Wednesday, January 31, 2018

One month in: What have I learned in my process of self-reflection?

Honestly, I haven't really learned anything new. Nor have I come closer to making a decision about my life (hence why I intend this to be a multi-month process).

For the month of January I took a pretty standard approach to decision making.

Step 1: Identify the decision to be made
What kind of career or job do I want to have, or what kind of career or job do I think would make me most happy?

I wonder if this is an over simplification of the decision to be made, or perhaps, I'm trying to put this decision into too simple of terms. It's what I've decided to build on, which might get hashed out better in subsequent months and styles of decision making.

Step 2: Identify alternatives
As I see it, I have 2 paths I can follow.

Librarianship/Research: For the purpose of this exercise I see librarianship and research as the same option, or that they have the same value. Both represent the more 'standard' job. Both would likely be reasonably steady hours, greater pay, and rely on my degree and work experience. In a year's time I'd be looking into courses on stats, or research methods, or librarian-related courses to improve my job prospects.

Aerials/Writing: Unlike the above, these are not exactly the same job, but I feel like to do one, it might require the other because there isn't a lot of money to be made at either. This would definitely be the path of the artist. In year 2 of this process I'd be focusing on taking further aerial teacher training, and figuring out how to market my current books, while writing a new one.

Step 3: Identify uncertainties
One of the biggest problems I have is coming to peace with my level of income and my contribution to the Milne household. I have a lot of wants which require money: nice clothing, nice house, fun vacations, good food, good wine, a car in good working order.

If I choose the librarian/research path, my income won't be much of an uncertainty, but it's a huge one if I choose the aerials/writer path.

Building on this is, what is it that makes me happy? A small part of me thinks (or maybe just imagines), if I figure out what will make me happy, the choice of career will become obvious. Some beacon will shine out of the fog of my life and tell me what I'm supposed to do with myself. Then the whole income level won't matter because I'll be happy, and isn't that the most important thing in life?

Step 4: Gather relevant information
I took this stage as coming up with a list of pros and cons. I repeated this exercise on a couple of different nights, thinking I might have slightly different insights on different nights, then compared what I came up with.

Elements I would consider important in a job:
  • Ability to be physically active.
  • Ability to have creative outlets.
  • Some flexibility in hours to allow for: being available to Ruth if she needs me during the day; occasionally volunteering with a charity.
  • Yet some consistent number of hours a week (anywhere between 15 and 20, I think).
  • If not receiving benefits, being paid sufficiently to offset not having them.
Elements I would dislike in a job: (which may basically be the opposite of my list of pros)
  • Inconsistent hours or schedule OR too ridged a schedule interfering with the amount of time I can spend with Ruth and Andrew.
  • A desk job where I sit all day.
  • No opportunities to exercise my creativity.
  • Low/little income, and/or no benefits.
  • Too much time spent alone OR little social interaction.
Step 5: Make a decision
As I stated above, I wasn't necessarily expecting to come out of this single exercise with a final decision. I can't deny, however, certain elements: physical activeness; creativity; flexibility; at least some interaction with others, are jumping out at me.

You would think at this point the signs would be pretty clear, but there's that uncertainty I identified. How much or little income am I comfortable with? That is what I need to figure out.

I had a dream last night (after having written the bulk of this blog post) that seemed aptly timed (and rather suggestive):

I was at Base Camp at Mount Everest. Andrew and Ruth were with me to wish me luck, but I was getting cold feet. I wasn't sure I wanted to go on the climb (the success rate is low, many people die). Additionally, I was supposed to go to Australia (I'm not sure where this came from) after I was finished the climb, meaning I wasn't going to see Andrew and Ruth for weeks. In the end, I decided to stay at the base of Mount Everest, to spend time with my husband and daughter.

A much smaller 'mount' I actually scaled. The Notch, in Jasper National Park, on the Jasper Skyline Trail.
I still remember worrying as we climbed The Notch that I had gotten us into something I shouldn't have, as Andrew was suffering from a bad head cold at the time.
That was a heck of a day, 20+ km, 3 mountain passages.
Until next time.



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