Recently, colleagues have been reaching out asking for my advice on what to do next in their lives and careers. To draw out the answers to these questions, I pose questions of my own to them.
One colleague is profoundly passionate about a specific cause and wanted to start a nonprofit, and even though they were well-positioned to do so, the thought didn’t seem to line up with them as a creative. So, to get to the root of this, I told my colleague what I’ll tell you: You have to ask yourself where and how you want to spend your time.
In my colleague’s case, I explained that a nonprofit is a complex organization that requires different roles to further its mission. For example, you need a grant writer, which is extremely time-consuming and may deplete your creative side if you decide to take on this role yourself.
Alternatively, I posed a different way my colleague could approach championing their cause in a way that fit their character and creativity. Instead of starting a nonprofit, I suggested they write shows that authentically showcase and address their cause. I referenced a popular TV show that already touches this subject and explained how that might be a good example of acceptance and might encourage my friend to pursue their own show.
Thinking more expansively about how you can use your creative talents to achieve your goals is crucial. What this does is open up other possibilities; there are infinite ways to move forward.
In the movie, What About Bob? Bill Murray’s character stands outside to face the scary world, and to rally himself, he says, “baby steps.” This is exactly how you build progress. Taking a baby step leads to confidence, leading to another baby step — you get the idea. Remember, you can always change your direction; it’s your life after all. Be sure to wrap up any commitments or renegotiate so you do not leave someone “abandoned” from your former path.
Another colleague of mine is amazing in their sector, really, a genius, but they took a job at a very mundane place to get healthcare coverage. I understand this line of thinking — but it is sad not to see people doing what they do best. This experience taught them that they need to find a way to balance getting their healthcare covered and keeping the “genius” implemented.
It may take time, but dig a little deeper into your options, moonlight, pivot or stay. The choice to move in a new direction is always there, and there are always options. Keep in mind, I once sold silk floral arrangements out of the trunk of my car to pay bills (they were pretty and I was bold) while holding a full-time mundane job.
Maybe it’s time to get a poster board in a fun color and write down only your accomplishments, starting from an early age. This way you can see your growth — the positives that came out of all the self-doubt you may have felt about yourself. These accomplishments can be as simple as taking a singing lesson, finishing a project or learning to ski. It’s inspiring to see all you’ve done; every item on that list adds up to a whole lot of positive accomplishments. I recommend doing a recap of your accomplishments every ten years; seeing all you have achieved over the years can fuel your future success. Sometimes we are unable to see how close we are to achieving what we want most.
So which of those accomplishments has the fondest memories? Find something in that sector to start in, and perhaps volunteer for a day or intern for a month to see. Simply move in a direction you think you may like instead of staying in an unfulfilling place or throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.