Expanding the mind to expand the social circle

One of the items in my escape plan is to widen my networks and to attend some Meetups. Expand my mind whilst meeting like minded individuals – expand my social circle – that’s the goal.

Yesterday evening I attended my first Meetup which was organised by Interesting Talks. The talk was by Robert Kelsey, author of various self help type books, most recently The Outside Edge: How Outsiders can Succeed in a World Made by Insiders.

Having never been to a Meetup  before I didn’t know what to expect or who would be there. Nor did I really research the author or the book beforehand. The title seemed relevant and I needed to force myself to take that step. This was really the primary objective – to book and attend.

As someone who isn’t keen on networking or being forced to talk to new people, doing this is pushing me out of my comfort zone. I mean, I can go and talk to people, I just don’t particularly enjoy ‘networking’. I have not really developed or excelled in that skill as yet but it is one I need to develop and fast.

Today I spoke to one person, the guy sitting next to me, as we were given tasks throughout the talk. It was fine because we were given a topic to discuss. This immediately removed the usual awkwardness I may have felt when making small talk.

I felt Robert Kelsey’s talk was a bit mediocre, particularly as I’ve listened to a far more engaging and inspirational talk on career change  recently by The Escape School. More about Esc later.

Robert described the traits of an Outsider and we were asked to score ourselves based on his list of outsider traits.  The list is debatable. I felt that I was able to relate to some aspects more than others. I tried to score more objectively as opposed to score against how my job makes me currently feel as I’d get quite extreme results.

For example I can be a cynic and quite negative however that is situation and circumstance dependent. I can be extremely positive when the environment is right.

Overall I would  class myself as an outsider because I genuinely don’t feel that I belong in a corporate environment. I have a desire to be different and I oppose convention.

My desire to seek and provide solutions means I often operate outside any given boxes, purely because often that is where the solution may lie. I feel constrained by people who aren’t able to look outside of what’s provided. He said that outsiders are entrepreneurs.

The rest of the session revolved around making plans to help get you to where you want to be. Visualize where you’d like to be in 10 years. I struggled with this resulting  in me losing interest.

Providing me with a picture of a house and a car doesn’t appeal to my senses. That’s not what I aspire to. I can just about work out where I’d like to be in 8 months and am working on my plan to get me there, 10 years was beyond me. I could be dead before then!

As someone who focuses on innovation, I am also aware that technology changes rapidly. What I plan for 10 years may actually completely redundant by then. It might be redundant in 5 years.

I believe in flexibility. Having an awareness about transferable skills will be more beneficial as is managing change and creating direction in your life. By having a 10 year plan, there is a feeling that you are tied into the plan. This doesn’t allow for other avenues to be traversed.

I agree I need a plan but I believe there are more effective ways to plan which weren’t covered.

The talk may not have been to my benefit but I attended an event. This is the first small step into the murky waters of networking.  Next action point is to book another event. The idea is I get used to meeting and talking to new people. Do it enough it so it becomes natural.

Identifying what I do and don’t enjoy

I quite enjoyed the end of the last week.  I was facilitating a training session on ‘what is innovation and how can we be more creative’. This is another aspect of my role that I quite enjoy.

This is precisely what I mean about not hating or disliking my job as there are some aspects I really enjoy. I just find the bureaucracy suffocating and lack of direction irritating.

One of the things people suggest you do when you feel miserable about your working life is work out which aspects you do or don’t like. Is it the job or is it the organisation? Would it be different if you took on a similar role at another organisation?

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about this. I enjoy:

  • Facilitating sessions on innovation and creativity.
  • Facilitating ideation workshops.
  • Designing – workshops, products.
  • Inspiring people.
  • Witnessing change in behaviour.
  • I even enjoy the numbers side – creating budgets and am pretty good at developing forecasting models.

What I don’t like is:

  • Lack of clarity/direction
  • Lack of focus
  • Unclear objectives/parameters to work to
  • Fundraising

The fundamental change I require is to leave fundraising behind, this means identifying a career path that is different to the one that I have known for the last 10 or so years, but what is it and how do I get there?  i have some ideas that I will explore in future blogs.

With a clear focus comes excitement

It’s funny,  once I have a focus my time suddenly disappears. Previously I felt like I was drifting in a big ocean in a small rowing boat with no sight of land in any direction. My days would drag and I would feel miserable.

These days I have a renewed energy as I strive to tick off all the things on my project plan, which will result in me leaving behind a job I no longer desire to do.

With this renewed energy however comes a new problem. An overactive brain. My brain won’t switch off, resulting in me gaining all of 2.5hours sleep last night.

My sleeplessness is partly related to the excitement behind the prospect of escaping my  job but also the feeling generated when I am actually doing work I enjoy.

I suffer many emotional ups and downs in my  job and it’s really driving me insane. Last week I had a roller coaster of a week. A project I had been trying to get off the ground for the past 3 months was finally gaining some traction. Hooray! I thought. Two days later the project ground to a massive halt (for some completely ridiculous reasons) which resulted in my boss and I withdrawing our budget from the delivery managers and pulling the plug.

I had finally lost the fight in me. It was a very sad state of affairs. The worse part being I felt it reflected really badly on me despite the fact I followed every single bureaucratic bit of red tape. I (along with a few others and a group of young people- target audience)wanted to make something amazing happen. We were so close, alas we were shot down. Needless to say I was brutally wounded in that battle.

Anyway, being the resilient individual that I am, I vowed to find another revolutionary project to work on. I am meant to be a product designer after all.

A colleague contacted me about a project she needed help getting off the ground. After some thought I realised how it could be mutually beneficial.  To cut to the chase I’ve found a new project, in the confines of ‘work’, to get stuck into. Because I am interested, I work so much more efficiently and effectively. A renewed focus on delivery. With this comes my over active mind and the tendency to get carried away with ideas and plans, and general excitement.

An exciting project at work alongside my own super fantastic personal escape plan – can you imagine what my mind is like?

I shall add mindfulness to my list of things I need to be doing!

Destination: Unknown

So I’ve finally got round to starting the blog.  In my head, I have already written at least three posts but time has been scarce and I’ve had a lot of things to do.

I’ve decided 2016 will be a year of massive change for me career wise.  I have felt stuck for a while, but after returning from a holiday to North Sulawesi, Indonesia earlier this year, and suffering from some terrible post holiday blues, I felt I really needed to act.

It’s not that I hate my job, it’s just I feel underwhelmed by it. I feel constricted in my current organisation and I feel like I am wasting my life there. Over the past year I have done a lot of self study on innovation in order to help me in my role but I feel like I am developing at a pace that is too fast for my employer and I feel like I have outgrown the organisation.

I work for a charity and ultimately I am a fundraiser. Although over the last year I have been working on designing and developing fundraising products as opposed to actually delivering campaigns. I enjoy the type of role I do, but I feel I am in the wrong place for it. Besides, I no longer want to be a fundraiser.  I want to help people and communities and actually seeing the direct impact of the work I do.

Being a goal oriented person, I’ve always found that I am at my happiest when I am striving to achieve something.  I don’t operate well when I am drifting; I feel completely lost and without purpose. Making the decision to change my career has provided me with a renewed focus, but it’s a huge step and I can’t say I’m not scared.

There are a lot of unknowns.  The biggest being I don’t really know where I am heading. I have a few ideas but nothing concrete and that is frightening.  How can I possibly quit a job to chase an unknown?

Thankfully for me, I have already taken some steps to validate I’m making the correct decision.  I’ll write more about this soon but for now, I have made a choice and I’m focused on sticking to it.  I want to live a life that I will find more fulfilling. One that I can be proud of. I know myself well enough to trust that I will make it work.

Onwards and upwards to destination: unknown.  Anyone fancy coming along for the ride?