Tuesday, October 27, 2009

cogs and wheels and making your own luck



it seems that lately, the issue of what constitutes a career keeps popping up. my view on the subject has most certainly changed over the past two years. when i left my fast-track traditional career job at the end of 2007, i thought a career consisted of striving and promotions and brownnosing the right people and political infighting and a bit of strategic backstabbing and of CMA (cover my ass) operations to prevent oneself from being stabbed in turn. and oddly, i even enjoyed all of that. and was really quite good at it. and i was proud of that fact.

but, one of the reasons i left is that i realized i didn't have the creativity and laughter in my life that i craved. none of those career-track things i was doing really fit who i was as a person and they definitely didn't fit who i wanted to BE as a person.  i was just another cog in the engine of the big corporate machine. and thankfully, i realized i didn't want to be that anymore and now i'm not.

but i have come to a point where i need to decide what it is that i do want going forward. i've had the luxury for nearly two years of working mostly from home and of having writing as my job, which i love and which is best done (at least by me) sitting in the quiet of my home, wearing my flannel pajama bottoms and a beloved soft t-shirt, mug of tea at hand. that's how the stories flow best through my fingers onto the screen.

but the commute to another country is wearing me down. it doesn't help that when i do go to the office, i don't get a great feeling from my colleagues in one way or another. whether they seem gleeful that i'm away from my family (not cool) or are telling me i'm incapable of doing my job because i 'm a woman (even more uncool), it's not good for me anymore (not to mention the C02). and that realization hurts me a bit, because i like to finish what i start (that Ph.D. aside) and i feel in the middle of several things. but it's really just a matter of timing at this point. i've mentally already moved on.



i feel like my entire view on what constitutes a career has shifted. i have begun to imagine creativity as a career. holding workshops, having a little shop (this keeps coming up) that sells some exclusive fabrics as well as the products of my own creativity and possibly the creativity of others, the shop would also have good coffee, tea and whatever cakes i felt like making that particular day, or perhaps some photography and freelance writing. when people ask what i do, which they inevitably do, i'd say, "i'm creative." and that would be enough. for me at least. i don't need to be defined by the high-powered job that i have. and for far too many years i thought i did.

but it's a bit scary and daunting, imagining not knowing the exact amount of money i will have on a monthly basis. because our world is so geared towards that. and it has made us think that knowing that represents security. and happiness. but what if it doesn't? what if happiness is a life that enables you to live out your creative potential every day? and what if the rest, including the money part, will come if you're doing just that?

i have more thoughts about this, but i think i will let them gel a bit more...

28 comments:

Extranjera said...

I'll come. Even just for the coffee. And not even via the airport Starbucks.

Lisa-Marie said...

If you want to have a shop, and you can feasibly afford to set up a shop, then do it!

You could even have work shops in your own home whilst doing your current job to fund it!

McGillicutty said...

Man (I keep saying that lately) you would be SO good at something like that, you know you would. Of course it's daunting, it wouldn't be worth doing otherwise but think of the wonderful things you could do to make people happy... really happy...it's like back to basic real life, not this "make believe backstabbing for nothing world" that money has created.

Jelica said...

Your thoughts resonate with me more than you can imagine--I have just started working from home but, anal-retentive that I am, I want to be able to plan my career and see an obvious goal in the future (which I don;t at the moment).

Your creative career sounds wonderful, although I fully understand your concerns. But I think you have it in you :)))

B said...

You know that it's my dream to have a workshop/coffee shop. If we lived in the same country, we could totally go for it together. Or we can both have sister shops and organize exchanges! Whoa! This may sound crazy, but I now have so many ideas for this. I think I may even start a business plan... and you should do the same!

Fidgeting Gidget said...

What a great idea! You ARE so creative and you would be great at a venture such as this! I can only imagine that Sabin would be a great employee! :) She's creative, too.

And yes, I do think that sometimes you have to make your own luck.

Fidgeting Gidget said...

What a great idea! You ARE so creative and you would be great at a venture such as this! I can only imagine that Sabin would be a great employee! :) She's creative, too.

And yes, I do think that sometimes you have to make your own luck.

Soozie said...

You already have a shop, albeit a virtual one, so imagine a real-life shop would not be too hard a stretch of the imagination.

But I do know that when I turned freelance nearly 3 years ago, it was a huge decision that I agonised over making. Then someone asked me what I thought I would regret more - taking the leap and trying my hand at freelance writing, or returning to the Big Agency writing job that I now dreaded.

That made the decision so much easier to make and once it was made I felt completely liberated and everything else fell in to place. I even ended up earning far more money working part-time than I would have earned full-time at the dreaded Big Agency!

What's for you, will never pass you by. That's what my mum says. But I also believe that if you want something badly enough, you can conspire with the Universe to MAKE it happen ;0) I'm sure Paulo Coelho said something very similar...

Soozie said...

"When you want something, the whole universe conspires to help you realize your desire" Paulo Coelho

cheekyketek said...

You are easily the most creative person I know. But because you're also super smart, I'm sure there's this part of you that wonders why you never cured cancer or some such, right? But I think making a part of the world, even just a small part, a more beautiful place by bringing art into it and love and compassion and joy is as meaningful as curing cancer. It sounds like you're already making that paradigm shift, have been making it for awhile. I'm excited to see where you end up.

The Redhead Riter said...

It is hard to let go of a "sure thing" and to follow your "dream" when there are so many variables and unknowns. Don't deny yourself the opportunity to grow and develop. Careful planning and determination will make you successful no matter what you do. I know it! ♥

Cyndy said...

Once again, like the weather we seem to share, our thoughts are running parallel planes. I think it is the creative entrepreneur in us that keeps us thinking "what's next?"

For me, it has been rethinking the whole domestic position. While I am already a mom, wife, maid, taxi driver, etc. (the list is long), I am very seriously considering taking it to a new level. I have always shared the time with my work, and although I cannot walk away from our business, I am fortunate that I can redesign my position, leaving space for something more. The only thing holding me back is that stupid idea of "just" being a mom. Our culture makes it seem so mundane.

In reality, giving more time to my home will actually open more doors to my goal of opening our theatre, since getting our home renovations done literally clears the path to the doors of the auditorium. But it is more than that. It is about creating and strengthening our foundations. While it could mean a cut in income, there would also be a decrease in expenses and opportunities to find ways to save money on upcoming big expenses like college tuition while growing the investment in our building.

I love your "creative" shop idea and totally think you should go for it. Your illustrative journals have shown this is where you blossom and inspire. Just do it.

I, too, would love to have a coffee shop or B&B some day, but have realized that would be a good thing for when I have an empty nest. And that's OK, because I also know that one thing that won't change is that nagging voice of "what's next?"

Barb said...

Your creativity is amazing and I think you'd do well whatever you'd like to do. The important thing is to be happy!

Heliotrollop: said...

I have to say that since I discovered your lovely blog(s), I have never been able to wrap my mind around the fact that you have a "regular job." All of your creative endeavors seem to be who you are. Best of luck -- these are such hard questions!

Sara said...

I've spent a lot of time lately on this very subject. I like computer programming but I hate working for a corporation. I've considered the options of leaving programming work all together, working for a smaller company, or staying. Staying is safe. It's comfortable. But like you said, it may not be the answer to happiness. Leaving computer work is incredibly tempting but the house payment makes that difficult and scary...

I think if anyone can make a career of being creative, you can. I'm curious to see what you finally decide on.

kristina said...

Oh I can so relate to all of this. I've been thinking about this subject quite a lot lately. And you've expressed my thoughts so perfectly, so much more eloquently than I ever could. It sounds to me that if it's feasible, you really should go for it! K x

tidytipsy said...

I read this post this morning and it has stayed with me throughout the day...
I can relate to it so much... I am just finishing my college education that I pretty much hated and have to go looking for a job soon, knowing more strongly with every passing month that my heart's not in it.
It's so easy to say follow your heart but it takes a lot of courage! And yet, you're right, what if the majority is wrong and it's not safety and money that make you happy...
I guess the only person who can help you become who you want to be is yourself. You seem to have thought this through and I wish you the courage to follow your dreams!
I am very curious about your other thoughts on this topic, so please share when they're finished "gelling"!

urbaNiche said...

procrastination is good. its like a mental retreat and you come out rejuvenated.

i have been wanting a flower shop. i have sort of taken the first step by starting my own business and hoping the rest of the dreams will follow suit.

i ve been engulfed by these thoughts lately as well...about career, high powered jobs and amount of money ill end up making. but there are always risks involved when you decide to follow your heart. and more times then less the experience is all worth it!

good luck procrastinating

Eliane Zimmermann said...

but i would miss your posts as not having a backup from a secure job is extremely time consuming. i have - what i once considered as - my dream job: being teacher in aromatherapy. and my dream place in an scandinavian blue timber cottage at the seaside in ireland. but commuting to the various places after 9/11 has turend out to be very annoying. i used to knit a sweater during each trip and now i don't dare to take the perhaps permitted bamboo knitting needles. i would go berserk if they took them from me. not because they are expensive but because those security controls are more and more humiliating nd ridiculous. like those friends who recently had to cut a 200g-camembert cheese which they wanted to bring as a gift.in two pieces to not to exeed the permitted 100 grms of PASTE in their hand luggage. anyway, a really crerative job can be very stressful and less creative than dreamt. but you should follow your dreams! otherwise you might regret it one day.

rxBambi said...

I think your idea of a creative little shop sounds absolutely fabulous. I would come... seriously. plan for the worst, but expect the BEST and you'll be fine. Hugs...

Magpie said...

I am insanely jealous. I wish you luck - and I hope that you follow that creative impulse, because you make wonderful stuff.

Char said...

I know you will land where you're supposed to land. I have that faith.

I'm challenged and happy being back to work - I hope it keeps up.

Georgie K. Buttons said...

How did those leaves get stuck in between the gears?

Sorry, I really did read your post. But that really makes me curious.

Suryanka Kalra said...

If you really feel so deeply about it, give it a try, if you are good at what you do everything else money, success, fame will follow... Good Luck!

paris parfait said...

I think your intuition is exactly right and you will find the path you're meant to tread. xoxox

paris parfait said...

And P.S. Love those images! Will happily come visit you in your new creative shop. xoxox

Stacey Childs said...

Do it! I realised the other day, that although I'm broke, I'm happy! Look at the amount of exclamation marks I use in my writing! I just can't help it! I figure that as long as I have a part-time gig that will put the bare minimum I need into my bank account every week, I can a) survive and b) be happy. Seriously, you don't need as much money as you think you do. And it is so good not to ever have to be around office skanks that have no life beyond the four walls of the business, so feel like they need to make yours hell as well. And I know you would make a name for yourself doing any of those things you mentioned. You could totally do it. Do it!

kristina said...

I think your new home, when you find it, will have the perfect space for a shop :-)