A Journey to Vocational Freedom: Focusing your Dreams with Goals
Instead of a how-to article, or even a "Top 10" list, I want to tell you part of my own story. I've tried to put this into a list, tried to make it into something else, and I just keep coming back to the story. There's something about this story that is true: far more true than any list or set of steps. So this is for all of you out there who (like me!) learn better through stories than anything else.
For years, I've wanted to work independently. I'm not made to work in box, nor is my natural sleep cycle conducive to the usual working hours. I don't believe in following the rules just because they're there, so I'm not exactly a dream employee for most bosses (though I should be...but I won't go into that here). I think I always figured it would just happen; someday, somewhere, someone would offer me a lucrative contract to do something that interests me on my own time.
(I'm still waiting.)
As I got more and more frustrated working a traditional job (and more and more tired, since I can't get myself to transition to a healthy sleep schedule), I wanted this kind of lifestyle even more. There's probably a direct correlation in there somewhere. I also got more frustrated as I continued to wonder, "Why isn't this happening to me?"
Sometime around last Christmas, I realized that this is not going to fall into my lap. Or, at least, I'm not willing to wait that long. So I'm going after what I really want. In the words of the Disney generation, I'm following my dreams. But I'm not following them to an idealistic crash-and-burn (I hope!). Instead, I'm pursuing them with research, knowledge and, most importantly, goals.
Setting actual, realistic, solid goals has been the hardest part of the process. When I began investigating freelancing and entrepreneurship, all I knew was that there HAD to be something I could do that would eventually get me out of the cube. Needless to say, that is NOT enough information to start a freelance career on! So my first goal was: Research the possibilities!
Now, a real goalsetter will tell you that that's not a real goal--it doesn't have a timeframe nor does is it specific. But it worked for me. It gave me something concrete that I could do in my spare moments that would help me go where I want to go. It focused the snark that was emerging with my frustration, and gave me something to do towards my ultimate goal. It helped me take the energy that was all balled up inside of me, that had nowhere to go, and do something with it.
I researched for weeks. At first, it was informal. I began watching social networking sites for relevant items. Soon, I had books to read and blogs that gave me more information daily. I found which search terms worked and which produced junk (i.e. lots of sites that say I can make thousands of dollars in 20 minutes a day. Those sites? Bogus.). Eventually, I began skipping articles because I already knew the information that was in them.
It's taken me quite a while to do that research, and I'm still probably not quite done yet. But I know where I want to go. Gradually, over time, the research helped me identify things I would (and would not!) be interested in doing. When I focused my frustrated, angry energy, I started doing something about my problem.
Now, I have a long-term goal. And I'm researching what needs to happen to fill in the short-term goals to help me get there. I'm still at my "real" job, but I'm not nearly as frustrated there because I'm working towards something new, and what that looks like is becoming more and more specific every day.
Oh, and in case you wanted to know (and I know you do...), my new ultimate goal? To be a freelance Jill-of-all-trades (or at least several of them)! I'm pursuing freelance writing in several fields while working on a longer book. I'm updating my web design skills and working on some free templates, in the hopes of getting started in that field (and to give myself the practice). And I'm pursuing even more spiritual direction clients than I already have. Eventually, I'd like to expand that side of my work to include leading retreats, possibly for corporations who care specifically about team-building and who value corporate storytelling.
Goodbye, cube-rats! Working on my laptop from Panera, here I come!
(Photo by Rick)