Building My Skill Set For The Career I Want

My job is not going to get better. It’s not just the weekend work, though there is that. It’s that I’m not doing the type of work I want. And that’s something I either have to stick out or actively change.

The type of work I want to do has this common thread. Writer, tinkerer, editor, data journalist, director. I want to tell stories. Whether it be through words or visual images or podcasts or objects. Whether real or fiction. A good story makes me feel whole.

To get there, though, I need two things: (1) financial stability to do the work on my terms and (2) the skills to actually be able to tell a story. Become a better writer, learn how to spec out designs, get those audio engineering skills, etc. Whatever it is, I don’t want to find myself eight years from now at financial independence starting from zero. I want to have ideas and the capacity to execute on those ideas. And in order to do that, I need to be putting in the work not just in my finances.

I asked my fiancé where he thought I should start: create a podcast, start writing short stories again, or work on data visualization projects? I need to focus only on one thing at a time. He said I should try the dataviz. It’d be easier on my introversion than an interview podcast. Besides, it’d be pretty.

Honestly, I have the biggest mental block with regard to the dataviz path. Looking up libraries to use, learning a new set of frameworks, etc. It all feels way too much like work. Those initial steps before getting into the flow of coding are always a big on pain and low on pleasure. I’ve also failed at getting myself to focus on this before.

There are benefits going down the dataviz path though. For one, it would be a legitimate career transition. I’d be closer to doing something I like and make good money. For another, I have some skill already. Even if it’s not at the level I want it to be, I’ll be able to see results and level up quicker than through other creative pursuits. Plus I already have a project in mind.

The only question now is how much time I’m going to dedicate. I need to block off chunks of time. Otherwise, mid-task, I know I’m going to feel like things are too hard and get distracted by blogs or YouTube or whatever else. For now, I’m going to schedule two four-hour sessions a week, using Freedom to kick me out of my distraction. Taking it one step at a time.

What is the career you want to have? How do you plan to get there?

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5 thoughts on “Building My Skill Set For The Career I Want

  1. That sounds like a really interesting path!

    So, I essentially have the career I wanted and still want, but there are parts of my job that aren’t working well for me right now. Despite trying, I don’t have good ideas to change them in the near term, so my strategy is to wait it out. This “waiting it out” strategy is really not working that well in terms of satisfaction, but I don’t have another plan. Part of it is other things and I just need to shift my attitude. I do need a new challenge (outside of work most likely) to distract me, but I haven’t done the work to figure it out yet. So, I guess that is step 1, come up with some options and brainstorm.

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    1. Yeah, I’ve learned that waiting it out at a job just feels really painful. I’m sorry your job is not ideal right now.

      One thing that helped me brainstorm was using Jacob from ERE’s concept of a “web of goals.” It’s explained better in his book than on the website but the gist is basically to write our all your general life goals (whether it be skill leveling, physical, financial, etc). Then connect as many of those goals to an activity you might wish to pursue.

      So if, for instance, I want to get better at writing, become a better cook, and improve my coding skills, I might write a program to auto-generate recipes and then write a cookbook/cooking memoir around that. The method helped me think about pursuing activities that reinforce multiple goals/aspects of my ideal self in an interesting way.

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      1. Interesting idea!
        Waiting it out is half of it, adjusting my attitude and actions is another part of it that I have more control over and really need to do.

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  2. I started out in journalism and pivoted into digital marketing/content. I enjoy writing/editing but it’s not what I want to spend every hour doing; I really enjoy getting stuck into UX and analytics as well. I don’t know what my long term plan is, I imagine the field will keep opening up and new types of jobs will be created as I progress further, at least I hope!

    I would say most creatives specialise in 1-2 media, it’s rare to be an expert across text, visuals, audio, video. What would you say you lean more towards? (I’m purely words, really)

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    1. I feel split about it, honestly.

      One of the things I struggle with is that I’m a strongly visual and analytic thinker without artistic skill. I have a very difficult time communicating the things that come to mind. Part of me wants to lean toward visual expression since that’s a better reflection of my internal state anyway. Plus, going into data crunching would be more remunerative, and the aspects of that field that are most interesting are in the visual presentation.

      On the other hand, for whatever reason, I have a much stronger desire and preference to practice in text and audio. They both feel more familiar and better suited to the kinds of stories that I would prefer to tell. I also think I’d like to prove to myself I can be “good with words” since it’s something I struggle with daily.

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