Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Plans: Not a Dictate of Your Life

Yes, indeed, the turbulent situation continues. Still haven't got anything down-pat, and still uncertain as to whether I'll be able to resolve it without temporary homelessness. My mood has been dancing a lot from a gloomy tiredness to peppy can-do. I'll let you know when it's over and we get back on schedule.

However, let's take a break from that and examine a little thing about life.

My thinking about careers might actually be shifting dramatically, though I withdraw from committing myself to anything firm. The lack of progress and education I've received in restaurants so far is now making me lose more and more interest in it . . . in favor of something else.

Quick advice for your life: Never cling to your plans just for the sake of your plans. Sometimes we can spend a lot of time with a certain conception of what we want or should do, to our own detriment.


That's not to say it's not good to plan out life, but rather that sometimes staying with a decision for so long can accidentally make us blind to the evidence as to whether we're enjoying where we're going or if something else is catching our eye in a better way.

For example, one of my first major career dedications was to become a fiction writer. I had made that decision my sophomore year in high school, and stuck to it all the way through my first semester of college. Writing, upon discovering how great it felt, became an amazing outlet that became an inseparable facet of my life, and I wrote so much I couldn't see how I wouldn't want to be a writer.

The problem, however, is that I blinded myself to the evidence. Despite saying I wanted to write fiction, I never did so as a hobby, only did starts and stops if I tried, and by and large disliked the process. Most poignantly, I wasn't even thinking about pieces I'd like to write the majority of my mental life.

Yet, because I had a "plan" I kept to that decision and even made it my major in college. I kept telling myself and telling myself I'm going to be a fiction writer even though it wasn't something I thought about, by and large, and didn't even practice. The inertia of having that plan for so long kept me moving in that direction. Such was not a helpful direction since I didn't actually have a passion in that regards.

It wasn't until some weeks after my first attempted dropping out of college that I finally recognized I had no authentic passion in this field and let go of it. It really felt weird, and for the first time in my I was actually lost as to what to do, as all times before I had only had some vague idea. It wasn't until a bout of strenuous living that I realized I wanted to go into the culinary industry.

That being said, my shift involved another letting go: I don't want to be a chef. Oh, I still want to stay with food and the culinary arts in someway; I'm just realizing, now, that despite my "plan" the prospect of being a chef in my own restaurant just isn't that appealing.

These months of struggle have really made that clear to me. For one, despite being a dishwasher for over three years now I am still . . . a dishwasher and fast food worker. I've received very little worthwhile education and training at the restaurants I've worked at, and undergone some pretty aggravating stuff, such as the pizzeria that deliberately tried to prevent me from improving my skills to the country club chef who deceived me about me having a job with him.

Feedback is important when you tackle goals. They tell you how you're doing and keep you motivated. So far my feedback on my restaurant career is negative, largely negative. As such, my interest has just, well, waned. There are no longer daydreams of me rushing around a kitchen to check up upon my staff or to visit patron's tables, or to imagine the horticulture in the front yard of the building.

I'm still interested enough to stay with something food-oriented, so I'm not leaving the culinary arts totally -- for now -- but rather am back up into a less committed decision, one that says I'll stay in the field of food, but I don't know which direction.

These past few months since losing my hotel job have been especially telling of my interests. During my unemployment I've spent a lot of time tackling interests I didn't have as much time for before, such as reading and writing, and saw a lot more potential for what I might be interested in. An especially striking thing is that I've developed an online partnership with a friend involving computers, and in learning so much more about technology I've rekindled my interest in all things nerdy, and remembered just how much I love pushing and succeeding by my mind.

Additionally, since reading that essay about New Zealand, a new series of daydreams has cropped up. Given my love of the Paleo diet, my especial interest in wildman cuisine, and my love of nature, now I can see myself self-employed and succeeding in some technology sector of the economy, like writing books, providing online services, running an online store, or whatever, and having an unbound life that leaves me free to wander around where ever I want, from the tropics in Hawaii to the Colorado mountains (or, natch, New Zealand). Perhaps it'd be a big culinary adventure, not only to sample all the different cuisines but also see all the things I could cook in the wilderness and all the night skies I could sleep under.

The friend I'm partnering with has certainly planted a lot of these seeds in my head. He talks of the terribleness of being bound to irrational employer and the joy of waking up without an alarm clock . . . and now I'm starting to sympathize. Oh, I always intend to work, earn money, and never retire . . . but at this point, I'm craving a line of work that would leave me much freer in my time and ability to travel.

And staying stuck inside a restaurant doesn't fit that criteria. So while I may stay in the industry to keep learning what I can, I think the next phase of my life is to move my finances to be dependent on self-employment ventures, and be much more free to enjoy things like forests, museums, road trips, getting snowed in at cabins . . .

Ironically, that could actually mean a complete turn-around and return back to writing. Here I've gone ditching the idea of becoming an author, and now here I come back to entertain that idea once more. Huh.

As of far I don't know what's what. All I can say is that I daydream of myself on mountains, in fields of flowers, cooking by a fire here, and busting my brain on the computer there. No, not just a life of wandering around, but just a freer one made by the products of my brain, such as writing good and well-selling books, and not having to dedicate so much of my time to clocking in and out. Summarized: A financially successful autodidact.

Success like that is not only possible, but right within this year, too. If Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg can become a billionaire before hitting age thirty, then isn't my far more modest goal far more possible? Tricky and will take time, effort, trial and failure . . . but possible. First off I just need to get myself into a cheaper apartment and get financially stable, and then the next phase of life begins.

And for all I know it could be just a phase. Maybe I don't want to spend my whole life that way; just a few years or so, and then a new passion shall arise. For now, at least, I know it's a direction I want to start making steps towards.

It's very liberating to be able to dispose of "plans" like becoming a chef to free oneself up to tackle new ideas like becoming a wandering writer/gourmet. When you get stuck in plans you can miss a lot of opportunities for happiness in your life, so never be afraid to examine whether you're truly happy with the direction you're going in. If not, it's time to change.

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