Rethinking and reevaluating life and work

Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

Like many of us, I am rethinking and reevaluating my life and, more broadly, my career. This process is no easy thing, that is for sure. Nevertheless, I am constantly looking for guidance, inspiration, and new approaches with the end goal of living a fulfilling life.

Regarding my career and business, one of the projects I am using to kickstart this process is the ZigZag project from Manoush Zomorodi.

I decided to write about this process “in the open” to share my experience and learnings. But, at the same time, use it as a diary to reflect on.

The first episode ends with a prompt and an assignment which I will write about today.

The prompt

“I would describe this time in my life and career as __, and I wish I could __.”

Here is my sentence with the blanks filled in.

“I would describe this time in my life and career as scary, frustrating, and depressing. I wish I could again find joy, purpose, and inspiration.”

The survey

The second assignment is to take a self-assessment survey. It is entirely private, but I will share some of my answers to the questions for the purposes here.

“How important to you is OWNING your work?”

The above question is essential for me. My answer was, “It’s a must. I need to have full control over my work.”.

My answer is not out of fear or because I have a scarcity mindset. I also think the word control might better apply to my life and career and not specifically to the work output. I am OK with shared ownership, but I need to know that the cards are stacked in my favor when it comes to my future.

“How important to you is it to build a company that could eventually be sold?”

My answer, “I want to build a company that I grow with over my lifetime, so selling it isn’t the point.”

For me, this is personal. The future of work is uncertain, and here in South Africa, work is pretty scarce. This fact is top of mind for me, especially because I have children of my own. Now, I am not one to force someone into work they do not enjoy but, here I am lucky. My children share an interest in the work I do and would love to be a part of the business.

“How important is it to you to be well known for your work?”

My answer, “It’s important that people in my industry respect my work but no one needs to know me beyond my niche.”

Here I am pragmatic. While I am more of a behind-the-scenes person, I understand that one must be recognized as an expert in your field when one builds a business. I think in the technology industry, this is especially true.

“How important to you is having the freedom to set your own hours and work from wherever?”

My answer, “Extremely vital! Flex is what makes my life work.”

I doubt that after 2020 I need to go into this much further :) Suffice it to say, this has always been important to me and will continue to be.

“How important to you is being innovative and experimental with your work?”

My answer, “Extremely important! I want to change the way my industry works.”

This answer was the closest to the truth. While it would be great to impact my industry as a whole, for me, this is more about learning and pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

“How important is it to you to NOT have a boss?”

My answer, “I prefer “flat” management with little hierarchy.”

I prefer a sense of shared responsibility and ownership of the work rather than a top-down hierarchical structure that “enforces” accountability through perceived authority.

“How important to you is it to know that your work is part of a social movement and taking on big issues?”

My answer, “Suddenly important — this past year has changed my understanding of the world and I want to reflect that in my work.”

The answer says it all but, I would remove the “suddenly important” piece of the sentence. Being part of improving the world has always been important to me, even in a small way.

“Please rank these issues from highest to lowest, according to which are most often on your mind.”

This one was a little tricky but, here is what I ended up with from the available choices:

  1. Climate change
  2. Health care access
  3. Wealth disparity
  4. Racial injustice
  5. Digital privacy
  6. Political divisiveness

“What scares you most about your personal life going forward?”

Failure of my business causing irreparable damage to our finances and putting strain on my relationships.

“What excites you most about your personal life going forward?”

Freedom. Building a business that all of us want to be a part of and can be proud about.

“What scares you most about your work life going forward?”

Failure and success. It is often harder to imagine what success, instead of failure, might entail.

“What excites you most about your work life going forward?”

Experimenting, learning, trying new ideas, pivoting, and growing as a person.

“What scares you most about your personal life right now?”

Uncertainty and the related massive amounts of stress this causes.

“What satisfies you most about your personal life right now?”

I am grateful to be in a position where I have the support of my family and the means to impact my future positively.

“What do you miss MOST about your pre-Covid life?”

I am grateful to say that Covid did not impact my life as much. However, I miss seeing other people’s faces, and I feel for those whose lives have been directly affected. I would love to see us learn lessons from this and move forward together as a global community.

“What do you miss LEAST about your pre-Covid life?”

Maybe a little harsh but, complacency.

“If money wasn’t an issue, what would you most want to do for the next year?”

Build a business I can be proud of and create opportunities for others in the process.

“If you could hire a personal assistant, what’s the first thing you’d have them do for you?”

The many mundane personal administrative tasks and some of the maintenance tasks in and around the house.

“How much time do you spend thinking about making a change in your work and life?”

It’s on my mind CONSTANTLY.

The remaining questions or personal and probably used by the project to gather some analytics so, there is no real benefit in sharing those here.

That is it for the first post in the series. I hope someone finds this helpful, insightful, or ignites a spark in you to undertake your journey. I would love to hear from you all. How is your life journey been over the last 18 months. What has changed for you?

Stay safe, and take care of each other.

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Schalk Neethling

Schalk Neethling

I write about mental health, addiction, sober living, living your best life through an active lifestyle and a whole food plant-based diet. Psychedelic curios :)