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Learning curves and being challenged

February 5, 2010

When I lost my job, I resolved to post daily in my blog, in an attempt to a) get used to the idea of blogging regularly, b) to improve my writing, and c) to maybe generate some traffic.

Then, a few weeks ago, I got an opportunity to work with some really cool people (from home, no less), and all of a sudden my “free” time went *whoosh* out the window. Which is wonderful, because the work is fun and interesting and challenging, but it means that some of the stuff I’d had time to do when I wasn’t working has fallen by the wayside.

I suspect that this will change as I get more familiar with working from home, and the work I’m doing. At some point, as always happens, I will hit my stride climbing up this new learning curve, and then my work-life balance will fall back into, you know, balance.

And in my limited spare time, when I’ve stopped what I was doing long enough to reflect on anything other than how tired I am, I’ve been considering how happy, energetic, and excited I feel these days. All the time.

It comes down to something very basic about myself that I learned many years ago, but had kind of been neglecting:
I love learning new things and collecting new experiences.

I especially love learning how to do stuff I’ve never done before. I love the thrill of not knowing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing, and the rush of success that comes from figuring it out. Learning new things can be stressful, sure, and it can be hard, but as some famous person surely once said, “Nothing that’s worth doing is ever easy.”

And in my last job — which I took on the promise of learning new things, and getting to explore the financial industry, which was an experience I had never had before — the process of learning anything because so challenging, and so frustrating, and so unrewarding, that I almost forgot how much I enjoy it. I started doing what was easy, instead of what was interesting, and what I knew was right, instead of taking risks. And little pieces of my soul started to wither and die, neglected, like plant receiving no water.

Because I forgot what Seth Godin wrote in The Dip:

Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.

[…]

Quit the wrong stuff.
Stick with the right stuff.
Have the guts to do one or the other.

I was stuck in a Dip in that job. I was stuck for almost five months, which is about four months longer than most of my previous learning curve/dip experiences have lasted. But you know what’s cool about the experience? I now know what the wrong stuff feels like. *beams*

And this new stuff? This new adventure that I’m embarking on now? This is definitely the right stuff. It’s almost completely 180 degrees from what I was feeling and thinking when I was doing my last job, stuck in that last Dip. That, alone, is remarkable, but the fact that I wake up energized and excited every morning is a brilliant change of pace.

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