Connecting to the Work | Excitement

October 14, 2014


I shared in my Pollen interview (and in this post and this post) that in 2011 I began a career shift, which naturally began with a moment of crisis: ahhhh! I don't know what I want to do with my life (as these moments generally go). At the time I was climbing the dance grant ladder, assuming that I wanted to make work in more prestigious venues. I also worked as a freelance dance and theatre teacher, piecing together income from a variety of gigs in a variety of schools and arts centers. Neither the teaching nor the choreography was proving to be especially satisfying. I can see now that this was because I was very focused on external validation & doing these things because I thought that's what a career as a choreographer was supposed to (or had to) look like. Also, I hadn't properly identified what made me tick: what energized me; what aspects of my work I was truly good at; what I needed.

So that's what this series of suggestions is about: connecting to the work. You know, uncovering what gets you fired up or what you want to be building. This could lead you to an aspect of your money job that you want to be doing more of, a career shift, or even to finding that thing you want to pour more of your non-work time into. 

In my case, I realized how much I love connecting people to one another and creating shared experiences. I realized how much I liked building things from scratch & directing processes. This led to this blog, Small Art, Small Dances, and working on Open Field-- all of which I found more satisfying than the work I'd been previously doing. And that feels really good.

But in the beginning of this transition, I was pretty unsure of what I wanted to do. I only knew that I wanted some kind of change. The suggestions that follow (well, one for today) seem elementary, but made huge changes in my own life over time. Especially this one:

#1- Keep a list of things that excite you, and why. 
(If you don't know why, that's ok, too.)

This list should contain anything that you feel a strong reaction to-- that you care deeply about or want to spend more time with, or that seems to be jiving with your gut in some way; things you believe in emphatically. They shouldn't be limited to any category (for instance, your career) and certainly don't need to make sense. 

I suggest this because
  • Sometimes, especially in times of transition, it's hard to remember what you like, and it feels good to reconnect with this
  • You can, over time, start to connect the dots between the things that you care about and notice commonalities
  • One thing that excites you can lead you to other things that excite you, and though the first thing might not end up being the thing that really clicks with you, the thing that it leads you to might be (whoa, long sentence, hope it makes sense)
Here's what you can be reassured of: something excites you. Worry less about where this journey might lead you and more about having fun. And yes, I know that this is nearly impossible, but I still put the challenge out there: have some fun.  

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