Monday, March 19, 2012
What's Next? Beginnings
It's been about 10 weeks now, and I'm starting to get my fill of just hanging around the house doing craft projects. I'm starting to venture out, exploring my immediate neighborhood as well as the big beehive of activity that is Washington, DC. Some of it is just for fun, but I am also looking for ideas and connections to help me answer the question, "What's next?"
Friends of mine who are struggling with involuntary unemployment are plying me with advice on job-searching groups, internet job sites, and other resources they are using. They warn me that, in the current job market, I had better start looking for a job ASAP. They may be right, but what I'm looking for now goes much deeper than just finding a new employer. Getting the money spigot flowing again is necessary, but not sufficient.
This afternoon, I was hanging out at the local library while I waited for a call from my auto mechanic. I found a comfortable chair in the "job resources" section, and my eye was drawn to a book called Don't Waste Your Talent. I leafed through the pages, pausing to read the bits that looked interesting. What do you know? The authors recommend setting aside a significant period of time to focus your attention on your plans for the next phase of your life. They were talking about several hours a week rather than taking a whole year off, but they were adamant that this effort requires more than the occasional 15 minutes of "found time" between meetings and phone calls. They also recommended thinking outside your usual channels and assumptions and getting right down to what really resonates with you. Well, what do you know. That's exactly what I'm doing.
My decision-making process seems to involve a fairly lengthy (and frustrating) period of not knowing where to start or which way to go. Analysis paralysis is an old familiar friend. I can easily accumulate so many facts and figures and personal insights that I can't move. This seems to go on for an eternity, making me lose hope that I will ever land on what I really want, and thinking that maybe I should just settle for the next thing that comes along.
Experience tells me that if I just relax and think about something else for a while, a moment will come (I can't predict when) where I am ready to decide. More often than not, some choice will present itself at a most unexpected moment, and I find myself saying, "Yes. I want that." Looking back, I find that I have made some of my best decisions that way.
There's nothing magic about this. The process doesn't work if I don't do my research and identify my priorities and values. All the knowledge is in my head, but the micromanaging scrutiny of my conscious mind has to focus somewhere else so that the tender young sprout that is my brand new idea can grow strong and begin to bud.
So if I don't join your career group or check your job listing site, please don't take offense. I'm listening to you, and adding your insights to the stash of information that I'm processing right now. I'm also protecting my little green sprout, because it's not ready to stand the full glare of public exposure just yet. Be patient.