For a few months now, since the end of 2015 to be specific, there has been a pretty big shift in how I have been looking at life, work and career. Suddenly, I felt the goal posts were shifting in ways I never thought they would. I am perhaps coming across as incredibly indecisive on this blog alone, but that’s what crossroads, especially ones at my age, are meant to do. The churn and grind of separating the wheat from the chaff. The least I can do is to be honest about it.
It’s been an overwhelming year. One that unfolded somewhat like this, starting January –
- Get an itch
- Have a small-ish big idea, nurture it, plan for it, reach for the ready line all pumped up and excited and ready to kill it
- Then That Guy Up There decides to fulfill an old wish instead
- Live THAT dream – andhra meals and filter coffee and earthy long drives and everything, go with the flow
- Get a little intimidated by your own plans and the amount of uncertainty they present while loving everything else about the fulfilling of this dream
- Decide to put yourself in the same career box that you were trying to get out of a few months ago
- Come face to face with everything that is so awesome about staying in the box – fun people, decent and more importantly, regular pay cheque, 4 pm coffee, small wins
- Get over-enthusiastic till you realize that only the box has changed, the heartburns are probably worse. You knew ALL ABOUT THEM but more importantly, you knew what it does to a person like you
- It shouldn’t be a vicious circle but it can be, for someone who feels as strongly about things as I do, someone who can be idealistic or worse, has a slightly odd perspective on work, life, ambition, and achievement. A perspective that neither fits in the world of “winners” nor “losers”. Someone who has spent a lifetime feeling like a square peg in a round hole. And someone who knows they could deal with all of the heartburns and trade offs at any other point in life except this one.
I wish I could go into the details but I can’t. Definitely not without what might seem like wallowing in self pity. So we will leave it at that.
In the middle of all this, I am mostly just annoyed with myself for just not being able to make up my mind up until that one defining moment. For appearing to be indecisive. And the line I have been in for a better part of the decade, appearances matter.
You would think that on the wrong side of the 30s, I’d know exactly what I wanted out of my career or worse, I’d have achieved it already. Tell you what. For all practical purposes, I have “achieved” what needed to be “achieved” in all these years, in the most old school sense of the word. A resume that looks good, choices that are all mine, client endorsements, timely promotions and enough money to feel like the “strong headed but very cool agency slave” I (sometimes) pretend to be. But something has been amiss. At least right now. It could be temporary, a fork stuck in the road, a version of me that this part of my life needs me to be. And I know that my special box of pay cheques and review cycles will not get close to scratching this particular itch.
In my mind, I know what will. But it needs me to be brave. To not just settle for the comfort, 4 pm coffees, camaraderie and trade offs (the many, many trade offs) of my box. I thought I got over the need to do this, to question myself and my life goals. But clearly, I haven’t. And tell you what, despite what it makes me appear to be, I am thanking my stars for giving me the flexibility that lets me do this.
It’s time. This time around, I hope I will have the balls to stay still and figure out what I had set out to. Hopefully I will have the foolhardiness to do it, if that’s what it takes. To find that sweet spot of doing what I am good at and achieving a little more than reviews, small, insignificant wins, and incremental edits on the pay cheque out of it. I will ward off the slow days and boredom with all the new (old, really) avenues that have opened up since we moved homes – family and responsibilities, old old friends, earthy cafes, a bit of travel, and bus rides to the hills. I will write all about it. And I will not let minor changes in life direction come in the way of doing all the things my heart says I need to in this next one year. Watch this space.