The past few weeks have been very busy at work. The second phase of our big clinical implementation has turned into “phase 1-B” and is cranking up to run at the same time as “phase 1-A”, so things are getting hectic. I’m posting a helpdesk analyst position that I need to hire someone for within the next two weeks, plus dealing with budgeting for the 2012 calendar year while dealing with ongoing employee issues. On the home front, the twins have started back to school, and we took one more trip the weekend before they started back. Whatever happened to starting school after Labor Day, by the way? It has been the hottest summer in almost 30 years here in central Arkansas which only seems to add to the stress and mayhem.
I’ve put a number of personal projects on hold because of work and the seasonal stuff going on. I also missed out on a job at work that I really set my heart on, and that has been particularly troubling for me. I’ve been re-evaluating my career, asking questions about what I really want out of my job, and trying to figure out exactly what I want to do when I grow up…! It seems like a good time to ask the hard questions, so I’m doing a personal inventory of what I like and don’t like about my current job, and also looking at the things I like to do on my own time and listing out the pros and cons for them. This is where things get interesting.
My interests are, frankly, pretty varied. I play guitar and trombone, I build tube amps, I build home PC’s (and hackintoshes!), I repair guitars and amps, I fly fish, I tie my own flies, I garden… what is it about all of these activities that is common to all of them? Why do I enjoy these particular things so much? The learning! Other than trombone, I did none of these things before I graduated high school. Each of these things has been a new pursuit sometime in the last 15-20 years that has to some degree grown into more than just something that was interesting to read about. I would have to say the same thing about my job, or jobs. As an IT manager it seems like everything I do today is something that I knew nothing about 20 years ago. The thing that seems to drive me in all of these is the act of learning.
Now this is where it gets odd. Many of these interests start to get old when I begin to dive too deeply. For instance, building tube amps was a lot of fun during the first 3 or 4 builds. I learned about metal working (how do you build an amp chassis?), learning to use a drill press and metal punches. I learned about how to solder, teaching myself after reading about it on the Internet and talking to an engineering buddy that had the skills already. I learned a little about electricity, resistors and capacitors, transformers, and tubes. But once I learned those things and I was at the point of needing to learn WHY these things did what they did, I began to lose interest. The general stuff was learned, at least to the point that I could apply the knowledge enough to successfully build something, and then I was ready to move on. I like to learn the “how”; I’m less fired up about the “why”.
How do I apply this? What career choice could I make that allows me to learn on a daily basis? I enjoy being the jack of all trades and the master of none (that may actually be the definition of a manager!).
Current reading material: “What Color is your Parachute?” by Dick Bolles, updated about a year ago. It is a great guide to read if you are trying to figure out how to get a job, how to be happy in your career, and what you should do for a living. I’m hoping to take a more formal approach to the “life inventory” fairly soon to figure out exactly what I should be doing; it will be interesting to find out where else I would be happy. Do I plan to go do that when I find out what that is? Maybe so, maybe not. Apparently, in my case the real thrill is in the learning…