Question that I was thinking/meditating on for the month of August: Who do I want to become over the next 5 to 20 years?
This has been the question plaguing me for the past few months (and actually if I’m honest about my transition plan—probably the past two or three years), as there at times is conflicting advice on whether or not one should have a solid plan for ‘x’ years down the road or going after ‘y’ job title/position—mainly because we don’t know what will happen in the future (right 2020), and if we become so narrowly focused, we could miss or pass by an opportunity of a lifetime.
Though the same can be said for not having a focused plan or idea of the future. If I’m totally truthful with myself—I probably fall into the latter category of not having a totally focused plan. Up until probably five years ago, I had thought that I’d be able to handle doing the academic route (post-doc for years, find an assistant professor position and work my way up to full professor)—but what I use to consider fun (putting in somewhat long hours in the lab to try to answer part of a question), was no longer fun and I no longer had the energy to try to fight my way into the academic arena.
This has also left me slightly disillusioned when it comes to figuring out where I want to be in say five to twenty years—what do I want to do? Do I want to stay in research (my comfort zone)? Go in a different direction and apply the skills I have in a slightly different manner? Then I get more pressing questions—like will I still enjoy the work? Will I still be willing to make the sacrifices needed to move forward to the next promotion? Or will I become disillusioned again?
One thing I’ve realized is that I could handle anything that was tossed my way as long as I kept true to the following: 1) I was always learning. While I was getting slightly tired of school by the end of my undergraduate career (I will take full responsibility for taking 7 years to earn 2 BS degrees, a minor, and being able to graduate with 0 student loans)—I did enjoy the ability to take classes in different areas (though now I wish I took a few more business courses), and I enjoyed the time working in various labs as an undergraduate research technician. 2) I stopped doing school work/studying at a certain time so I could unwind before bed. 3) I tried to keep the weekends homework free (for the most part), so that I could enjoy being outside and getting a little natural vitamin D.
I was okay with having to bend number three every so often in grad school (sometimes experiments needed to be finished or started on the weekend), and even a little during the later positions. What I shouldn’t have bargained with was number one—always learning. It wasn’t so much during grad school (I did enjoy focusing and diving deep into a single subject area that is still growing today), but later positions. If I wanted to learn or read on something that was outside the scope of what I was doing on the job—I was told to do it on my own time (which I mentally took as well, now there is less time to unwind before bed). So what did I do—I stopped looking at other subjects that interested me— and I did the bare minimum needed for the job and that was it.
It has taken me a couple of years to realize where and when that mindset started—I actually feel more comfortable knowing a little about numerous different areas, and quite a bit about say one or two areas—but I don’t want to become a narrow-focused specialist.
So, winding back to the main question—where do I see myself in 5-20 years? I see myself as someone who has been able to balance being both a professional blogger/online entrepreneur and holding a normal 9-to-5 job. My industry position is within health economics, medical/scientific writing, or possibly market research, or market communications. Since we’re still in the middle of a pandemic—for the normal job I’m finding it better to have a couple of different options to look into.
I’ve probably rebranded the blog, and have also managed to launch several different e-courses/tutorials covering different science topics and starting to branch out into different social science topics as well. Staying true to my multi-facet nature, having numerous pages to the blog has actually been one of the key successes to my online presence. I’ve stuck with the areas of personal/professional development, lifestyle (crafts, money management, minimalism), and fitness/nutrition (encompassing all three areas of health—mental, physical, and spiritual). In addition, within five to ten years I will have worked up the nerve to launch a podcast (a YouTube channel will be launched between years three and five).
It took quite a bit of soul searching during the pandemic to reach the point to where I could state that I want to be both a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ and a ‘specialist’. The major work will be trying to figure out which areas of life will be focus of ‘jack of all trades’ and which ones I will become a ‘specialist’ in. In addition, it will take work to build up a solid following on social media (One area to work on is getting better at posting on various social media sites), and then move forward from there. The next soul-searching question would be “what do I want to be a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ in and a ‘specialist’ in”??