Let’s be honest: This last year has been a bit bumpy for me. When I left Birchbox last September, I didn’t really have a much of a plan for what to do next other than to leave myself “open to new opportunities” and to “build the life I want”.
That was pretty vague.
Rule #1 of setting goals: Be specific. Clearly I failed on that front. I knew what “the future” looked like in my head, but I never actually wrote it down anywhere. I never gave myself anything to be accountable to. I never put checkpoints in place to be able to gauge whether or not I was moving in the right direction. Needless to say, I’ve been all over the place these last 9 months.
That’s not to say the time hasn’t been interesting / exciting / educational / etc., but it’s involved a lot of zigging this way and zagging that way without a lot of forward momentum. More importantly (or perhaps more concerning), it’s involved a lot of decisions that were contrary to my goals. I put myself in the situations I was specifically trying to avoid and often made the comfortable and expected choice instead of the one that was riskier, but more inline with what I’m trying to accomplish longterm.
Despite (or maybe due to) all of the zigging and zagging, I’ve actually learned a fair bit over these last few months. I’ve gained some new skills, met some new people, and had some experiences I’m glad I had. The problem, though, is that all of these experiences managed to exacerbate the frustrations I was already feeling. I mean, it makes sense: I did the things I expressly didn’t want to do because they frustrated me or left me unfulfilled and surprise, surprise, they’ve left me even more confused than I was before.
I think I’ve mentioned this a few times in the past, but as time goes on and I work with more startups and tech companies, the more I wonder if I even want to continue my career in tech at all. I haven’t found any really interesting problems to solve lately and doing “product” work feels less and less challenging and therefore less exciting and fulfilling. It almost feels like there’s a formula everyone is trying to follow and I’ve had to do those same things over and over for years now.
It makes me wonder if I should shift industries altogether. The skills of a Product Manager translate to all sorts of roles. Maybe I’d be happier working in education or government. Or maybe I’d be happiest ditching a traditional career and going to start that farm. I still love the thrill of improving systems and building something from nothing, but maybe that something doesn’t have to be a piece of technology?
These days I find myself with more questions than answers. More ideas and options than I even know how to sift through. There are so many different paths laid out in front of me that I’m stuck at the intersection and have no idea which direction to take my next step.
So I decided I needed to change things up dramatically.
I sold a whole bunch of my stuff. I sublet my apartment in NYC. I moved to my mom’s house in NJ. I booked a one-way ticket to Thailand. JFDI, right?
I leave in 2 weeks. I have no idea what I’m going to do when I get there and I don’t know when I’ll be back. I have a pretty limited budget and I haven’t really figured out how I’m going to support myself yet, but I have some ideas and (hopefully) enough time to figure something out.
I realize it’s going to be monsoon season. I realize there’s a coup and a curfew. I realize that I only have 2 weeks to get all of my shots, packing, and life in order before I hop on a plane for 22 hours to the other side of the world.
But it feels like the right decision.
Maybe I’ll realize how much I miss tech. Maybe I’ll realize how much I hate routine. Maybe I’ll finally get my seemingly insatiable wanderlust out of my system and “settle” into a job for the long term. Or maybe I’ll realize that I’m never going to be one of those people who can have an “office job” or a clear career path and accept that I’m one of those people who always needs to be on the move and doing new things. Who knows. And that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?
All I know is that in just about 2 weeks me, my backpack, and my camera will be landing in Thailand. I’ll figure out the rest when I get there.