Repotting: right in my wheelhouse

20120721_110336At some point during my journey home on Friday/Saturday, I came across this article about repotting your career. Though the article itself is flavored with a rather Stanford-y perspective that doesn’t totally align with my own way of looking at things, I appreciate both the horticultural metaphor, and the author’s tips for switching things up professionally in a way that “can lead to greater innovation, success, and meaning in your work.” These include (in addition to “Know when it’s time to change…” um, thanks?):

  • Seek support and commit to a new direction
  • Embrace uncertainty and tune out noise
  • Network broadly, and tap those networks

Last week, I lay wide awake in my hotel room with an incurable itchiness that I used to attribute to having accidentally eaten gluten, or to sleeping in overly-bleached hotel sheets, or to stress… I have never been able to pinpoint the source of The Itch, but it doesn’t really matter. What I do know is that it’s correlated to being away from home, lying (and usually not being able to sleep) in a hotel bed, and having very little control over what or when I eat.

I also know that I haven’t experienced The Itch in years, and it made me wonder:
could I somehow be allergic to the life of a traveling speaker (or the gluten / bleach / whatever that the traveling life entails)? Could the return of The Itch, in addition to all my other suspicions, intuitions, or signs, signal that the time has come to give it up entirely (after all, I have already proven that there’s no way to make ends meet without either running myself completely ragged, hence taking a second job)? What else could I do to pay the bills, keep me feeling useful in the world, teach me new things, take me to interesting places, and surround myself with inspiring people?

After an extra four hours of sitting in the airport on Friday night on top of the scheduled 2-hour layover, and finally arriving home, exhausted and delirious, past 2am Saturday morning, at which point I had been awake for 26 hours straight… this line of questioning grew stronger.

Could it be time to admit that the regular physical hardship and stress of traveling and preparing for conferences — even if it’s only for a few days each month — is causing me harm? Is it any better (or worse!) that I’m my own boss, and am bringing it all upon myself? At what point do I know it’s time to give it up, no matter how many positive things I know this work does for me? Am I overreacting, and is there some way to keep doing the parts that I love, and ditch the parts that make me unhealthy?

As for committing to a new direction — thanks, repotting article — I definitely prefer the energy of Running Toward something (ie, committing to something new) rather than Running Away from something (ie, fleeing a toxic work situation). And there are quite a few things that I have been dreaming about lately. To the point about seeking support, I am psyching myself up to put together a new “Advisory Board” for the next phase of my career, and really, my life. The last time I made a big career move, I assembled a Kitchen Cabinet of Advisors, partially as a tactic to legitimize a solo venture, but also because many of the people who served in this role were in fact close friends whose judgment I trusted to keep me on track both professionally and personally. This time around, I’m going to ask them to help keep me accountable primarily to my personal goals.

Because this next phase will include a major road trip (how’s that for using positive language to manifest!), I joked that this time I would call these “accountabuddies” my Wheelhouse… and now I’ve gotten somewhat attached to this name / multi-purpose metaphor for reasons a visit to Wikipedia quickly made plain, a sampling below:

In nautical context
In railways
  • A turntable-like device which allows wagons to switch rails: Turntable (rail).
In sport
In architecture

I’m not generally one to be afraid of change. If anything, it’s remaining in a situation for a long time that takes me out of my comfort zone. I’ve got an itch, and I’m fairly certain it’s time for a major repot; don’t be surprised if I call on you for support.

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