26: Curiosity hours and career paths
September 20, 2023
Here is a nice photo I took from the airplane on the way to Goa last month.
I’ve suddenly got the urge to expand my social circle. I spent a full day during this past long weekend socialising! with a new set of people! It turns out that it’s very energisingto meet someone new and find out you have so much in common. I want to do more of that. So for the entire month of October, I’ve cautiously set up what I call Curiosity Hour: 45 min-slots for casual conversations with new people about anything related to writing, literature, marketing, personal growth, startups, and the future of the internet. It was a toss-up between doing this remotely and in person, but in the end I’ve decided to do virtual chats so geography isn’t a constraint. It might also be a lot less daunting for me, I feel. I really hope I get to meet more cool people and make friends (to whom I can then send random recommendations at ungodly hours). Let’s see how this goes.
A few weeks ago, a colleague asked me how the work I do everyday contributes to my career goals. There was an uncomfortable moment when I realised I don’t really have career goals. That is to say, I am not aimless. I am not un-ambitious (what’s the real opposite of that, anyway?) I do want things out of my career. But I’d be lying if I said there was one Goal to end all Goals that I was calculatedly working towards. Honestly, I’m just clearing the path in front of me a couple steps at a time. I can see some sort of horizon, but it’s too far away for me to define exactly what the hazy dots are. That said, it does feel like I’m fumbling the ball a little, so I’ve started privately writing down down what matters to me about my career.
I finished reading The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak. I really, really enjoyed the atmospheric storytelling. In my Goodreads review, I described the writing as “lying on a tube in a lazy river” — it really does feel like you’re being carried away by a gentle current. The plot is a bit disjointed in places, but I read somewhere that it’s to emulate oral storytelling traditions, which are more episodic in nature. I like that. I haven’t read anything like it. I’ve ordered Forty Rules of Love by the same author (and The Idiot by Elif Batuman, in case the essence of great writing hides in their first name).
After all the experimenting with Notion and Asana and Monday and Things, I’ve returned to bullet journalling on paper to keep track of my day. Yes yes, insert bell curve meme here. After a point it felt like I didn’t know where to look for what I needed to do. So instead, I’ve brought out a notebook and made a simple two-column layout per page: one side for work, the other for personal to-dos. The difference in tactility helped — I already feel a million times more organised and clear-headed.
I am hilariously stuck on my portfolio. It occurred to me recently that almost nothing I have on there reflects what I actually do at work. But my work—especially in my current role—isn’t something you can write case studies about. A lot of it is ambiguous, under wraps, or unseen. As I write this, I’m also thinking maybe a plausible solution is writing shorter, more focused essays about my experience, skills or learning that pulls from multiple projects. This is instead of grouping my progress project-wise, which is pretty much the de facto portfolio IA. I think, as a generalist, it might be helpful for someone else to see how my skills translate across contexts, instead of within a fixed project.
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It has been a whirlwind of a month. There is literally no other word for it. Maybe ‘rollercoaster’.