Tag Archives: brainstorming

Perfectionism vs Progress

I have a tendency to guard myself against failure by taking protective measures.  I over-prepare for new tasks.  When my son asked me to paint his bike, I spent two days googling “how to paint a bike,” pored over every article, developed opinions on competing methods, and read reviews of different brands of spray paint before I had even picked up a piece of sandpaper.  And in the end, the bike looked about as good as every other dad-who-doesn’t-know-what-he’s-doing paint job.  This self-protective tendency stems from perfectionism.  My desire to know all the variables, plan every detail, and avoid bumps in the road often keeps me from making any progress.

So, recently, I’ve been taking small steps toward my goals, even though I can’t see the complete path.  Last weekend I took my very first improv comedy class at the St. Louis Comedy Connection.  It’s one piece of the puzzle in my goal to create Brian 2.0.  There was nothing particularly revolutionary or life changing in the content of the class, but it was ACTION.  I wasn’t just watching youtube clips, listening to podcasts, reading comedy books, or researching improv – I was actually doing it.  We learned about the about the concept of “Yes.  And . . . ” where we force ourselves to agree with our scene partners and build on each other’s choices, rather than forcing our pre-conceived notions of where the scene should go.  I need more improvisation in more aspects of my life:  Taking more risks, learning from mistakes, facing my fears, acting before the plan is complete, and pushing through the terrifying moments.

I’ve also begun working on a sitcom pilot idea with my writing partner.  It’s something neither of us have done before, but we’re sticking our necks out there and learning as we go.  We don’t have hours and hours each day to dedicate to it, so our brainstorming and writing times are done in really short bursts.  Again, though, it’s action, and it feels great.  Our current goal is to have a script done in time for a sitcom pilot script contest, which is helping us stay focused and pace ourselves accordingly.  We’re probably making a lot of mistakes, and our writing times aren’t very efficient, but we are making progress and learning.

What are you putting off for fear of failure?  Is the desire for perfection keeping you from progress?

Brian and Stormtrooper

Career Ideas and Next Steps

I’ve established that I’m no longer content with an Information Technology career.  I suppose it’s possible that a shift in attitude, maybe some utopian working environment, or being surrounded by the right people might change my mind, but I’m fairly certain my next “thing” will be in a completely different field.  So, if not IT, then what?  Here are some possibile career ideas I’m considering.  I haven’t landed on anything yet – just have some ideas floating around in my head.  Forgive me if the categories aren’t consistent.  I’m just brainstorming here.

Oh, and before I get to the list, there’s another big factor I sometimes forget about:  people and relationships.  I need to have both in order to thrive.  I can only work so long in isolation.  I sometimes dream of creative careers that are largely void of human interaction like writing novels in some picturesque hideaway in the woods, but I know I wouldn’t last long in such conditions.  I burn out quickly when I’m shut off from people.  If I’m writing something or brainstorming new ideas, I usually try to find a public place like a coffee shop, just so I can have an occasional conversation between stints of heavy concentration.  This paragraph is really more for my own good, so that when I go back and re-read this, I’ll remember this about me.  So, with this out of the way, here are some new paths I’m considering.

Writing

I do enjoy writing, but could I really make a career out of it?  Do I have the dedication necessary to become one of the successful ones?  I think whatever I do for my next gig, writing will definitely be part of it – either professionally, or as an outlet.  I’ve read about people that are able to make very decent livings from blogging.  I love the idea of the freedom that would come with such a career:  working whenever and wherever I want, being my own boss, maybe traveling with my family while I work, but I do realize that these success stories take time, and only a very small percentage of bloggers ever get to this point.  I know it’s possible, and that’s exciting to me.  Getting there would be tough, but I’m fairly certain I could do it if I put my mind to it.  I might also consider copywriting, depending on the situation.  I’d LOVE to write comedy sketches or sitcom material for a living – I’ll talk more about that, below.  A friend recently suggested writing screenplays.  That’d be a hoot, but I know that market’s super saturated and I don’t think I know the right people yet.

Social Media / Marketing / Advertising

I think I’ve got the right combination of creative and analytical skills to fit somewhere into this. Social media work seems like a really natural fit, as I enjoy the fluid conversations that this advertising medium elicits, and the near-instant measurable results from social media efforts can be very rewarding.  Ideally, if I were to work in this field, I’d love to work as an independent consultant, managing the social media marketing efforts of several small to mid-sized companies.  Again, I don’t have much on my résumé that indicates that I’m qualified to do such work, but I know I have the aptitude.

Humor

Like writing, I want to utilize my sense of humor in any new direction I take.  And by that, I don’t just mean to maintain a sense of humor alongside of my work. I want to make humor a central characteristic of the work I do.  I love making people smile, helping them lift their eyes up out the muck of the hardness of life, bringing levity to otherwise tough situations.  It’s not just a childish game to play on the side.  Laughter is a reflection of the joy for which we were all created.  It eases tensions, breaks down communication barriers, and can help in the process of restoring relationships.  Humor is a part of who we were meant to be, and I take great pleasure in reminding people of this.

I’m currently involved in some comedy sketch writing with a friend, which has been very rewarding.  I dream of being on the writing staff of SNL, Conan O’Brien, or possibly a sitcom.  I don’t know that this is realistic to do with a family, but I think I would be good in that kind of role.  I’m also planning on taking some improv classes in the next month or two.  I’m not sure where that will lead, but I expect it will at the very least help increase my confidence, inspire any writing I do, and encourage me to take more risks in everyday life.  Comedy is just part of who I am.  I’m just now beginning to embrace this and explore possible outcomes, and I’m very excited about the possibilities.

Professional Brainstormer

Can one make a career out of brainstorming?  Because I love to brainstorm.  Is there such a thing as a professional idea-comer-upper?  I think I could do that.  My mind is always “outside of the box.”  Lock me in a room with a group of co-workers, task us with nothing more than listing a bunch of great ideas for eight hours, and I’m a happy man. Does this job exist?

Acting

I’m keeping this one in my back pocket as something I think I could do, but don’t really have much experience with it.  I’m hoping to explore some of my potential here as I take the improv classes.  Maybe voice acting, occasional commercials, or something like that.  Honestly, I’m not sure I have what it takes to act professionally, but it interests me, so I list it here.

Music

I’ve flirted with music as a career since college, but I’ve never put in the time to make a serious go at it.  I play drums in a couple of bands, and have just enough skills to not embarrass myself while singing at the local acoustic coffee house open mic night.  Perhaps something in concert promotion, band management, or even songwriting could work.  I have a feeling that making my musical hobby a career could suck the fun out of it, but I do still think about the possibilities.

I have several more ideas of some possible next steps.  These are just what’s sticking out to me right now as I write.  My biggest concern right now is figuring out how to make a transition.  I’ve waited for years for something to just fall in my lap, and I think I’m now ready to take some proactive steps to make something happen.  I’m just not sure what those steps are.

I’d love to get some feedback from others who’ve successfully made the transition into a new career.  What’d it take for you?  Who or what motivated you to stick with it?  Or maybe you tried and failed – I’d love to hear those stories, too.  What did you learn?  What would you do differently next time?  I’m especially interested in hearing from people with families.  I know, for instance, many people are able to somehow take time off of full-time work and go back to school while raising a family.  How the heck is that even possible?

I really do hope that writing out my thoughts here is helpful to others.  Maybe my words will encourage you to get off your duff and take some first steps.  Maybe you’ll just take comfort knowing that someone else is going through what you’re going through.

Thanks for reading.  Please leave a comment, below.