Which would you regret more?

what ifYou regret more the things you didn’t do than the things you did. No, really, you do.

It’s taken me a very long time to even begin to accept this.

Let me give you an example. When I was offered a paid internship that I was really unsure about taking, one of the first things I asked myself – and one of the first things many others asked me when discussing my dilemma – was which choice would I regret more?

Having worked, unpaid, for the company, I knew lots of the good things about them, but also lots of things I didn’t like so much. I’m very much drawn to variety and new things; I’m bad at commitment. And my expectations for a first job were too high.

I tried to picture myself in the role, and rightly or wrongly felt that I would regret taking on something which I felt so very little enthusiasm for. I knew the company was looking for someone to stay on after the internship and I didn’t want to take the position fully intending to leave after the three months and to be actively looking for other opportunities while in the role. I thought I would feel guilty. I thought that would be taking advantage. Except that’s what opportunities are there for – taking advantage of.

Yes, looking back my thinking didn’t make much sense. Even now I have to remind myself that companies don’t have feelings. You can start a job and quit in a month. It’s about you, not them. And you know what else, I might have changed my mind. I might even have grown to like it – first impressions can be wrong. But let’s keep this balanced, intuition can also be pretty accurate, it might not have worked out. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make here.

I turned it around in my head and asked myself – would I regret more taking something with so little conviction, or would I regret more not taking a risk to continue to look for something better. Of course this is rubbish – I could have worked and searched.

We regret more the things we don’t do than the things we do, because it’s the not knowing that drives us crazy, not making a mistake. We can deal with mistakes because we can learn lots from them. All we can learn from ‘what ifs’ is next time,  just give it a go.

Why career-hunting is just like house-hunting

oldnewhouseI feel like this blog has become a little too idealistic, so I want to bring it back to reality. Sometimes you need to work for money so that you can have your independence, do the things you want to do in your spare time and plan for your future, and, temporarily, that’s ok. If I can just find a reasonable full time stop gap job sometime soon, hopefully, I’ll be happy, and it doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on finding work I think is really great, it just means I’m doing what I can to get by while I’m searching for that great job (or those great jobs – still quite like the idea of a portfolio career…).

As Kirsty Allsopp says on Location, Location, Location (yes I have far too much time on my hands), when house hunting your aim is to find your, what she calls, ‘forever family home’ in as few steps as possible, because moving house is a pain: it’s expensive and time consuming. I like to think career hunting is just the same in that you want to find that great job that suits you so well in as few job changes as possible, because moving from job to job is a pain, and you don’t want to be unhappy for too long in a job that doesn’t fit with who you are and how you want to spend your time.

People can’t afford to buy that perfect house straight away, and they’re not ready to anyway, they might meet a new partner, have (more) children, get a job in a different area, find another part of town they’d prefer to live in. It’s only by experience that they can work out where they want to commit to. And it’s the same with work, very few people will stumble upon their ideal career path early on in their lives, they need to build up experience and find out what’s out there before they’ll find the best fit.

So I haven’t given up on that great job, but I have decided that right now settling is more important than searching, so fingers crossed an ok job comes up soon.

(And to make clear that I haven’t given up on the dream, Create a meaningful life through meaningful work highlights the three things a great job should be – important and meaningful a) in the long term, b) in the opinion of those whose opinion matters, and c) to you.)

The waiting game

waitingstarToday my great aunt gave me a box of chocolates she’d been saving until I got a proper job. She’d obviously given up waiting, and I can’t say I’m surprised, I’m pretty fed up with waiting myself.

Waiting for jobs I want to apply for, waiting for application deadlines to pass, waiting to hear back, waiting to attend interviews, waiting to hear back, waiting for the next opportunity.

This is the start of my career and while I realise that my first proper job isn’t going to be perfect, I also don’t want to settle for something that feels wrong. I don’t believe that my standards are too high, but I’ve been playing the waiting game for a long time now, and something needs to change soon. I don’t want to settle for a job that I have no enthusiasm for, and I don’t feel ready to resign myself to just any old office job just yet. I don’t want to lower my expectations just because that’s what’s expected. 

Essentially I’m struggling with the balance between satisfaction and idealism, compromise and dreaming big. Strive or settle?

Here’s a nice positive article on not giving up (some good comments too): Don’t let low expectations destroy your high hopes and big dreams.

And talking of waiting, my next book should arrive soon…