...and I find it really difficult to write "at work" because I still haven't fully accepted that I have "a job" again.
Last year I had work that really jazzed me (my own biz: coaching writers, giving writing and personal growth workshops, freelance writing - and peppered with some of my 'old stuff' - arts marketing/pr) but the financial stuff had been really challenging in the last couple of years. I never felt particularly well suited for the business of my business, but I liked the work itself. When the financial forecast failed to improve significantly the work became less jazzified; I felt like Sisyphus, but I kept on keepin' on ... hoping things would improve.
Then in March (at the anniversary of my mother's death) I joined my father for a week at the "snowbird home" in Florida they'd bought when he retired. While I was there I spent much of my time stressed about how I really couldn't afford to take a week off and how shitty it was that things were so tight that I couldn't take a week off around the anniversary of my mother's death without stressing and how horribly that sucked. Was I crazy?
I know that some people around me were beginning to wonder; I invested my life savings in this biz and it wasn't flying. Maybe I was nuts. Something had to change, and since I'd tried just about everything I could think of to infuse the biz with some real juice (except hire help, which i couldn't afford to do) (ah, the catch 22!), I had to consider some radical options. Maybe I didn't have what it took to be a solopreneur. Maybe I wasn't cut out for the solo life. (for those of you who know the myers briggs stuff, i'm an ENFP - can you imagine it? i must be crazy to think about being a one-person shop!)
And so I began thinking about getting a job again.
When I got home from Florida I began doing some preliminary networking. And within 5 weeks, I had a job offer. The gig wasn't ideal, but the company does good work, they aren't far from my home, and they have good benefits (the all important health insurance that we solo folk pay out the wazoo for); I decided to believe that the universe was behind this nearly effortless job hunt, and so I took the gig.
I still think the universe conspired to get me into this job - so I'd get a bit more financial breathing room - and a chance to re-think my work and my direction. But the job itself? Not a great fit.
I'm still doing a bit of my biz on my off hours, and it's nice not to feel urgency when potential new clients call. If they want to work with me, fine - let's hope I can fit them in my schedule. If they don't, no biggie - I'll still pay all my bills and sock some dinero away too. I love my writing groups but instead of struggling to grow them, I now host just one per month. Every once in a while I take a speaking engagement or do a specialty workshop, which I enjoy. I do miss being able to take all the writing assignments that come my way, but I have less free time now; thank goodness I do most of my work with an editor who is a goddess who still sends me on lots of fun assignments, takes me with her on fun outings, and doesn't stop calling if I can't do every article she'd like me to.
I have no idea what's next for my work/direction. I'm in this challenging, exciting, scary place of exploration. I'd like to find work that uses my experience, strengths and gifts in an environment that I feel aligned with/to ... and one that will make it possible for me to pay my bills now, and (wow, wouldn't this be nice?) retire while I'm young-ish enough to enjoy it.
For years I thought I had to find "the job" or THE line of work, but now I'm thinking that maybe it isn't just one thing. (in spite of what jack palance said in city slickers) For a while I thought coaching/writing and workshopping was it. Maybe it still is; I'm not sure. What I find particularly curious is that the coaching part of my biz has primarily centered around helping people find their voice/road (usually with the help of a writing practice) and then encouraging them to unleash all that stuff in their lives. So why has it been such a challenge for me? (we teach what we need to learn?)
Well, this weekend I'm going to do a one-on-one 'career retreat' to help me make some sense of it all. Hope to get some insight, new perspective and an idea of where to start moving next.
When I look back on my life I can't remember when I wasn't on a journey of exploration, but sometimes I wish I could just coast. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who was content to work at Bigbusiness Corp. with my 401K and pension and all that. Sometimes I wish I didn't hear that different drummer.
But as a dear friend of mine used to say (hide your eyes here young ones): Wish in one hand, shit in the other ... and see which fills up faster.
Oh, thank you universe (she said with just a hint of irony), another delightful !#%@! growth opportunity!