Too Many Squirrels: Which one do I Chase?
How do I deal with being interested in so many things at once? That’s a question I ask myself all the time.
I love software development; I’m interested in code. I enjoy cloud automation stuff. I like productivity tools and on and on. I’m the type with the ADHD personality where I see a squirrel and go following it. I go after every single piece of new technology that I know and discover. I had a person recently ask me, “Where do I go from my career?” He didn’t say so directly, but from the context of his email, it seemed like he was at the beginning or the middle of his career. He wanted to know where to go.
I have touched this on a previous post called What Makes a Great IT Professional. I also wanted to tell him and to tell you here is that if you are like me having a lot of different interests, how do you pick which one to do and focus on specifically?
Recognize your Passions
If you’re like me and you have ADHD tendencies, you have to learn to wait. Let the idea settle in for a little bit. PowerShell, for instance, was the technology that was cool to me (and still is). I could do so many things with it! I went all in, and unlike my past passions, it stayed with me. I continually got excited about it and thought it was cool, ‘I can do this, I can apply it to this,’ and that lasted for some years. If you have such feeling that’s when you start to know that you have something when there’s a feeling of excitement at the thought of it.
When something stays with you for an extended period, and you know there is something to do with it. That’s what changed my career. For me, it started out with PowerShell, and now I’m more into the software development realm and the [inaudible] realm and just automation in general. So, that’s number one thing that you should take into consideration, does that feeling of like and excitement only stay with you for an extended period?
Network with Other Like-minded People
Once you identify your thing, associate with other people. Get involved with the community. Socialize. Go out to your conferences and talk about your view of a particular technology and see how other people are using it.
There are all kinds of people out there passionate about the thing you are and you can learn from them. They’re applying your thing in so many different contexts you can never imagine. Go to conferences, user groups, get involved online on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit any of these forms. They will help you to get some more information on what you’re interested in doing. Start socializing with other people, so you get more ideas on your interest.
Start a Side Hustle
Get involved in a side or remote job like consulting. Upwork.com is an excellent site where you can bid on projects. The experience gained from projects will help you understand more of what you like but also see different contexts to work with as you advance in that career. You’ll see clients’ problems and how to fix them. Side work like this just gives you a deeper understanding and a deeper relationship with whatever the product that you’re working with. It allows you to explore many different areas.
In my previous company, I loved PowerShell and scripting. That position wasn’t just around PowerShell and scripting but involved SCCM. I was the senior AD support guy, and I used Powershell a lot but I couldn’t use it all the time.
Therefore, I started doing side projects. I would do community projects and I would create GitHub repositories if someone wanted something written in PowerShell. I got involved with the community and socialized with other people remotely. I got paid for the remote projects and gigs.
Your Job is not Your Career
Repeat after me. “My job is not your career”,”My job is not your career”,”My job is not your career”.
Don’t let your current position cut into your passion or dictate what you are going to do for your entire career. Try to fit in as many areas of your interests into your current position as possible. If that doesn’t work, work nights and weekends. Unfortunately, if you want to do something important, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and effort!