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What Next?!?

September 7, 2011

I’m very much a “what next!?” type of person, for better or for worse.

I graduated college, and after stopping for a break to get adjusted to the working world, I promptly started on my M.S. degree.  This was my big side project for years.  I moved to California (yay!), switched graduate programs, losing 3 credits, but accelerating my pace with the quarter system.  I finally got my degree in late 2009.

I started 2010 with wedding planning/having, vacation planning/going, then I jumped into marathon training to fill my spare time and have a channel for my goal achieving energy.  My main focus since then has been reading and vacation planning.  It’s been super fun, but not exactly a long term plan for enrichment.

So… The question of “what next?” has been floating through my mind pretty much all year, but it has become louder and louder since I got back from vacation.  Here are the main things I’ve been considering

1.  I could take my blog (or more likely, a new version of my blog) as a more serious thing and turn it into more of a hobby/business and try to get into some freelance writing.  I’m not fooled – I know this is a LOT of hard work and requires a lot of drive & energy.

2.  I could train for another marathon.  (At any rate, I do want to be running more, but marathon training is a whole ‘nother level of dedication.)

3.  I could throw my energy into career development type things.

4.  I could throw my energy into personal development type things.

I have thought a lot about these options.  Despite the opportunity for extra income, #1 seems the least compelling at this point.  The only reason I’ve considered it so often is because I’m jealous of all the bloggers attending the PF conference and want to have a business so I can go  AND I can write off the expenses for it.  And I could get a netbook and that probably could be a business expense.   Ha.  Sorry, not good enough reasons.  I really do not want to make my blog (or even my writing in general) a priority in my life.  I’m just not interested.

Number 2 is more compelling, but I really have to start with another half.  Half marathons are not so time demanding and probably a better fit for right now.

That leaves number 3 & 4, which seem like really good places to put my energy right now.  I feel like I have a lot of opportunities for things to come together in my career in the next year or two.  I also feel like things I should do to improve myself as a person overlap with things that I should do to improve at work.

Except, 3 & 4 are vague statements.  What specifically do I want to do?   I have been thinking about how to make them concrete, and how to do it in small enough steps that I don’t overwhelm myself.  It is scary to truly allow and force myself to grow in areas I have avoided because they are uncomfortable.  More to come on this, once I have a better idea of what I want to do.  (But if you’ve ever embarked on a similar goal, please speak up in the comments!  Or email me!  Just curious.)

10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2011 6:27 am

    I suggest joining a professional organization related to your job and start hunting down a not-for-profit you are really passionate about and get involved. Try to take this one beyond volunteer days and see if you can get on their board, on their event planning arm, or in some sort of more in depth role. Another thought would be to pick up season tickets (spendy, yes) to something with the arts that you normally wouldn’t. With season tickets you’ll get to know the people in the seats around you and make some connections.

    • September 7, 2011 6:57 am

      Really good suggestions – thank you!

    • September 7, 2011 1:43 pm

      I was just tell SP that once she figured it out, to let us know because I have no idea what’s next either…that sounds like something I could do. Thanks!

  2. September 7, 2011 3:56 pm

    Walnut has good suggestions. I would also suggest joining Toastmasters to improve presentation skills / public speaking or volunteering in a way that allows you to develop new skills. There’s a website that tries to match professionals with nonprofits but I forget the website url! This is a good time to develop your career. Perhaps a mentor in your field could also be helpful.

    • September 11, 2011 11:21 am

      Toastmasters has been on my list of “maybe” for such a long time – but it’s a bit scary. However, that’s kind of the whole point of the exercise I think.

      I have many people I consider mentors, but I’m always looking to collect more 🙂 If you think of the website, let me know, but I did find 3 that might be a good fit for me right now!

  3. September 8, 2011 10:17 am

    I am the same way about ‘what’s next?’ Right now I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with my career. I feel like I’ve developed a bunch of “soft skills” that makes it hard for me to move to other fields. So I’m not sure what to do or where to go next. I just had coffee with a professor who told me whatever I choose to do next will most likely be what I end up doing because of life and circumstances. It is true and so I need to take the time to figure that out.

    Sigh. I’m not sure if I’m as big of a proponent of a liberal arts degree as I used to be.

  4. September 8, 2011 7:57 pm

    I agree with Walnut. A non-profit would probably be a good fit. That or a baby 🙂

    • September 11, 2011 11:20 am

      haha! No baby yet – maybe in a year or two. 🙂

  5. September 11, 2011 2:11 pm

    I was just having this “What’s Next?” conversation last weekend! No matter how compelling this work is here, this life is, or how busy it is, I (and others) can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a better way we should be doing things or a path we should be exploring next/instead/in addition.

    It’s not precisely dissatisfaction but it’s not NOT that either.

    So I’d say numbers 3 and 4 are almost good in their vagueness because they offer you such scope for trying new things. Then again, if the wide expanse of the unknown isn’t thrilling, that’s maybe less great.

    During unemployment, I ventured into Toastmasters but didn’t go back – I guess I just didn’t feel like I fit with that specific group or I wasn’t committed enough to that challenge, but it still seems like a good idea if you haven’t done your public speaking stint.

    Professionally, it’s always been (a little) easier to push forward to grow just because I get grumpy about not making “enough” money and so I seek out ways to show concrete progress to back up my reasons for a raise but the intangible skills are a little harder to tackle. But “easier” just means the path is a bit clearer, I suppose. Hm, I’m not helpful at all. 🙂 I guess I’ll just trot back home and post about this when I have something.

    • September 11, 2011 4:14 pm

      Yes, share if you think of something!

      Showing concrete professional progress – I assume this is very industry/job specific. Because I’m never even sure how to do that part. My responsibilities have grown and it’s noticeable, but I do not know if I could show concrete steps or tangible skills. It’s all very fuzzy. Nor do I know what the next concrete steps are. I have no clear path. Hmph!

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