In Part I we talked about the mindset of asking for permission, often implicitly, for engaging in an area that interests us. The question we were asking was this:
Who can give me what I want?
Now I'm going to be discussing a strategy I've begun to use, that has helped me to gain more control over the direction my life takes.
An Old Habit
I'll demonstrate how this has played out, in a small way, in my own life. Recently I've realized how much I remain fascinated by, and interested in, tech products. I follow a variety of tech blogs, and they comprise most of the news that I read on a daily basis. Even when I was at Microsoft I thought a great deal about the product I was working on, other products that Microsoft was creating, its decisions and strategies as a company, other companies in tech and how they were positioning themselves, etc.
In 2014 as I was enjoying my year sabbatical and thinking deeply about what I wanted to involve myself in next, I kept returning to this interest in tech products. I wanted to be involved in thinking about the tech industry, in discussing products and strategies, and I wanted an audience that would listen to what I had to say. So I did what I always did at that point, I asked myself:
Who can give me what I want?
The answer I came to was tech blogs. There are several very popular ones that I enjoyed reading, so I began to investigate how to get a job on staff with them, so that I could get paid to think about and write about the tech industry. After looking at their requirements however, I realized that I'd have to move to one of the coasts and work there in person, and that I didn't have any of the experience they were looking for, so my chances for getting hired were slim.
I was discouraged. Here was something I wanted, but wasn't in a position to obtain. With my former mindset I either needed someone to hire me, basically give me what I want, or drop the idea entirely.
After about a year I realized there was another way available to me. I started to wonder why was it that I believed I needed permission to talk about the tech industry, to write product reviews, to dissect corporate strategy? Why did I need someone else's platform to accomplish that?
This led to a new question, one that has resulted in my engaging in several areas that I've always felt excluded from. The question I now ask myself is this:
What small step can I take towards integrating this interest into my life?
What's empowering about this question are two advantages:
- It frames it as a small step, so I'm not expected to think of a large leap
- It speaks of integrations rather than switching, so I'm looking to how to augment my life with this, rather than replace something in my life with it.
I didn't need anyone's permission to start engaging with my interest. I could simply start my own blog and write whatever I wanted to, so that's exactly what I did. I started a blog called The Rural Technocrat, and I write about the tech industry. As of right now almost nobody reads it, but I'm having an absolute blast writing articles for it.
Maybe one day it will lead somewhere and I'll have an opportunity to write for one of the larger publications, but it might also go nowhere. I'm happy with either outcome, because either way I get to be creative and engage in a topic that interests me.
The point I'm making is this, there are usually many ways that we can integrate our interests into our lives, and greatly enhance our day-to-day enjoyment, but we often don't because we set the bar too high for getting involved.
Are you interested in a field completely different than what you're working in? Instead of asking how you can get a job in that field, as yourself what small step you can take towards integrating that subject into your life. For example, what are some books you might read about it? Who are some people you might talk to about it? What are some online courses you might take about it? What is something you can contribute to the field, for example by doing some writing yourself?
What are some areas in your life where you've set the bar too high for engaging in an area you are interested in? What is some small step you can take this month towards integrating that interest into your life?