Monday, January 28, 2008

Hurdles to overcome

I have always wanted to work for myself. The issue with that is I am a colossal chicken. My risk tolerance for falling on my butt is quite below the threshold necessary for attempting to start my own business, mostly owing to the fact that I have a family for which I am responsible. If it was just me, I could live with the concept of strictly ramen noodles for weeks on end if I thought I had a chance. Now however I need to be far more convinced of a guaranteed nature of a business model before I subject my family to that possibility.

I am continuously scratching the surface of interesting business concepts that would require some work to bring justice to an attempted launch. My problem is that I can never bring myself to delve deep enough into the project to achieve the possibility of getting off the ground. (Do you like my conflicting metaphors?) Admittedly, some of the reasons that I don't seem to give it a full fledged attempt is that I am unsure of how much I like my own ideas. I have come up with so many ideas that seem great at first glance but the longer I look at them the less appealing they become. This has created a kind of gun-shy attitude toward my own concepts. However, the rest of the time I find myself unwilling to invest enough effort into a project is because it has such a propensity for failure.

Some failure I can live with, mostly the type that doesn't really leave any lasting consequences. The bigger issue comes with the fact that for a career level project to succeed, you must invest heavily to the point that a failure usually will hit rather hard. You have to pass the point of no return if you want to build up enough speed to jump the canyon. If you still don't manage to get going fast enough the results are disastrous. If you do, then you have an achievement to be proud of. My problem is I can't get past the possibility of the spectacular fireball.

Am I nothing more than incapable of beginning my own enterprise or am I just missing out on methods of not betting the farm. Maybe my uncertainty is just an indicator that it isn't going to work anyway and I just have to wait until I find the one that I know will be able to sustain it's own existence.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How do I know who I am?

...Very often find confusion
In conclusion I concluded long ago...
In my head are many facts,
Of which I wish I was more certain I was sure!
Is a puzzlement!
- The King and I

I certainly know how the king felt in that song. It pretty much characterizes my life at the moment. Mostly it relates to the things that I thought I wanted to do with my career. The "What I want to be when I grow up" type stuff. I don't know if I ever have known what I wanted my life to look like when I hit 20, 30, 40 or whatever. The one thing that I have often come back to is I want to flex my creative muscles. The biggest problem with that is that my creative muscles are the equivalent of a 98 lb. weakling that is trying to show off in front of the mirror until Hercules walks in the door. I have been reminded so many times that my version of creativity is sorely lacking compared to most people I know who may stand a chance at pulling in a job in those fields.

How do I even start attempting to figure out what I enjoy enough to identify a career path to tread? Where does one begin when they have to go back to the beginning? What does the step one look like for something like this. I don't think I ever knew.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Definition: Career Nirvana

nir·va·na: (nîr-vä'nə)
An ideal condition of rest, harmony, stability, or joy.

Career Nirvana. My term. Achieving working conditions that you enjoy and that cause you to feel productive, satisfied, accomplished or content. This isn't necessarily saying that every single day you feel completely astonished that you are allowed to do this for a living, but it does mean that you can definitively state that you enjoy your job. It means you get up in the morning and it is not a burden to force yourself to go to work. When you go home at night you shouldn't have to spend the evening stressing that your job still has to continue tomorrow. You should instead feel contented that you have a decent life and now you get to relax and spend the remainder of your day as you please.

Is this too much to ask?

What you love or how you live?

Another blog has been called to my attention that says you shouldn't bother trying to get paid to "do what you love" since those are the things you are going to do no matter what. Instead you should do what fits you so that you can go make some money and allow yourself to do what you love. I'm not sure I buy that concept. If your job is just what allows you to live so you can go do the things you enjoy once you are done working, doesn't that breed contempt for your employment as taking away from your time spent living? It seems to me that in order to keep yourself from despising your time spent contributing to society and supporting yourself and your family, you need to find the job that you can wake up enthused about in the morning.

Some people might be very good at certain jobs that totally play to their strengths. They might be a wonderful fit for a position skill-wise, but at the same time it grates on them like fingernails on a chalk board. My last position was repetitive motion manual labor. I'd like to say I was good at it. I knew the ins and outs of the behind the scenes details as well as having a bit of a mastery of the skills involved with the actual position, however it left me bored. There wasn't room for problem solving. There wasn't much social interaction. This was a job that left me ample time to head home and spend time with my family and even pour some extra time into my hobbies (whatever they happened to be at the time). The problem was it didn't speak to me. It didn't move me. It didn't inspire me. I would wake up each morning feeling frustration that I was hog-tied to something that I did not enjoy in the least. Did it provide? Yes, however I couldn't follow this other bloggers opinion and just work to allow myself time to live because every second I spent in such a position I felt was a second squandered to meaningless existence.

What about it? Am I setting unrealistic expectations? Is it possible to love your job? What about the conflicting phrase of "if you want to learn to hate your hobby, get a job doing it"? These questions are going to take more puzzlement on my part before I can begin to answer them, if they even have answers at all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Find the passion

The concept may be a basic one to most people, but I seem to have just discovered it:

If you want to love what you do, do what you love.

A simple little phrase that speaks volumes the more you look at it. If you find a way to get paid for your hobby then you have achieved career nirvana. These are the things that you would choose to do in your spare time anyway but now you can make a living with it. Very few people actually reach such an enlightened state. None that I know of personally actually. Most people can start to come close by finding a job that is relatively entertaining and possibly even related to their hobby, but rarely does an individual reach that plateau of "I would do this for free if I was asked, but they keep insisting on paying me!"

I have come to the confusion that I really don't know what my passion is. I have several hobbies that are somewhat encompassing and several others that I would like to delve into more fully given the finances and/or education to do so. I like to work with my hands, but I don't want to be a laborer my entire life. That's the reason I took the job I currently have. I like to create, but I'm not nearly as creative as I would like to be. I like to be a part of where things happen. That I have currently. I am no longer an insignificant part of the machine. Where does this leave me? I have no idea. Maybe it's time to just list what the actual interests are and see what I have.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Intro to Chasing the Dream

This is my beginning. I would like to say that this is where the confusion ends but I know full well that won't be true. This is likely to be the place where the confusion manifests itself in my search for...whatever it is that I am hounding. You see, this is actually where I will chronicle my attempts to achieve. I'm not on a quest for truth. Truth has already discovered me. This is more a quest for satisfaction. Specifically job satisfaction. This doesn't explicitly mean that I am dissatisfied with my current position, it just states that I have begun to solidify my thoughts into more concrete form in my quest to answer the burning question "What do you want to be when you grow up?".

That question was asked of me (not in such condescending terms) during High school orientation and I thought I was actually going to be looked down on for not having a concrete answer at the time. I figured that it wouldn't be asked at all if most people weren't already prepared at 14 or so to devote the rest of their life to one specific pursuit. I was dumbfounded. I felt so ashamed that I hadn't put more thought into such an obvious life requirement. "I've kinda been thinking about architecture..." I stammered. Little did I know that would feel compelled from that point on to live up to the spur of the moment statement that spewed unbidden out of my mouth. Through the next 5 years (past graduation and into early collegiate lifestyle) I felt tied to the route I created for myself in spite of growing misgivings. I said it so I was going to stick to it.

About the time my inattention to timing caused me to miss deadlines to sign up for 2nd semester classes in college I discovered that I didn't really want to be an architect. The timing was perfect. Marriage was in the works and I decided that I needed more time and thought to fully determine my desired direction in life. Or more accurately, in career.

A decade has passed. I have worked my way through several iterations short-lived intended directions only to find myself in nearly the same boat. I have a good job, but I am not entirely certain that all my ducks are in a row. This blog is merely my thought process as I continue my quest. I know not where it will take me nor what it will look like in the future. I promise nothing to come out of it other that random musings that may or may not be connected by theme. I will never promise eloquence but I hope to achieve clarity of thought throughout my soliloquy.

Enjoy the ride.