As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I've been thinking a lot about goals lately - for my life in general, and the creative side of my life in particular.
I never used to set goals - I kind of just let things happen and followed seemingly random paths to see where they would lead. And I do believe in that too; I don't think we should obsessively set goals that we never stray from for fear of ruining our lives, and I'm a fan of saying "yes" to things because you just never know. But, as I've discovered, setting a few concrete, achievable goals can help lay a foundation for a path that leads to where you want to go. The trick, of course, is knowing where you want to go in the first place.
When I knew I would be leaving my old job at the beginning of the summer, I was faced with some choices:
- Look for another job and continue my creative pursuits "on the side"
- Try to use my skills to build a freelance career in editing, which would (in theory) allow me to spend more time doing creative stuff
- Make a go of being a full-time designer-maker
It was tough. On the one hand, I have long dreamt of being able to pursue my craft full-time. And inspiration that feeds that longing is everywhere - from all those "Quit Your Day Job" profiles on Etsy to the beautiful, aspirational blogs and websites and Instagrams of crafters and creative people who are living the dream. I want to live that dream too, one day, or something like it.
On the other hand, I was brought up with the notion of always having "something to fall back on", and maintaining a sense of security (while being aware that anything can happen) is important to me at this stage of my life. It's easier for me to be creative when I'm not worried about where my next mortgage payment is coming from or if I'll be able to fly home in an emergency.
It was while at my old job that I developed an interest in business and technical writing and editing. So I took some courses, and set a goal to finish the program and earn a certificate. Which I did! It was a lot of work, but so rewarding. When the opportunity to work full-time as a technical writer came along, it felt too good to be true (this is where setting goals meets saying "yes" to surprises) and I took the job.
So, here I am, once again in a "day job", but this time it's where I want to be. I'm able to do something I enjoy, that I worked for and hope to continue growing in, and now I'm a little more confident applying that same goal-setting philosophy to my craft. For now, my goal is simply to make time for the creative stuff, consistently and with focus and intention, at whatever pace feels right. It might not look like "living the dream" from the outside, but right now it feels like it from the inside.