What would your perfect work day be like? No really. Think about it. Try and imagine a scenario where you would be completely satisfied with your professional life.
If you’re like me, it’s not that easy to picture. But I found it a valuable daydreaming exercise when someone asked me that question recently.
Because it’s a quick and practical shortcut into discovering the kind of work you want to be doing: how would your day look if you were doing what you really want to be doing.
Is it being on a whitewater raft navigating some dangerous rapids, or playing piano in the penthouse of a glassy skyscraper, or travelling the world. Or sitting at home (or in the park) tap-tap-typing away? Or something else.
I’ve asked a few people, and surprisingly, many (most) of them aren’t sure.
Well, yeah. But: how are you ever going to achieve it if you have no idea what it looks or feel like?
My perfect workday
So I have been thinking about my perfect workday, and I’ve come to the realization that there isn’t any single scenario I love above all others. In fact I’ve got a bunch of things I really like doing, and one of the strands that connects them all is diversity.
I’ve got a whole bunch of different things that I enjoy doing and am thrilled when I get paid to do them
- Sitting in on a production meeting for a corporate film
- Hosting a comedy show
- Sitting at home writing blogs, scripts, and websites
- Freestyle rapping
- Going for coffee with friends
- Teaching a workshop on public speaking
- Designing a lesson plan for a corporate training
- Performing improv
- Speaker coaching
- Acting in a film
- Doing a voiceover
This range of activities and the unpredictability of my schedule – which I mostly love – have been on my mind lately, because I had a job interview this week.
Interviewing for a J-O-B
I’d applied because the position looked good – it was for an editor role, and it was for three or four days a week (it wasn’t clear in the ad). I chose to believe it was for three days. The pay wasn’t great, but for three days a week of stability and regularity it seemed like a decent trade off. Plus I love writing and editing and know communications stuff, so it all sounded good.
The practical concern was that, as much as I love not knowing what I’ll be doing or where and when I’ll be doing it, from week to week, it can feel unstable (because it is). And tiring.
So I applied for this steady less-than-full-time job and got myself as far as the interview stage. The interview started out alright. But then, early on in the process (about two sips of water and three questions in) I learned that, while the amount of money stated in the ad was correct, it was most certainly for four days and not three. Same amount of money for working four out of five days, rather than three out of five.
I did my best to contain my reaction, but there was a real visceral disappointment. Not just about the money, it was mostly about the number of days; I had convinced myself that three days a week would be ideal, really. But four days a week was just too close to being back in an office full-time. And I felt it physically.
And I think my feelings were apparent to my interviewers. I may have briefly winced before I regained control of my facial features. Wincing is not a good job interview look.
Freedom comes at a cost
Even though I’ve proven myself able to function in an office environment, I realize that, barring some major changes, I can only allow myself to go back on my own terms.
I’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like to be more in charge of my own days and time and the ability to earn what can reasonably be called ‘a living’ by doing things that interest me or I’m passionate about, and collaborating with friends, meeting new people, creating new stuff and bringing together things like acting, improv, education, writing, creativity, collaboration and so forth… well, it’s quite literally a dream come true.
And while my day-to-day life isn’t quite my perfect workday, there are enough exciting events and highlights that it’s pretty close.
And I won’t change that if I can help it. At least not without a whole lot of wincing.