It’s very easy to keep peddling when it’s been routine and habit for so long. Muscle memory keeps you at it oblivious of intent, churning the pedals over without little thought of where you’re going or why you’re doing it. Unfortunately, I reckon, half the time you’re going nowhere. You may as well be peddling an exercise bike. It’s an expenditure of time and energy, and the only thing you get closer to is the end.
Because I’ve got a restless nature I’ve been aware of that more than most. I was never content with the same old. I wanted to try different things, look at different landscapes, wanted to experience the rich variety of life. I actually wanted to get moving, and feel the wind in my hair.
You can argue about the success of that. On the one hand I’ve attained much of those objectives, experienced the new and different, tasted and felt and wondered. I’ve had an interesting life. And for a long while professionally it was very beneficial. Because I was daring enough to try different things doors were opened to me, and my career progression accelerated. I achieved.
Against that the very boldness probably came to count against me. The risk always is of over-reach, and that I did, and paid for it. Times change to, and a talented, driven generalist like me is overlooked for specialists happy to identify with their role. I was too much the individualist. The greatest loss perhaps is personal – because I was so busy changing direction, so keen on looking ahead and taking in the world about me, I had little time (or inclination) to commit to something more stable, and feel that absence.
I’m not complaining. There’s no point to it, besides, I have few real regrets – though certainly there are things I wish had gone differently. In the end you are who you are, and who you are in large part determines the life you lead. Things might have been different, but then I’d have been a different man to.
I am in a situation now where I am peddling hard just to stay alive, and very aware of it. As I peddle I cast an eye to either side looking for some other way forward. There must be something better I think, but I can’t find it. I keep peddling. It’s an unsatisfactory experience. I barely get by, and there’s little pleasure in my life. Most days are like groundhog day, and the days become weeks. It’s a tight existence but I keep peddling. It’s a necessary evil, and my penance if you’re inclined to a more theological view of the world. I’ll do this as long as I have to, and reckon I have another 18 months in me of this – but something has to change, sooner rather than later if possible.
To that extent I’ve conducted a mini self-assessment these last few days. I’ve jotted down different options for work and home. They’re like post-it notes, things I can shift around and combine in different variations.
For example, for work I’ve got the current situation, a mid-level role (at best), either here or elsewhere. Another is a more senior role, matching what I did before – much greater pay, but also greater responsibility. There’re more left field options, making a career as a pure writer, for example, or trying something completely different and as yet unknown. There’s a random notion simply noted as ‘entrepreneur’, and the final option which is somehow cobbling a living from a variety of income sources.
To further complicate are living options. The status quo is to remain living in the city and suburbs. But then there are options to move out of the city, with a simple commute to the city. Another is to move away to the city without that easy commute, or to a place like Tassie. There’s even the option to live much more cheaply abroad.
When you begin to match different options together they begin to dictate a lifestyle. I look at them, assessing not just what is most likely or easiest, but I would actually want.
If I could make it work I would probably choose to move out of town tomorrow, to a home in the bush where I can write and grow my vegies and cook, and most likely supplement my income from other sources. I would probably welcome some ‘real’ work every week just to keep me connected, as well as keep me in funds. That probably means somewhere with easy access to the smoke, either by rail or road. (Red Hill would be nice).
How likely is that? Well it aint going to happen tomorrow. Is it something I should start moving towards and plan for? Possibly. And if that’s where I want to head, what’s the pathway there?
If I’m objective about my situation then I figure I’ve got a 15-20% chance of getting one of the high paying, high powered jobs as I used to have. Part of me craves that, but a greater part of me wonders if I have the appetite for it anymore.
I could easily continue in a role similar to this one, and realistically expect over time to reach more senior and higher paying roles (though perhaps not here – reckon I’m blacklisted, and given they have to reduce 5 FTE from Jan 1 reckon a luxury role like mine is a good chance to go). Question is, do I really want to muddle along like this? It would be much easier if I earned more, but even so, there’s little satisfaction in this for a man like me.
Ultimately that means I’m inclined to the less conventional options, which then make possible the less conventional living options. It means, for now, I’ve got my eyes on diversifying my income options – in this day and age, something I reckon everyone should do. I need to identify what those options are and how to go about it. Unless something else falls into my lap that’s my short-term (18 month) goal, and it gives me something to hope for. Everything else unfolds from there.
I’ve got to be myself.