In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tough Choices

Things continue to move along at a snails pace here in Estherville and I can't seem to break out of it. I'm getting bored and would like to go back to work but I don't have a clue what I want to do. I'm sort of stuck in a funk where I want to do something but I just can't quite motivate myself to get started.

I've actually enjoyed helping out at the shop now and again and I considered going back there on a more permanent basis if for no other reason then to make some easy money. Most of the work I've been doing has just been diagnostic work, which I enjoy; but last week I went in two days in a row and was doing more general repair work along with the diagnostics. The work wasn't bad but it didn't take me long to remember why I had to leave in the first place. I was really surprised on the second day how quickly my attitude took a dive into the toilet and soon I found myself cursing under my breath at every vehicle I was working on. By noon it was apparent that coming back to work for anything other then just “pinch hitting” wasn't going to be an option.

So that's left me wondering just what I am going to do to try and earn a living. My options are limitless but I don't know where to start. It seems like every week I come up with some idea on something that I think might be fun but the more I think about it the more I realize that they're not what I really want to do either. Man, making decisions sucks!

One thing I have been thinking about pretty seriously is trying to turn photography into a for-profit venture. For years people have asked me if that was something I wanted to do for a living but up until now I've never had a real desire to turn it into a career; or at least into a money generating hobby. The fear is that once it turns into a “job” it will suck all the fun out of it. The upswing would be not only that I'd still enjoy it but that it would stimulate my creativity and give me a whole new passion for it.

I've been doing some research and have been talking to some local studios to see if they need an assistant so I can get a look behind the scenes before I just dive in. Unfortunately this is a really slow time of year for them and they don't need much help. I do get to help out with a large wedding towards the end of the month though and I'm looking forward to that.

Although it's something that I want to try I worry a little bit that I keep dragging my heels. If it was something I really wanted wouldn't I be pushing myself a little harder? The other side of the coin to that is that I don't just want to rush into something that big unprepared and pay for my recklessness later.

Should I take my time, do my research, find a “mentor” to work with, and slowly enter a career in professional photography? This seems like the safe choice and the responsible choice. But is it the right choice? Doing things like studying and researching are good and all but they're no substitute for actually doing. Plus there aren't a whole lot of choices around here when it comes to finding a mentor either.

Or should I just toss away my inhibitions and dive in head first; forcing myself to learn as I go along? There's bound to be mistakes made this way but I'm sure it would also be a much steeper learning curve. Being lazy and not getting anything done all day wouldn't be an option because people would be depending on me to get something done.

If I wait a while I can work on my photography and get some experience not only behind the lens but behind the counter (so to speak) as well while working with professionals in the area. Spring will be the beginning of their busy season and I shouldn't have a problem finding someplace to help out. Hopefully the experience I gain from that would make it an easy transition to go out on my own.

On the other hand that's still a long ways away and what am I going to do until then? If I waited until after summer to start doing photography as a career then I'd be starting out during the slow time of the year.

If I were to "just go for it” now then by the time spring came around I'd have learned some valuable lessons in the school of hard knocks and I'd know what works for me and how I'd want to run my own photography business; and just in time for the busy season.

Or maybe this isn't what I really want to do at all and next week I'll be thinking about something completely different.

I know that all I have to do is actually commit to it personally and then a little switch in my brain will flip. After that most of the nervousness and apprehension will be gone and I'll just do what needs to be done. That's a tough commitment to make though. Funds are dropping though and something will need to be done soon.

Decisions, decisions........

I'd also like to pose a question to all of you out there reading the blog-

What if you could be 20 years old again with the option of taking any career path that you wanted? You've retained all the knowledge that you've gained from your years in the work force and now you can put that to use on a blank canvas. The only thing holding you back would be your desire and determination.

So what would you do?

Would you take the same career path that you took in real life?

Would you have the determination to pursue your dream career no matter how much hard work, time, and money it took to achieve it?

Would you know what you wanted to do?


fasthair said...

HI Punk

I think you need to look at this photo thing a bit different. When you started working for the ol' man you didn't know much or care much about cars. Sure you liked audio systems in them (more so the electronics) but working on them was not something you really thought about doing. Then you worked your way in to the shop and I’ll be damned if you didn’t turned out to be real damn good at it. You studied and learned as you went along and found you really did enjoy it. Yes that desire has faded but that is not the point. The point is you didn’t know much if anything about fixing cars.

Now you find yourself not knowing much about photography either but you want to learn. So do something now in the field that will get you started. One thing is for sure you are going to find out one way or the other if this is something you want to pursue. One of two things will happen by spring. You find out you like photography and will be that much ahead of the game. If not then by spring you will be ready to move on. Doesn’t sound like you got much to loose.

As far as what I would have done 20 years ago? The very same thing I find myself still to this day wanting to do. Go Top Fuel drag racing. I even looked in to helping for free with a couple teams on the NHRA tour. The only thing holding me back is I have a business to run and a great employee who counts on me. Oh and money :-)

Sandeha said...

"Doing things like studying and researching are good and all but they're no substitute for actually doing."

If your intent here is as I would understand it, then I would disagree. Researching is 'doing' in so far as it is the only way to establish a context for what you produce further down the line. Learning 'how' to do stuff is one thing, learning 'about' stuff validates the process. It strikes me that the folks who only know 'how to' suffer a self-limitation that impedes achieving real mastery.

While you may be good with cars, Alan, don't neglect that you are also good with words. If you should make money with your images, I'd bet that it could be your text that clinches the sales.

R Gage said...

Hi Alan, Have been giving your dilemma some thought. Since your in this funk and really can not decide what to do for a living maybe you should drive truck. Don't laugh, they will train you, you are already a excellent driver with a good driving record and a over sized bladder. And while you are motoring down the highway you can do all the contemplating you desire. Most places will even let you bring your dog along. And, it pays very well.

Another thought would be the health field, Scott's daughter got her degree in two years and when she works holiday weekends she drags down 92 bucks a hour. There will certainly be great demand for nurses for years to come with all us baby boomers retiring and getting old, you could go anywhere your heart desires and get a job.

Unbelievable what those nurses can make working long shifts over the weekends, plenty of time off.

Have you considered politics or public service? Your smart and would be able to understand tax policy ect. county could use someone young on the board of supervisors, pay is not bad and comes with health insurance.

Also, don't get to hung up on work, there are 24 hours in a day and work only demands eight of them, on top of that many jobs you get two full days off a week.

You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.