At the heart of my N Steps endeavor lies the question, how do you become a better person on a daily basis? What you do every day is who you are. Your routine shapes you. As much as I try to reject the very American assumption that one’s job is a major portion of one’s identity, there is no denying that it does have a big impact in shaping you. If you’re working full time, then at least a third of your available time and energy is taken up by your job. Considering you sleep for another third of your time, then that leaves you with only a third left to make out of yourself something separate from work. For a lot of people, their work identity is their identity, and that’s fine. For others, that time outside of work is very important in crafting who they are.
I’m one of those who would rather be defined by what I do – and create – outside of work. I’m a writer at heart, after all, and an artist. And I’m gradually coming to terms with the fact that employment-wise, I’ll likely only ever have a day job. But day jobs still matter and they still take up a hefty chunk of time and life. So it’s still important to either be doing something you enjoy or something that will challenge you.
In just a few months, I will have to find a new job. I’m lucky enough to have that amount of forewarning and time to prepare and I hope I’m wise enough not to waste that time, like I have in the past. I also aim to take a different approach to my job search than I have in the past, especially as long as I don’t have that reek of jobless desperation about me, which I know rather intimately. I’m going to change my search tactics and do something that terrifies me. And I’m going to do it the N Steps way: in easily digestible daily chunks.
Part of it will be venturing out on my own in new ways. I have a critical and picky eye for other’s writing – strangely, not always my own. But I can pick apart someone else’s clunky sentence like nobody’s business and spot a typo two miles distant. But I also have to be honest: my attempt to venture out as a for-real photographer last year tanked because even simple marketing efforts scared the pants off me. I actually caught myself thinking, what if somebody looks at this? what if somebody calls me? Not even “what if they hate it.” I hadn’t even made it that far in my fear.
I’m not going to let me sabotage myself this time. Every day, I’m going to make some effort to find editing work, or something else that interests me. Earlier this week I answered an ad asking for a proofreader. It was scary. I almost didn’t do it, several times. Then I stopped and reminded myself that this is what I wanted to do, that I have done this in the past, and that I will never know for sure if I can do this if I don’t try. And if I get the gig, I will have that experience which I can then tuck into my belt for future editing gigs.
I will take this job search slowly, but methodically. Step by terrifying step, I will push my boundaries and not settle for what I absolutely know I can do. I will strive to find a job where I get paid to learn and to grow in a new skill. Because what we do all the time every day is important. It is a part of who we are. And we have control over that time and how it shapes us.
Me? I want to be that person who is always growing and trying new things. That person who is terrified each and every day, but pushes past that and gets that much closer to self-embetterment.