Her Story: Life is a Game of Inches
Contributed by guest writer, Sarah Clayton, who is a resident word nerd and activity evangelist at a Toronto based SASS company. She loves collaborating with interesting minds and does a mean graffiti bike ride - with high calibre snack stops along the way.
How I took control of my career, by taking on an active role in where it went. Each step of the way, an inch closer to where I want to be.
Confinement, papercuts + tree derivatives:
November 2013 saw my days in the 8 x 10 confinement of a copy room at a real estate company, and as one might imagine, I didn't love the situation. My friends were travelling or paying their dues in careers they were passionate about while I got papercuts and had mild freak-outs about the future. I had entered the workforce without really thinking about what I wanted to accomplish over my next 40 odd years trading time for money.
Here's the thing: scanning the contents of a stack of binders twice your height gives you a lot of time to think. Ample. I cannot emphasize how much time I spent scanning tree derivatives. In those months, I realized how passive I was being. The only hand waiting to give me the “cool” life I’d always dreamed of having was my own. Which had me think: what was my cool?
I'm an incredibly random person. I will be hiking through the woods at 1, antiquing at 4 and slurping up gin cocktails at 11. I was spinning my professional wheels because my approach was out of sync with my modus operandi. I was assuming I had to pick and commit when I needed to investigate and contemplate. As someone who is driven by change and variety, I realized I would be a lot happier if I was cognizant about integrating my motivators to the context and content of my life.
Now that I had had this (potentially copy fume induced) revelation, I felt I owed it to myself to actually act on it. So, to answer the question above, I thought about my cool. Activities and adventures are my jam: I definitely wanted to integrate them into my professional life and work in a variety of area codes. Seeing people in action with their passions also put collaboration pretty high on my list, as was getting to be able to think outside of the box and have diversity in physical space. Considering my career goals as agile pieces instead of a set structure made moving forward less intimidating because it gave me wiggle room to figure shit out along the way.
No Copy Room Regrets - Just the First Step
As much as I hated that copy room, I will tilt my (five-panel) hat to it for being my first step. Which brings me to my next step: getting out of real estate and into an industry that would closer align to my intentions and ambitions. I started as a receptionist at an advertising/tech company where I definitely got the role variety I sought. Experiences spanned from getting my bosses lunch in - 20 winters to drone lessons and seeing work in motion that actually made me think about what I wanted to do. I asked questions, built relationships, and learned about things beyond what I would have even thought to initially ask or consider.
Time + small steps to my dreams
I spent the next few years focusing on trying new things and taking a lot of small steps. If you want to make a significant change in your environment that change is going to take time. You need to be active in pursuing it, and you need to be patient. Every time I got frustrated with a task I pivoted* my thinking to something that would bring me closer to what I wanted instead of something I didn’t want to do.
A lot of it comes down to making a conscious effort to put yourself in an environment where your ideal situation is at least possible. Sometimes you need to go through a few iterations before the final plan comes into play, and the only way to actually figure it out is to start putting hypothesis to the test. It took me 5 years, and by November 2017 my workspace was a rooftop in Buenos Aires.
*you think I’m not going to sneak this word in? Guess again.
share with us
Can you relate to Sarah's story? What's your story? What revelation have you had in your career? Do you find you are living your true best self?