What I want to do with my life

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Recently (like the last year or so), I've been trying to puzzle out what I want to do with my life, or at least with the next bit of it. I've tried on a few different careers now, and nothing has fit worth a damn. Museum curation? Hardly. Public health? Not. The last thing I decided on--public policy graduate school and a non-profit career--has crashed and burned before I even finished my Masters degree (which I will still finish, I swear). After I realized that public policy wasn't for me, I realized that I had been thinking about job/career prospects all wrong--I was thinking too "big picture," rather than focusing on what I want my life to be like and what aspects a job will need to fit into the rest of my plans.

After I started thinking about it that way, the list I came up with for attributes I'd like in a job was roughly as follows:

  1. Flexibility. I want to be able to work hard sometimes and less hard other times, more hours sometims and fewer other times, move in and out of working at all, be able to take extended vacation without the world ending, etc.
  2. Minimum of interaction with people. Let's just face it--I'm not a people person. I get more done and am happier doing it if I am alone and have to deal with a minimum of office-type interaction.
  3. Independance. I don't want someone looking over my shoulder. The fewer bosses, the better.
  4. The ability to work from anywhere, particularly the ability to work from home. I would kill small furry creatures to work from home. Seriously.
  5. Payment based on output rather than hours. I work fast. In every job I've had, I've worked fast and then screwed around, because I am paid by the hour. It drives me nuts and it always has.
  6. Writing. I thought I had already tried and rejected being any kind of a writer, but I think maybe my options were too narrow--all I really know that I don't want to do is be a journalist, or write fiction. In the last few jobs I have had, the research and writing elements have been the part that keeps me going. Maybe that should tell me something.
So what does this all add up to? In my mind, it adds up to being a self-employed, freelance technical/business/grant writer. Or something to that effect. I want to sit at my house and write and/or edit other people's boring writing (grant applications, business plans, technical manuals, etc.), on my own time frame, and get paid for it. The really amazing thing is that from what I have seen in my research so far, this job actually exists and people do in fact get paid to do it!

So my thought is that what I need to do first is keep the full-time job I have, but try to start up a side business doing this kind of work. I have no real idea how to do that, but I've ordered this book, which hopefully will give me some ideas. And I am on the look out for freelance writing jobs to get me started (I have been turned down for one already!). Next on the list is to edit my resume up to make a writer's resume out of it (not hard, since I have done so much writing in my past few positions), and get together a portfolio of samples of different types of writing I've done.

I feel better about my career prospects than I have for ever! Yay!


Good for you; I wish you so much luck. I'm an editor/writer for a technical rag (don't tell them I called it that), and if this list reflects what you like, then you're on the right track. Because I work for a (semi-)big company, I have a few people looking over my shoulder to make sure I'm on deadline, but otherwise, I can shut my door or not even come in to the office at all. Working from home (or the park, or the coffee shop) is the best thing in the world. I can take breaks, naps, trips around town, whatever I have to. Heck, during my last pregnancy, I was bedridden most of the time, but I managed to keep working because I could use a laptop on my pillowtop.

If you get stuck for ideas, give me a buzz and I'll see what I can dig up.

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April 2012

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