“You can’t ride a horse with two asses” is one of my favorite sayings, and comes to mind as I look at why my career search has been in limbo. First, let’s talk about the saying. I’m not even sure I have it correct, but that’s how I remember it, and it’s awesome.
I heard it from a powerlifting coach who was trying to get this basic point across: you can’t work on more than one goal at a time. I mean REALLY work on both. You can’t work on losing weight and at the same time put on slabs of muscle. Sure, you can work on both, but what will your real progress be? Glacial at best. Whereas, if you dedicate all of your resources to one goal, your chances for success improve vastly.
So, what does this have to do with my recent efforts to make a career change? Well, when I finally made the decision to resign from my job after 15 years, I developed a 6-week plan committing all of my resources toward learning and revising my portfolio for that next great position. It wasn’t an easy decision; I’m not independently wealthy. But something I truly felt was the right investment in my future.
Well, it’s around 6 weeks later, and although I made great progress in the beginning, I’m no farther than I was 3 weeks ago.
What happened? I started splitting my goals. Instead of sticking with my full court press to learning and portfolio building, I started networking… and then applying to jobs… and then picking up freelance gigs. As soon as I did that I compromised my singular goal of putting myself in the best position possible to apply for jobs.
Why did I do that? It’s human nature. Whether it’s fear over being unemployed, or one of the never-ending deluge of distractions, it’s easy to start losing sight of the big picture. I started making rationalizations:
Networking is an important part of finding a job. How many people get a position simply by submitting their resume?
Why not apply for this job? I may not have the portfolio but I know how to do the work.
I don’t have any income right now. This freelance buys me more time to job search.
It’s not like any of those ideas are far-fetched. They’re all true and have been valuable experiences. Through networking I’ve met some great people that may eventually be links to the next job. By applying for jobs I got comfortable with the interview process, learned about the market, and even had early success (with offers, but not the right fit). By doing freelance I earned extra money and got turned onto the idea of doing freelance full-time and the beauty of working from home.
Yet despite the positives, each has ultimately been a roadblock between me and my milestone of having an awesome portfolio, something that in my mind still forms the critical foundation to my job search. Even if I end up doing freelance full-time, people want to see what you can do, and I can do a lot.
Where I’ve settled is this. I’m going to complete the remaining obligations that I have in-progress and then take 2 weeks to dedicate myself to more learning and portfolio building.
I’ll check back in with you in mid-April. Hopefully by that point, you’ll see me riding into town on just one ass.