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Finding your way

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Some days, we all feel like Alice in the maze. From here via Pinterest.

The end of one year and the start of another always gets me thinking. As in, this weekend ended my 24th year and began my 25th (actually 26th if you think of it, the year you are 0 is technically year 1, right?) The big quarter century mark comes with very little in legal distinctions. I can rent a car. Whoopty. But when it comes to milestones, 25 seems like a big one. I've been on the earth for (hopefully) about a quarter of my allotted time. I've enjoyed it - truly, it's been a great twenty five years. But it seems like the time in life where the I should be figuring out what the next 75 may look like. 

So,  I've been thinking a lot about my future. That used to be kind of a fun word to toss around, back when we were safely ensconced in school, and dreams were just that -no pressure or expectation to act upon them. Now the future seems a bit more like a huge anchor thrown out in front of me that is slowly dragging me in a direction I neither control nor predict.
Maybe that's not entirely fair. I have lots of things I'm looking forward to - a future with The Boy, great times with friends and family, watching as we all grow and change and make lives for ourselves.

But when it comes to my vision of myself, how I will grow and change and contribute to the world , that vision is a little less clear. I know the broad strokes -- I should be working with people, experiencing interesting aspects of the world, writing and expressing my ideas to others -- but how exactly does that manifest into a rewarding career - and one that also allows me to spend time with my family, travel the world, and make some kind of a difference? It's a harrowing set of expectations, if I do say so myself.

There are different ways of looking at work. The one option is to downgrade your dreams a bit. From current experience, I know that a job that is perhaps less challenging than you are capable of can be disappointing and boring at times. But there is the flip-side that it never encroaches on your personal time and gives you the opportunity to seek out other experiences and devote added attention to those. If I had a side-business or project that was fulfilling, or had children or family members who needed a large share of my time and attention, having a job like this might be the exact perfect fit.

Then again, there's always the dream of finding "the perfect job" that keeps you interested and engaged, busy and important. You love the work, you're good at it -- but the real question is always, where does the rest of your life fit in? Do you have to sacrifice the down-time, in order to have be truly fulfilled at work? And if if that's not the case, where do you find that job, and how?

I don't think there's a right answer; a book, or a test or a friend with advice that can set up the path for you. I think all those things help -- but a lot of it is chance and timing and gut feelings. My strategy is to try to think critically about what I like and don't like about current and past jobs, and analyze these preferences to help me gauge what an ideal work environment would be like for me. I have a couple great friends at work who love tests, and learning more about myself and my work styles has been helpful too (here's a fun one analyzing your work personality via your favorite colors

But most of all, I try to remember that almost all of the good things that have happened to me happened without me planning for them or making them happen. They came to me, appeared, and then it was my responsibility to be open and aware that an opportunities was there and to go after it with dogged resolution. I try to have faith in the system - the karmic system, fate, whatever - that more good things will happen to me and that I'll know the right job when I see it. I hope the same for all of you, my friends; we're in this journey together!

1 comment:

  1. Took the color test. Not sure it was very accurate. Here were my results...

    Suggested occupations are Engineer, Auto or Aviation Mechanic, Telephone Technician, Emergency Room Supervisor, Gardener or Groundskeeper, Plumber, Police Officer, Criminal Investigator, Rancher, Electrician, Forester, Machinist, Flight Attendant, Radiology Technologist, Vocational Agriculture Teacher, Industrial Arts Teacher, Building Contractor, Software Technician, Horticulture Worker, Professional Athlete or Dancer, Military Officer, and Cabinetmaker.


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