flexibility in your schedule and you get to talk about your opinions.
- If I had the right education or skill set, I’d definitely try video production because you get to constantly work on new projects, you’re not chained to a desk, and you get to be creative.
- If I had to go back to school tomorrow, I’d major in theater/acting because I love acting and I’ve learned that studying it in school can put you on a good path for a career (at least in theater).
- My co-workers and friends always say I’m great at being creative because I’m resourceful and good at DIY projects (e.g. Halloween costumes, handmade invitations).
- The thing I love most about my current job is presenting our capabilities because I like presenting and also explaining things.
- If my boss would let me, I’d do more of market trips/in-person meetings because I like to travel and socialize.
- If I had a free day that had to be spend “working” on something, I’d choose a DIY project (either home or fashion related) because I like creating, and doing something physical is easy for me to keep doing without my ADD kicking in.
- When I retire, I want to be known for creating some type of art/entertainment because I like being creative and the idea of having some type of product at the end of it (e.g. a video).
When I came across this document again this past week, almost three years after I did the exercise, I gasped at my answers and shook my head. These interests and passions are the same things I’ve highlighted during this sabbatical. The blueprint was there three years ago, but it would take me another 2.5 years and a whole new job and company before I finally worked up the courage to pursue these interests.
I try to look back and think — why didn’t I start that blog back in 2010? What would have happened if I had? Why did I go into another marketing job in 2017 when I so clearly articulated a year before that I was craving something more creative, that got me out from behind a desk?
Of course, I know some of the answers. I was afraid it was too late to make a change. I talked myself out of it before I even tried. Pride and ego and caring too much about others’ perception of me soured me on the idea of having to start at the bottom again.
Uncovering these old documents, seeing the black and white evidence of dreams deferred just reinvigorates me during this sabbatical. It reminds me that if I’ve always wondered about doing something, I should just go out and do it. It pushes me to take advantage of this opportunity to explore and try new things and not worry about rejection.
Because as many popular sayings go: I’d rather regret the things I’ve done rather than the things I haven’t done.