They say that in order to get high blog traffic, your best bet is to make your blogs short with a catchy title. And don’t write about yourself too much because then the readers won’t be able to see themselves in your words. This blog breaks all those rules. I apologize. I hope you’ll read it anyway and share it with your friends because I believe this message is vital to living the life you want to lead and I wish someone had shared it with me earlier.
Black and White
When deciding how to spend our time, it’s easy to look for the black and white options. I will either pursue this career or that career, this path or that path, this choice or that choice…as though life were always that dichotomous. Sure, our time is limited and we can’t do everything, but our opportunities aren’t as cut-and-dry as we’d like them to be. If we’ve chosen to accept black and reject white, we might miss out on all the potential gray has to offer. Adopting the “gray philosophy” has changed my life and opportunities dramatically and I know it can for you too.
My Journey Into the Gray
I spent the first several years of my professional life with black and white tunnel vision. I have a degree in education, so I became a full time teacher in a public school district with a good reputation. Then I decided to get an advanced degree in education with the hope of teaching college at a small school in a small town and then move up to a large school in a large town. That’s the well-trodden path that others have forged for me. If you do A, B, and C then X, Y, and Z will happen.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that path, but I realized I was on a straight freeway when I was really looking for a curvy backroad – the kind that might lead to a dead-end, or right back to where you started, but could also lead to an amazing scenic overlook you never expected. That’s when I decided to start my own consulting business.
I did not jump in with two feet with the “sink or swim” mentality that some entrepreneurs recommend. I put my toe in the water with a blog and a few workshops here and there while continuing to teach full time. As my business grew and I quit my teaching job to pursue my doctorate, I felt pressured to keep my worlds separate. “Nobody outside of teaching cares about my teaching background,” I thought, “and nobody in education will understand the opportunities I’m trying to explore outside the classroom walls.”
I thought I was on two very separate paths but I’m now starting to see that they aren’t separate at all; I’m just forging my own in the middle.
Since leaving the classroom, I have continued to grow my consulting business with both students and adults. I use my expertise in education to coach college students on time management and speak to high school and college audiences about how to succeed. I became a consultant with a bank delivering financial literacy seminars to student and adult audiences. I also travel around the country delivering professional development workshops for a non-profit that offers adaptive assessment software to school districts. And I teach music as an adjunct professor at Arizona State University. And I sell my three books on Amazon.com as I’m writing my fourth.
Where in the world is the manual for that career path? Where is the black and white? What do I tell people when they ask, “What do you do?”
I have no idea where this “path” will lead, but I do know that if I had continued to view my life as a series of black and white options, if I had continued to believe that teaching in the K-12 classroom was the only thing I could do with a degree in education, I would have been blind to so many exciting opportunities.
Expand Your Own Tunnel Vision
Your career path probably isn’t as narrow as you think it is. Don’t let your focus on one path blind you to possible detours and side streets that could lead to slightly different and new possibilities. Just because it isn’t “typically” done doesn’t mean it can’t be. Don’t be afraid to waste your time on an activity or opportunity that doesn’t fit the mold. Be creative. Be open to new things. Most importantly, find what you love doing and then find a way to get paid for it, even if it means taking the road less traveled or forging your own path. (See how I waited until the end for the trite Robert Frost poem reference? Go ahead and admire my restraint.)
Thanks for making it all the way to the end! I’d love to hear your comments. Either comment below or email me at Emily@TheTimeDiet.org. Thanks friends! Now go enjoy your week and feel free to tip-toe off the path and see where it takes you.
Photo credit: Freedigitalphotos.net