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What to do next? - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
What to do next?
I have been spending a lot of time recently thinking about the direction I would like my life to take next. I feel as though I have been "treading water" for quite some time now, and it is time for me to start swimming again. I am dissatisfied with my current job, mostly because I feel that I have simply been here too long. I am dissatisfied with my current life, mostly because I feel that it is too ordinary. I can and should be doing more with my life than coding for an insurance company, raising cats, and playing sports. The world is out there waiting for me to make a difference in it, and here I am mowing my grassweeds.

So I feel it is time for a change. In fact, I feel as though my life has reached a bit of a turning point. My knee injury has caused me to stop a lot of the stuff I used to do. I need to finish getting my knee fixed, then go do other things. Better things. More interesting things. Or at the very least...different things.

So I have spent a lot of time brainstorming in the past weeks/months about what I would like to do next. What would best use and focus my energies and skills? I think with enough determination I can do anything I want to do -- but I need to decide what I want to be determined about.

Here are some various things I have brainstormed and tossed around. For now, I'm not going to elaborate on anything, just list it out:

  • Find a new job doing similar stuff, but one that pays a whole lot better and has more interesting tasks.
  • Find a tech job in another place, maybe Chicago or New York or San Diego. I'd probably need a raise for that.
  • Find a tech job in another country! Preferably English-speaking though. This may require a pay cut, but it would be exciting and different.
  • Continue with my current job and go back to school, get a masters degree in some technology area that intrigues me.
  • Quit work altogether and go back to school full-time. Live in the dorms!
  • Quit work altogether, rent out my house, move to a tiny apartment in a small town, live off my savings, and try to write seriously for a year or so. See if I have something to say.
  • Get out of the corporate world and use my tech skills to work for a non-profit charitable organization that I really believe in. Example: Habitat For Humanity (which currently has two job postings for which I'm very qualified (does anybody know anything about Habitat or about Americus, Georgia?)). I would love not to feel competitive about salaries and technology and crap, and I think if I believed in the work I did, money would not be as important.

That's all that currently come to mind, at least the life-changing ones. I have other ideas, but they are more minor, and they depend on what these larger items do or do not turn out to be.

If anybody reading this has any opinions on my lists, or if you have any additional ideas about what you can see me doing, or not doing, I am very open to suggestions and comments. All feedback is welcome!
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ferretsofglory From: ferretsofglory Date: July 25th, 2004 10:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Americus is so not big city, I can tell you that for sure.

Come to Florida and write! Be like Hemingway!
mrdisco99 From: mrdisco99 Date: July 25th, 2004 10:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Americus, GA is a pretty small college town... not a whole lot there.

It is, however, within driving distance from here, so of course I'd recommend it. :)
renniekins From: renniekins Date: July 26th, 2004 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
ah! That is a plus indeed. How far? (: It looks kind of in the middle of nowhere, on the map. And I think Georgia gets really humid? But those are fairly minor considerations, really....
abrokenstarr From: abrokenstarr Date: July 25th, 2004 10:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you were looking into coming to the UK, we would be happy to help out however we could.
infernus1218 From: infernus1218 Date: July 25th, 2004 10:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you want to come to Chicago, I can try to help you find a job with my company.
hannunvaakuna From: hannunvaakuna Date: July 25th, 2004 11:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
The world is out there waiting for me to make a difference in it...

i can think of a certain community-service oriented organization that would LOVE to have you, especially if you're taking your time in making big major decisions about your life (: if you're at all interested in the Jaycees, we can talk specifics anytime you want. we do good things (:

in all seriousness, i can somewhat relate to your conundrum here. i know i'm *ready* for something else, but i'm not 100% sure what that something else is. some things to consider in making a decision: will your current employer pay for schooling/tuition/certifications? if they will, it might be worth sticking around to get school paid for. my employer will only reimburse up to $700/year for education, so it's not worth it for me to try to get a 2nd masters degree on their dime. that's par for the course in working for municipalities, though. i imaigne it's different in the private sector.

i'd love to see you writing more - you have a way with words and i bet you could do something with it.

dinner/snack sometime this week? let me know (:
renniekins From: renniekins Date: July 26th, 2004 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
hee! I wondered if you'd have something to say about that. I dunno, the jc's seem to me more of a social organization to me...but I'd be interested to hear your opinion. (:

I believe we have pretty good education reimbursement, but I should find out more details. That's a good point. Although I'm not sure what I really need another degree for, it'd just be for the sake of doing something new.

Yes, are you still working late? Something late would work well for me, busy week at work. Wed or thurs perhaps, drop me a note.
hannunvaakuna From: hannunvaakuna Date: July 26th, 2004 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
each chapter is unique... some do more community stuff, some do business-related things. my chapter is pretty social, but we do stuff in the community as well. of course i'd love to see you join *my* chapter, but there's a chapter in Royal Oak, Madison Heights and Troy, too. each is totally unique as far as programming/service, etc. it's member-driven, too - what the membership wants to do is usually what gets done. usually (:

we're on summer hours. mondays are my late (8pm) days, the rest of the week i work 'til 6. thursday would work really well... drop me a line and maybe we can hammer something out (:
encorecrazay From: encorecrazay Date: July 26th, 2004 02:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Here's a little exercise: write your own obituary. What do you want it say that you did with your life?
hannunvaakuna From: hannunvaakuna Date: July 26th, 2004 09:09 am (UTC) (Link)
that totally reminds me of something i once heard... i'm paraphrasing here, but it's basically the idea that your life span (in this case, renniekins's life span, and my own) would be 1971 - 20??. the numbers where those question marks sit is irrelevant. it's what you do with the dash that is important. what will you do with your dash?
renniekins From: renniekins Date: July 26th, 2004 06:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
hmmm.... interesting idea.

"The world is a little bit brighter because she was here. Our lives are a little bit emptier now that she is gone."

Kinda trite. Will require more thought.
encorecrazay From: encorecrazay Date: July 26th, 2004 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Most obits list what the person accomplished which runs the gamut from raising children to being president.
encorecrazay From: encorecrazay Date: July 26th, 2004 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Forgot to mention that I'll dig through some of my files on career/life planning and let you know when I find them.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: July 28th, 2004 07:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Cool, thanks. (:
netmouse From: netmouse Date: July 26th, 2004 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I know how you feel. I am totally there. Well, except that I got a tech-related master's and instead of programming I'm doing non-tech work that seems even more a waste of my time, and yet at the same time wondering if the jobs I'm applying for would feel any more worthwhile. But I know if I just had my weekends free I would be more able to pursue my most rewarding activities, and that would be a huge step forward.

Better to go back to school during a job slowdown and hopefully come back on the upswing than do the reverse, which is what I did.

Sometimes I think about starting a new company. I have so many talented friends around who want better jobs. I'm willing to go to the trouble of starting one and running one, if I only had a vision of what we should do.

If you want to rent out your house and live cheaply somewhere, we have an extra room you could rent out for not much. I could help edit whatever you write...

perhaps we need to start a writers commune. I have a couple other friends who should relocate and write too. Though they are also both considering going back to school...

Finding purpose in life is a big challenge, and I think it requires a fair bit of optimism and hope... dreaming, one might say. This quote struck me recently:

Perhaps desire will never be fufilled. But to live is only worth the effort if you live in hope. And living in hope is a discipline, a practice that can be learned (p 315, Fire Logic, by Laurie J. Marks).
renniekins From: renniekins Date: July 26th, 2004 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good quote, thanks for sharing.

if I only had a vision of what we should do.

I think that is my problem: I don't have a good vision, or at least I don't have a single vision that I can focus on.

Lots of food for thought, thanks....
stillriver From: stillriver Date: July 26th, 2004 06:29 am (UTC) (Link)
The world needs good computer programmers, so I would encourage you to stay in IT.

Maybe you can try yourself as a consultant. I should pay better and you will be working on the variety of projects. You might check these guys out :
renniekins From: renniekins Date: July 26th, 2004 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for your input! Interesting link, and they are right near by...do you have any experience with this company?
stillriver From: stillriver Date: July 26th, 2004 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
We plan to outsource the web-development to them (If we convince our conservative CEO to go for it). So far we had a couple of meeting, where we dicussed our projects and they showed us a few web-sites they developed. Apparently they have variety of projects - from relatively small ones like us to a complex B2B systems developed for the big steel company. They also seem like a very nice group of people.

So, if I had the skills and was ready for the job change, I would have applied for the job there.

mrs_sweetpeach From: mrs_sweetpeach Date: July 26th, 2004 08:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, personally, I don't want you to leave the area. However, and in spite of my selfish desire to keep you around, I'd say apply for one or both of the positions with Habitat for Humanity. I don't know much (okay, anything) about them as an employer, but I do know they do great work in building homes for those who need them most.

The only caveat is that Habitat is almost certainly a Christian organization. I don't know whether they or their employees are prone to evangelizing, but if you have a low tolerance for that sort of thing, you may want to investigate further before accepting a position with the organization.

As an aside, I keep hoping to see reference to a build welcoming atheists and agnostics. I am aware the builds are supposed to be nondenominational, but it's never been clear to me whether or not that includes those who do not believe in any organized religion.

renniekins From: renniekins Date: July 26th, 2004 12:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I spent quite a bit of time this weekend reading stuff on their website. Habitat is a non-denominational Christian organization, yes. That wouldn't be a problem for me though, because I am a (quiet) Christian myself.

They state all over the site that they do not discriminate by race or religion in choosing who to build a home for for though.

Your question surprised me, because it never occurred to me that an athiest or agnostic would not be welcome, and I wonder why you feel that way? Although I have discovered that it is a Christian organization, I never knew that until now. I have never noticed it advertised as such, nor have I noticed their builds and work to be "religion oriented". Why do you want them to say that athiests are welcome? I think it makes more sense to not mention religion at all -- after all their work is primarily about building homes for those in need.

When I raised money for the Race for the Cure, I never said that athiests and agnostics were welcome to help, even though I happen to be a Christian. I also didn't specifically encourage blacks or one-legged people, I just asked that anybody who wanted to donate do so.

I looked at the Detroit site, and under the main volunteering section they do mention that "Individuals, churches, and companies" are encouraged to donate. But that was the only place I saw churches/religion mentioned in my quick looking around.

Here is where they describe "what to expect" when you volunteer.

hmmm...unless you are referencing some specific Habitat project or build that was already organized by a church group? Because lots of groups do organize builds to work with Habitat. That might explain it.... Interesting.
mrs_sweetpeach From: mrs_sweetpeach Date: July 26th, 2004 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Am I correct in thinking that you think I hold a low opinion of the Habitat for Humanity folks? Actually, I'm a fan of their work and have been since 1995, when I read Millard Fuller's book A Simple Decent Place to Live. Not that I've ever gotten around to volunteering at a build, but that's due to innate laziness and not a reflection of my feelings about the organization. It's because I have such a high opinion of them I think you should apply there; if I didn't I certainly wouldn't advocate applying for a job that will result in you moving out of Michigan.

In terms of they build for, it's true that they don't discriminate based on race or religion. But it does seem to me that they go out of their way to point out the religious aspect of what they do — for example, the official start of the August 22-28 Blitz Build in Pontiac is the Blitz Build Prayer Vigil.

I've also noted that press releases and newspaper articles concerning builds usually list the participants' religious affiliation(s) and in all the time I've been following Habitat for Humanity I have never seen one that mentioned atheists or agnostics.

I don't seem to be the only person with this concern; in looking around the web, I found a letter to Habitat for Humanity expressing the same concern by a former volunteer.

From: nicegeek Date: July 26th, 2004 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it's easy to get in the habit of feeling offended by evangelicals who try to impose unwelcome demands on other people's time. But when the people in question are donating their own time or money to a charitable cause, it's a different situation.

If a religious charity wants to credit their religion as the inspiration for their charitable acts, I don't have a problem with it; they're performing a considerable public service, and have earned the right to say "This house brought to you by Jesus (or Cthulhu, or whomever)". If they do so, they should make sure that their prospective volunteers know their intent; it's then up to the volunteers whether they wish to participate, or find (or form) some other organization to channel their humanitarian drives.

renniekins From: renniekins Date: July 26th, 2004 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, I didn't think you hold a low opinion of them. I was just interested in your response, so I spent some time thinking about it and looking around. Thanks for that link; it's often hard to find a disenting viewpoint, and I'd like to be informed about an organization I'm considering joining!

Like you though, I still think they do good work. I especially like the way it's not just a "gift" ...the recipients work on the houses too.

I don't really know yet...but the idea of working for a non-profit really intrigues me -- the idea of participating in something I felt strongly about instead of just earning a paycheck. Certainly Habitat for Humanity is an organization I've liked for a long time, which is why I started by looking there.

(It would be really sad moving away from you and my other friends though!)
kevinnickerson From: kevinnickerson Date: July 26th, 2004 10:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm going to put in a disent. I understand the feeling for a need for a change. The problem is that the change never really works. You (or at least I), get all geared up on "if I just change this one thing, life will be grand. All the little disatisfactions will fade away". And then you find out that nothing has really changed. Why not? Because you're still there, and you're still you.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: July 26th, 2004 11:54 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree that I will always be "just me". But I am not convinced that this means change is useless. Are you really saying that nobody should bother to change jobs, change homes, strive for something better, or try something new?
kevinnickerson From: kevinnickerson Date: July 26th, 2004 12:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, I'm not saying that, but the reasons have to be right. "I hate my job, I can barely drag myself into the office" is a good reason to change jobs, or even careers. "I feel like I'm treading water", or "I should be doing something more with my life" isn't such a good reason to me.

It's the difference between vague dissatisfaction with life and a fire in the gut I suppose. The later leads people to do great things. The former gets them in worse trouble (bad jobs, bad marriages, etc.)

So, if you feel strongly about HFH as a great thing that needs to be done, and you're just the person, then you should jump on it. If's it's clinical depression speaking, well it won't help.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: July 26th, 2004 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree in part. I definitely don't think "a vague dissatisfaction" should lead one to hop randomly from job to job and make frequent life-changes without results. But I've been at my job for almost 8 years, and while it is comfortable, I want more from my life than comfort. I have felt this dissatisfaction brewing for a year, maybe two, and I feel it is time for some kind of change.

I believe that there are great things out that that I can and should be doing. I believe it is time for me to try something new, and not let inertia keep me from trying to make my life and the world better.

I think I have a "fire in my gut" for a lot of ideas... I just haven't decided where to focus it. I'm just not sure exactly what direction I should try next, but without taking some sort of risk I know I won't get anywhere extraordinary.
From: nicegeek Date: July 26th, 2004 12:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
This sounds like a case of creating excessively high expectations. How about instead deciding "If I start by changing this one thing, it will alter my life in a way that will probably make it better (in some way). Then I can decide if I want to change something else."
lahabiel From: lahabiel Date: July 26th, 2004 01:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some of the most interesting people I know are in their 40's or 50's and still haven't decided what they want to "do with their lives." It's the curse of having too many different kinds of talent. A pretty nice curse to be afflicted with.
jeffreyab From: jeffreyab Date: July 26th, 2004 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)


If you want to test the change waters why not try volunteering with an organization whose goals and methods you have some affinity for?

Most of them need dedicated people who are good with numbers and computers.
fachless From: fachless Date: July 28th, 2004 11:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I hate to say it, but money really does matter. As I work in a non-profit, which I completely believe in, I will admit that the "love" portion helps. It's just hard to convince the grocery store to take that love in exchange for food.

You'd be way better off to find something that pays decently and that you still find valuable.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: August 2nd, 2004 09:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Good point. I'm still looking for decent pay to live comfortably. I just wouldn't stress as much about "market rate" and such.
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