Not really binary choices

Do you ever get stuck making choices and feel like there’s a right and wrong choice to choose from? And there are CONSEQUENCES if you don’t choose correctly? I do. And that usually launches me into a loop of indecision, worry, and anxiety because now the choice has a moral value to it and CONSEQUENCES because one is right and one is wrong. And then I step back after spinning for days or weeks or sometimes years and realize that maybe one isn’t right and the other isn’t wrong. Maybe they’re just different choices that may lead to different outcomes.

Photo by Burst on Unsplash
Image of back of a woman with in a hat standing in a dead corn field with two paths in front of her

I’m looking for a new job right now. You know that part of my tentative steps to rejoin life and experiences is to move. I know what’s on offer where I live currently. I know who I’ve been here. I know how I tend to react to what’s on offer here. And I’m ready for something new. New successes. New mistakes. New experiences. Gulp. So, step 1, get a job so that I can work remotely from home. Ok, great. So what do I need/want/desperately or what do I want to avoid in this new job?

Well, it needs to pay the bills. I’d like it to be enough to save money after paying the bills. If I’m feeling indulgent and dreamy, I’d really like it to enable me to do some travel every year, not pay too much attention to the total at the grocery store, and let me have a whim 4 day weekend somewhere and see an NHL game live from time to time. Ok. Good. But I’ve also had enough jobs to know that money is far from the only thing I need to consider. In fact, I took a substantial pay cut at one new job in the past in order to leave a screaming lunatic of a boss and the rest of the toxic environment that person created. So money isn’t everything. So what else?

I need to be learning – to have my mind not atrophy with boredom too soon or too quickly. I don’t mind a relaxing-ish job, but if I’m not challenged and/or learning on the regular, I get B.O.R.E.D. It makes work days and weeks very long, and I tend to do this terrible thing when I’m bored at work: look for challenges. And then before I know it, some member of my leadership food chain figures out that I’m a good “asshole whisperer” and I’m gifted a new position doing something possibly interesting but for the biggest douche canoes at the company. In a toxic environment. At some point working day after day with those sorts of folks in that sort of environment is no longer something I’m willing to do. So I decide, pass please, new job. Lather, rinse, repeat. (Like this is my last 3 jobs people–total cycle.)

These are the things I tell myself anyway. And before I realize I’ve done it, I’m filtering out most of the job opportunities I’m finding because I’ve randomly decided that doing commercial contracts=yawn and doing fintech=more likelihood than not of douche-canoery. And when I poke at those two thoughts, I scratch my head a little and quietly acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, those assessments are a little too sweeping. And what I’ve been quietly, unconsciously doing is whittling down my opportunities to apply, leading to less likelihood of finding something that works for me and enables me to move away. Maybe I’m also limiting myself from finding something really interesting and engaging. Because I’m scared. Scared of still being disengaged, of it boring me wherever I go (because there I am). 

I’ve spent weeks combing through the “things I tell myself” about jobs, about applying, about what I think will definitely make me happy or miserable, about what will feel like a failure etc. And I’ve discovered that what I really need in a new job is that it be remote so I can work from home. So that I can choose to have my home anywhere and try out what life might look like somewhere else. So that I can continue to work from home like I have during the pandemic and discovered What I really need and want in a new job is a new experience. One that I walk into without all of my usual preconceived ideas about what I’ll like and hate. And to just try something new and be open to whatever that might look like. What I really need is to make it just that simple.

Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash
Image of a brick building with stairs up to a red door and a yellow door side by side

So I’ve been experimenting and applying for jobs that aren’t about what I think I’ll hate and like or whatever, but instead whether it sounds like an experience I want to have now.  Because I know if I end up having that experience and it’s not for me, or gets stale quickly or just something else interesting comes along, I can stop and do something else. Life is, after all, a bunch of experiences stitched together over time. I can sew like nobody’s business, so why not be open to stitching experiences together? Why not be open to not baking in “failure” as a choice or consequence of a choice that has no moral value – it’s just something that might happen. Why not just experience it and see where that leads me?

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