So… yes. The subtle references and whispered insanities are true: I’ll be leaving Cerado in September.
This means I’m voluntarily entering the worst job market ever to happen in my lifetime — a market in which heartwrenching handfuls of talented peers and friends have been unemployed for over a year now — as a free agent.
There. It’s acknowledged. And that is the last we ever speak of the Impossible Economy in association with me looking for work again. If I can get my mother to stop reminding me of this dismal fact (and I have), surely you can play along with my game, too. Do it as a favor to a friend.
The other seemingly ludicrous point to note is that I’m leaving on very good terms with a high regard for the company, and I’ve sincerely enjoyed working with them. Chris Carfi is an impressive hybrid of creative genius and brilliant storyteller — when it comes to social media marketing, he gets it on both a theoretical and a social level. I’ve learned a lot from working with him, and from working alongside fellow mad genius Mark Resch as well. The clients (hi, BlogHer) and developers (George the PHP guru, Eric the King of iPhone dev, …) I’ve been paired with have also been top notch. I will be sad to let them go.
So why am I leaving? Because it stopped fitting me. What the Job Needed From Me and What I Wanted to Do crept further and further apart over time, and it finally became evident that something had to change. It wasn’t anyone’s fault; it was just growth. And it has a hidden upside for Cerado: being able to let go of the role means I can now help them restructure their management process without my interests in the equation. The result is shaping up to be something that’s much more tailored to their changing needs, with a more efficient use of resources.
I kind of enjoy working myself out of a job. It has a certain satisfaction to it.
It just leaves one question: What’s next?
I don’t know. And call me crazy (I’m used to it by now), but I’m not really interested in job leads just yet. I’d like to give a little more thought first to what I’m looking for.
When I was in Chicago for BlogHer recently, I ran my situation past a childhood friend, Jim Conti. He gave me a useful way of approaching the “what should I do next?” question:
What am I good at?
What brings me joy?
What does the world need me to do?
…and find the intersection of all three of those.
In other words…
When the grownups asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, they forgot to explain that this was what they meant. Most of us probably answered based on how we wanted to be seen, realizing that “astronaut” and “veterinarian” sounded worthy enough of praise. So do “rich” and “famous.”
A psychologist friend of mine made an interesting comment to me recently. She said, “This is going to sound terrible, but I strongly prefer working with wealthy clients. It’s not because they pay me better. It’s because they already know that money’s not going to fix their problems.”
Neither is doing what they’re good at even if they don’t like it. Or doing what they enjoy when it’s useless to the rest of the world. Or being a miserable martyr for the sake of humanity. We have more work to do than this.
And I still haven’t answered the question.
I know some of the things I’m good at…
– XHTML/CSS development
– Product and project management
– Social media consulting
– Technical and promotional writing
– Public speaking
– Building community spaces
I’m feeling the tugs of what the world wants me to do in terms of social media marketing, community development, and LGBT activism.
I just… might need to get back into the groove of what brings me joy for a bit.
Then maybe I’ll know what I want to be when I grow up.