One of the hallmarks of my own professional life has been a never-changing “itch” to try something new or different.
Even while in high school and college, I dabbled in jobs like grocery store bagboy, bartender, poolroom manager, highway department engineering intern, maintenance worker at the local woolen mill…I even tried working on my Grandfather’s farm (THAT one didn’t work out so well!).
My parents weren’t pushing me to do these things. I just, as I’ve said so many, many times, was not/am not wired to sit around twiddling my thumbs. “Kirk” and “doing nothing” are NOT compatible terms!
That pattern has continued throughout my entire adult life as well. Even when I was in the Air Force and stationed in Saigon, Vietnam, teaching “English as a Second Language” to Vietnamese military, I finagled part-time gigs doing everything from bartender to events planner to assistant in a military library…in addition to teaching five days a week and dating my then-girlfriend/now-wife as often as our work schedules allowed.
When I segued into my most recent persona…college professor…I found that this seemingly haphazard lifestyle came in handy when counseling my advisees at Curry College, where I oversaw the Public Relations Concentration, taught most of the undergrad PR courses, and served as Faculty Adviser to the Curry College Public Relations Student Association.
Throughout the year, but mostly in the spring, student after student would come to me with the inevitable “What do I do next?” And, inevitably, I would find myself getting excited as I explored with them interests, abilities, strong and weak points…looking for a possible avenue for them to explore after college.
I highlight “possible” because, even today, I don’t believe there’s a “one right answer” solution to life’s challenges. It might look good and sound good…but you won’t know until you try it.
Now don’t get all huffy and mutter “Kirk, you idiot. I know a LOT of people who have been with one employer for YEARS and are having the time of their life!”
I agree. I know quite a few myself…but they’re not doing exactly what they started out doing. They took their original “job” and transformed it into something bigger and better. “Same ol’; same ol’” wasn’t an option.
And that’s kind of where I’m going with this rambling. Don’t just “settle” as you explore options for your future. Even when you’re interviewing for a position, be sure to ask this one crucial question of the person who will be your boss/supervisor/whatever: “Where do you see this position going in the next few years?”
And listen to the response. Is there a sense of growth and opportunity in the answer?
But also have a serious discussion with yourself. What do you want? Are you willing to simply do whatever has to be done to “get by”? Or are you looking ahead and around the corner to see “what’s next?”
It’s your future, and it’s up to you to make the most of it. Or, as Mr. Spock would say, “Live long and prosper.”