You know those questions people ask, about what you’d do if money was no object? If you didn’t need a day job to cover living expenses?
I’ve never had an answer. At least, not one that felt particularly right.
Not until last night.
I’ve been hunting my thing – or, if you go with the multipotentialite idea, my things – on and off for a while now. I reckon I’ve been narrowing it down for a while; trying things, seeing what sticks and what doesn’t, not to mention what might pay.
Lately things have been picking up on the pay front. I may have mentioned the voice work I’ve been doing for the Diamonds on the projects they have going. I’ve recently been doing some research on accents so that I can properly take on some of the roles they had in mind for me.
I’d also been in touch with a career / life coach with whom I’d come into contact a few months ago. I’d joined her mailing list and responded to a questionnaire, which resulted in some email correspondence and the possibility of a joining course.
I’d mentioned both to Vickie, who had wanted to know what these folks’ respective qualifications were. She seemed to be taking a cynical approach to them, re-iterating the old adage that those who can’t, teach.
But then Vickie got to her main point. “Most of the time, I see you unhappy,” she said.
And that’s not wrong.
For all the recent progress I’ve made, for all the meditation I’ve been doing, for all the connections I’ve been making and options I’ve been pursuing, I’ve still felt restless, uncomfortable. I keep looking for solutions to problems in myself, for inspiration, for skills, toolsets, money-making opportunities – in the end, for motivation.
I’ve tried checklists and goal-setting, whether trying to use the Snowflake Method to assemble a plot for a novel or Scott Dinsmore’s Goal Setting and Action Workbooks to assemble a plan for my year or creating an avatar whose needs I can build a product around, and it’s always felt like trying to push a truck that’s already in reverse gear. I rail against the steps and the goals I’m meant to come up with; in the end, instead of clear-headed and focused, I feel miserable. A failure.
I keep mistaking fear and anxiety for drive, or beating myself up because I have no drive. But I don’t. I have no lofty aspirations, no ambitions, no “I’ll get there someday”s.
The things I’ve enjoyed – like recording “Ogre” and “GEV,” or writing for this blog, or sketching the cover picture for the “GEV post” – have always seemed self-evident, the next thing to do. I didn’t need plans, I just needed the idea out of my head and onto page or into MP3. I did them purely because I wanted to. My only customer was me, and I knew how to keep him happy. And happy I was and still am with the result, shitty accents and all.
So I found myself thinking about that question again: What would I do if I could quit my job tomorrow? And suddenly, I knew the answer. Heck, I’d actually seen it a month or so ago, set out in an article shared by, funnily enough, one of my recent podcast guests, John Williams of Screw Work Let’s Play.
The article is called, “Ambition? Who needs it?“, and its author, Jim Perskie, explains – look, just read it. Or not, because I’m about to explain how his life and my ideal dovetail.
What would I do if I could quit my job tomorrow?
I’d slow down.
There are no destinations I’d suddenly trip across the world to visit (aside from those where some good interstate and international mates of ours live), very little I’d go out and splurge on. I already have ninety-nine percent of enough, and if we could e the mortgage paid off we’d probably be able to live happily on very little.
I’d spend my time keeping house and yard at my own pace, in no hurry, not feeling like I had to cram maintenance chores in between sleep, day job and other weekend things. (I find I quite enjoy chores when I follow my own energy and aren’t under pressure.) I’d hang out with Vickie, walk the dogs during the day. Being a house-husband would leave me quite satisfied with my lot in life.
Would I do other things with other people? Quite probably, yes. But I don’t know exactly what those things would be, who those people would be (although I still look at the gangs at Rooster Teeth, Penny Arcade and Critical Role as examples). All I know is that I’d have two criteria:
- I enjoy their company, and they, mine;
- I’d find myself wanting to do, and enjoying, the stuff that we do together just as much as I wanted to record, and enjoyed recording, “Ogre” and “GEV;” or as much as I want to write and enjoy writing these blog posts.
I’d give people and things a try, sure; but now I have a better idea of what I’m looking for, and when to cut my losses. I know when to turn a genuine, enthusiastic offer down because the connection with the person offering or their material isn’t quite there. I have a better idea of the difference between genuine peace and happiness and the nervous anticipatory high of Wanting to Own Stuff (see, recently, Destiny or XCOM: The Board Game) or the fearful Need to Keep People Pleased With Me.
That latter is still a challenge; people pleasing is a habit that’s stuck with me since I was a kid.
But right at the moment, though, I can safely say I’d honestly drop a lot of the things I’ve been working on lately. You’ve probably already read about how I feel about The Paid to Play Podcast; I think it’s time I acknowledge the other things I feel similarly about.
Which means telling some folks that I’m not as interested as I thought (or told myself) I was in working with / for them.
Which is gonna be tough.
But it’s still better than the alternative. I have no lofty aspirations, no ambitions, no “I’ll get there someday”s, and I’m sick of seeing that lack as a shortcoming, a broken-ness. If anyone else finds that disappointing… well, that’s their problem, not mine.