This blog is part of a bigger experiment that began in earnest a few months ago. I have never had a good answer to the question “What do you want to do?” when it comes to deciding on a career. I have always felt like I didn’t know what I wanted to do and despite doing a lot of courses of various kinds in areas that interested me – helping professions, literature and writing, and training – but none of them manifested as an actual career. In the meantime I have had a successful working life in administration and IT. This feeling of not knowing, and the disconnect between my education and my work has always bothered me, but I didn’t know what to do about it. Just doing more courses that led nowhere did not seem to be the answer. Something else needed to be addressed.
Recently it occurred to me that I did have ideas about to do, but that I was instinctively blocking them before they had a chance to develop into anything concrete. Instead of paying attention and picking up on my own instinctive direction, I was trying to work out what I should do, and drive myself along in that direction. This would account for the courses that led nowhere, because my heart was not in them.
Earlier this year I decided to embark on an experiment to listen to my instincts and stop blocking myself from acting on the few ideas that I did have. I resigned from my job of 8 years and went overseas for six weeks. Now I am back home, living cheaply on my savings, paying attention to what comes up.
What came up next was unexpected, the desire to go through my belongings and simplify. It began with letting go of some large items of furniture in the garage, which allowed me to sort though a whole lot of other things that had been inaccessible. Not working has allowed me to spend a few weeks of concerted effort on sorting through everything I own and discarding what I don’t want or need. I also found myself attracted to minimalism, and recognised my own inherent minimalist tendencies, which explained why I was never really convinced that working full time until I was 67 pay off a tiny and inadequate unit (which I sold a couple of years ago) was a good use of my life.
I think the garage clean out is coming to an end for the time being, and a new unexpected idea has emerged – that I might be able to help other people who are having difficulty managing their stuff. A “declutter partner”. I don’t know if this idea is going to get off the ground, but it has certainly taken me by surprise. The decluttering process seems very mundane, even trivial, but it is very confronting to face momentos of the past. Being free of those belongings is about a lot more than being able to get the car in to the garage.
The other idea that is emerging is that pursing the helping professions was a dead end because at the end of the day, I don’t really have a vocation to help people in that way. I thought I should want to be a counsellor or groupworker or community worker, but I don’t. My interest in personal development is mainly about MY development. It didn’t work to try to turn that into a job when my heart was not in it. My interest is more in the direction of creative pursuits such as writing and photography, so I am going to explore that.
So here I am, jobless, thinking about writing and photography, and resisting the temptation to rush straight out and get a “real job”. I have no idea what is going to happen next, but I have never been happier.