The interesting part of finding myself in the position that I’m in is how I got here. I wasn’t the person who from a young age knew exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up! Throughout my childhood and teenage years I had many interests mostly centered around building and creating…something that remains true to this day.
I spent many a hour creating new Lego masterpieces, tearing apart and rebuilding my assortment of radio controlled cars, learning to program my Commodore 64 computer, and installing new high-end audio gear in my cars. The act of creating and doing in many ways seemed to have been much more important than enjoying the final product. I think in some ways it was the act of learning something new and getting really good at it is what really motivated me.
In college it was much the same. I was a liberal artist to the extreme! I had a number of majors – education, ecology, geography, economics, History, Political Science, and pre-Law before ending my 5 years with dual degrees in History and Political Science and beginning a Master’s program in Political Science. Again the outcome seemed to be less important than the act of learning itself. However, one thing that did feel right was the environment, college was one place that seemed to fit me well.
It was during my time in college that I rediscovered my love (and aptitude) for computing having lucked my way into a work-study program in the Computer Science department. 7 semesters later (4 as a helper and 3 as a TA) I had amassed quite a wealth of knowledge and comfort working in the world of bits and bytes. Little did I know at the time that the experience would pave the way for most of what was to come in my career. My professional life since college has been filled many more examples of that type of lucking my way into things as opposed to having a clear direction.
Without making this post a complete autobiography focusing on where I’ve been, I’m really more interested in what it means to me moving forward. I guess the biggest questions in my mind today are how do I (a) parlay all of my past experiences into a meaningful, durable and lasting career and (b) go from a person that for the most part found his way into jobs by being at the right place at the right time? How do I transform what has been, at least to this point, a career based on serendipity, into something more focused?
Here’s what I know for sure…there’s no time like the present to figure out what’s next, after all I hate squandering rare opportunities! But is it time for retrenchment or revolution? Do I figure out exactly what it is I want to do even at the expense of starting from scratch or do I look at what I’ve done, what I know and what I seemed to have accelled at and use that as my new baseline? It would seem that either option, at least from my perspective, comes with it’s own set of benefits and drawbacks and either could lead me to the end goal that I’m seeking. It’s a unique challenge!
The bottom line for me is that whatever course I plot for myself has to lead me to a destination where I can find enjoyment and fulfillment in what I do, where I can ultimately make a difference in the world around me, where I can earn enough to provide for my family, and where I can strike a reasonable balance between my life at work and my life outside of work. Knowing these things to be non-negotiable, I can now start figuring out the specifics of what I want to do and where I want to go. No small task, but a challenge that I finally feel ready to face!
For those that are listening and either know me personally or through my blog what would you do (or have done) if/when faced with a similar situation? Of all of the things that I can do which do you see me best at/most passionate about? I’m not looking for you to figure this out for me -only I can do that – rather I’m just looking for some external perspective!