It's December 1.
Just a little more than a year since I left my full-time job to pursue the freelance life.
Just a little less than a year since I started this blog.
Eight months since I turned 40, and began my #40before41 journey.
In some ways, I know I've come a long way in that time. Yet, in other ways, I'm still struggling with the same issues — they just look different.
Over the past few weeks, I've been (once again) hitting a "what am I doing with my life" wall. I can literally count:
- the number of new activities I've tried;
- the incredibly awesome new friends I've made and the friendships I've had time to nurture;
- the yoga classes I've taught;
- the #newrecipeaweek dishes I've cooked;
- the puppies I've fostered; and
- the articles I've had published during 2014.
And yet ... And. Yet.
I feel like I'm missing something. (Money, for one, but that's a topic for another post.)
I've been reading a lot of career coach Laura Simm's work over at her website, Create as Folk. One of the questions Laura asks in her playsheets (free when you sign up to receive her also-free "Get Paid For Being You" videos) is:
What do you want to be known for?
I drew a blank. Well, actually, I drew a lovely question mark in the open space to the right of the question on my paper in a beautiful shade of forest green.
I'm really good at dabbling. I've always been really good at dabbling. And thankfully, when it came to my former full-time gigs, I had bosses who were supportive of my dabbling because there were always side projects that needed someone to take them on. I like a challenge, and creating new things, and so, voila. Stuff landed on my plate. I ended up with a rabbit's run of a job description and a job title that always had to be explained.
When I think about it, even a good chunk of my #40before41 project is a whole lot of dabbling. Now don't get me wrong. There's benefit in dabbling. I believe you can't ever really understand something if you haven't tried it at least once. And there's just something awesome about accessing the beginner's mind and/or facing a fear through the process.
But there's also confusion in dabbling when your professional life starts to feel like a series of a little bit here, a little bit there.
I teach a little yoga.
I edit a little.
I shoot photos, irregularly.
I consult a little (and volunteer) with nonprofits.
I write a little for a couple different publications ... sometimes about hot-off-the-press novels, sometimes about vegan eats, sometimes about conversations with Taylor Swift and Norah Jones, sometimes about Doctor Who. Sometimes about doing things for the first time, like taking a body slam by a pro-wrestler or dancing burlesque. And sometimes about serious social issues like LGBTQ rights and rape and youth suicide.
I'm not sure what I want to be known for, but I don't think being a dabbler is it.
Of course, I know I need to dig deeper. And Laura pushed me (via some tweets) to do so when I reached out to her. She asked me:
How do you want people to remember you? How does it feel when you think of being known for a specific thing?
This was my response:
I want to be remembered ... as kind/compassionate/giving. I enjoy connecting people: be it to others, the world around us, or to a deeper sense of self. (On a side note, I also enjoy feeling connected to others, the world around me, and a deeper self of myself.)
Her response? "Good. Now do more of that."
I'm sitting on a fence right now. In the yard to my left, the dabbler in me, who thinks, 'oh how I love dabbling,' and wonders if perhaps it's not the dabbling that's the issue. Perhaps it's the framing. The way I think and feel about what I do and how I do it — and therefore how I present what I do to a potential client.
In the yard on the right, the woman with bills to be paid, who wonders if a wee bit of focus might help with direction and with my goal of financial independence. As Laura might say (actually, has, on her website),
There are still ways you can access multiple passions through one business or career. It probably just won’t look like you thought it would.
So that's where I'm at, what I'm (cough, cough) dabbling in right now. I'm open to any and all inspiration, and curious how those of you out there answer the question:
What do you want to be known for?