I've been doing some career soul-searching. This is not unusual for me. I do all kinds soul-searching -- ideal house soul-searching, ideal wardrobe soul-searching, ideal wedding-planning soul searching, ideal life plan soul-searching -- all the damn time. It drives Bartender Dude up the wall. When he's feeling particularly fed up with this trait of mine (generally concomitant with me begging him for things to fulfill this ever-moving target) he says I can't be happy with the now, with what is currently in front of me or what I'm currently living. He's right of course, and there is a grain of truth, a need for the balanced view to mitigate this aspect of my personality. But I can't help it. Its part of what makes me, me.
So back to the career soul-searching. Like many people out there, I have never either known what I wanted to do or enjoyed what I did. I've pretty much always made career choices that led me up a zig-zagging corporate ladder that has provided increasing levels of stability and salary. I don't really look back on any of this as being a waste of time -- after all, its taken me this long to even begin to get my childhood/emotional/whatever you want to call them distortions out of the way and grow into a proper, self-knowing adult. But now I've come to a realisation, spurred on by the availability of a different job within my organisation and the blank, tired feeling of trying to stay motivated in a current job that is both difficult and boring.
This is what I've realised: I think I would be happier doing work that is intellectually engaging or, for lack of a better term, intellectually creative. The thing about being a "business person," which is essentially what I do now -- a kind of vague catch-all for going to lots of meetings and duplicating lots of efforts -- is that while it does require many kinds of intelligence, it does not require creative intelligence. I need to be specific here -- I don't mean that people can't be creative in the way they go about their jobs, or solve problems. What I mean is that, for the most part, unless you are the very top of an organisation, being a "middle manager business person (THINGIE)" does not involve creating an intellectual offering. It involves things like strategy and implementation and endless consulting and oiling the machine and soothing egos. It involves a TON of communication and re-calibrating the way things get done and loads and loads of personality manouevering. I tell you I find that kind of stuff emotionally draining.
The job that is open in my company that has caused this epiphany of understanding, or categorisation in my brain, is a producer for one of our web content channels (health, to be specific). This job involves creating an intellectual offering for consumption by our members, or to speak more plainly, it involves spotting and developing (and even in some instances creating) good writing and cool online tools for our members to read and use. Now this job, in terms of salary and responsibility, would constitute a step down for me, and I find myself in that difficult mid-career cake-and-eat-it-too dilemma.
Because if this step down represented a temporary diminishment in order to earn my chops "officially" doing something I already know I can do, in order to ascend later and re-fashion my career into a more agreeable future, then I really think I will go for it. But if there is nowhere internally for this position to go, and if the salary drop is seriously considerable, then I don't think I will go for it, not least because I have to save all my spare ducats for this damn wedding because Oh My Holy Lord I am constantly raising the bar on what I want for that part of my life too.
So you see. Its a good thing I have Bartender Dude to slap some sense into me from time to time, but it doesn't make these crossroad, golden-handcuff dilemmas any easier to wrestle with.
You can't fight personality, baby.