Recently, the team members were asked to consider their future growth with the company. We were told to prepare a plan for the next year, a plan that focused on opportunities we wanted to have, or projects we wanted to explore. We were charged with being both concrete with our goals, and provocative.
As a young man, when I was preparing to go to college, I had to consider what I wanted to do as a career. I liked art, and I liked computers, so I looked around the internet for an answer. Eventually I stumbled upon the phrase “graphic designer,” and I decided that would be my chosen profession.
Prior to this decision, however, both of my parents had counseled me that drawing was not a wise basis for a career. They told me that it would be fine as a hobby, or something on the side, but that I should find something more traditional for an actual career.
To my young, rebellious mind, this sounded like bad advice. Over the span of a person’s life, we spend the majority of our time working at something. I was already tired of going to school, and the thought of picking some profession for the sake of security and long term employment sounded horrendous to me. Why would I actively choose to torture myself? Why not risk insecurity for the sake of fulfillment and happiness?
The idea of the graphic designer is actually a nice compromise. I get to engage my creativity as well as my love of technology, but most of all, I get to do something that I decided to do. I am earning my living and enjoying it.
When the question of my development came up, there were two ways I could have approached that question. I could have thought about myself as an employee, and looked at ways to grow that benefited my position within the organization. Or, I could ask myself, what do I want to accomplish personally? What might I pursue regardless of where or who I was around?
This latter approach may seem curious to some, but consider this: if I was hired to do what I already enjoy, than any development would naturally align or supplement my existing position in some way. When it comes to being employed, I feel, we may initially be hired for our technical competence, but we remain employed because of our willingness to grow and adapt.
With this thought in mind, I set about crafting what I consider to be a fairly ambitious plan. It consists of projects I want to embark on, knowledge I want to gain, and areas of my life that need a bit more structuring. I found the activity of chronicling and writing out my plan immensely helpful because many of the ideas had been in the back of my head for some time.
Of course every human being is more than what they do. I have goals and interests that lie outside of work, and things that matter more to me than anything art, computer, or job related. The decision for me, however, was to embrace the chance to pursue things in a professional context that are completely within my personal interests. I decided to earn a living, and enjoy it.