Over the past 2 years I was getting better and better at my job, but it was becoming less and less satisfying. I thought about looking for a new job, or changing from architecture to construction. The concern with moving to construction is that I wouldn’t get to design at all. Where I was at, I was too good at project management that I wasn’t really going to get to do design the way I wanted. I did some, but not enough to satiate.
Occasionally I would look through job postings but living in Salem and having a car with 193k miles on it made me not want to take a job outside of Salem and I felt a bit trapped. I moved to Salem because this is where I got a job. i have made a lot of friends here but I have always been career focused and in Salem there just aren’t a lot of career based opportunities. If I wanted to settle down and start a family Salem would be a perfect place for that… but I have always prioritized being an architect/designer/maker over having a non-4-legged family. My career is incredibly important to me.
So just after my 35th birthday, in August, I was perusing job postings and I found, what I could only describe, as my dream job: Tiny House Designer. Are you for reals!? This is a thing!?
Turns out, yes, yes it is. With my birthday having just passed, and thinking a lot about how I want to spend the next 30 years of my career and what I want to be doing, it was time for a change. I took the job which was freelance, and then I was offered the lead designer position.
I just completed my first week at my new job. I am exhausted. Even while getting about 7-8 hours of sleep a night, I slept close to 10 hours last night. But, it’s like the most satisfying exhaustion. One of the most satisfying things for me is taking a shower after doing a big hike or long day of physical labor. I love when I feel tired and dirty and I take a shower and can see the dirt washing off, I think to myself “Wow, I have really earned this shower”. That’s how I feel when I get home from work, and now that it’s the weekend. I am working hard but it is so satisfying. I find myself in a state of flow everyday.
I am almost done reading Atomic Habits, by James Clear, and towards the end he talks about the state of flow and the idea that you get there by doing things that are 4% harder than your current skill set. It’s a combination of challenges that push you but also relying on skills you already have. A great balance of mastery/skill and challenge/something new. It’s the best feeling! It also means that hours will pass and then I’ll look up and realize I haven’t stood up in a long time… or I haven’t eaten anything and it’s 2pm. I think that’s why I was extra tired on Monday and Tuesday, not eating enough to keep me fueled for the day!
Along with starting a new job, it also created some lifestyle change opportunities. I now have to commute 40 miles each way to work, which I don’t really mind because I am reading ALL THE AUDIOBOOKS! There’s also only one restaurant walking distance from the office which is forcing me to bring my lunch. I am excited for the opportunity to have fewer excuses and opportunities to go out to eat. This presents a chance to save money on food (which will go to audiobooks I’m sure). If I want something to eat I have to buy it and it’s a lot easier to decide not to buy something what you don’t crave it than it is to not have a soda when they are right there in the office fridge, as they were at my previous job.
All the driving also has me really prioritizing buying a new (to me) car. I test drove a couple cars and I am blown away by the safety features in new cars and with the amount of time I will be spending on the road, I would really feel a lot better having some of those features. Plus, heated seats. Not a safety feature but as winter approaches, with my lack of a garage… it sounds pretty critical to me! Then come summer… I’m pretty sure my AC doesn’t work anymore. Over the last 7 years I never lived more than 1.5 miles from work so this is a big change.
Reading Atomic Habits at the time I’m making a big life change is great because I am being hyper aware of trying to not make accidental habits. I’m not allowing myself to stop for a coffee or hot chocolate on the way to work (in part because the lines are epic-ly long!), and this will prevent it from becoming an auto-pilot move which would happen on my way in to my previous job. The idea of popping in for a latte would pop up in my mind and it was like this part of my mind that made suggestions that I would just do, even if another part of my brain was like “no, don’t do that, money! calories! etc!”
My intention, as I am taking a job to help people who are choosing to live tiny intentional lives, is to make sure that I am approaching my life with intention. Though… it is mint M&M season, but I’m doing the best I can :)