“Do you want to be a CCO someday? What is your end goal professionally?” …an earnest question that a client’s intern asked me a few days ago.
My response to her was a slightly less eloquent, but honest nonetheless, version of this:
This is probably not the answer you’re looking for… but my end goal isn’t a job title. It’s not even a specific salary, so long as I can afford to survive in whatever city I live in and take a nice vacation occasionally.
When I was a teen, I knew I was going to attend my hometown’s University of Washington, major in English and become a writer who teaches on the side (mind you it was that combination, not vice-versa). But I ended up going to film school in southern California for undergrad. While in film school, I decided I wanted to either become a war photojournalist or National Geographic photojournalist. But here I am now — art directing in the marketing/advertising industry for digital and social platforms.
I went from wanting to visually express my own truths… to wanting to visually document the truths of the world… to actually making branded content intended to drive awareness and sales of products/services that no human truly needs for personal fulfillment and happiness. So whatever professional goals I’ve ever set for myself in my past, life has consistently had other plans for me, challenged me to adapt to new processes (and cities), pushed me to compromise (or sometimes hide) specific values, and jolted me into reflecting on my own philosophies and approach to work and life.
So instead of fixating on something years from now that I can’t be sure I’d still even want once I get there, I’m focusing on optimizing my time, energy, activity in the present and short-term — especially during this freelance phase…
My daily objective: Create something, whether or not someone is paying me for it. And if for whatever reason, I can’t create something today, then learn something new or meet someone new and have a deeper-than-pleasantries-and-small-talk conversation with that person.
My weekly objective: Write 3–5 pages more (to a long-from, longer-term project I’m slowly developing).
Basically it’s my stagnation-prevention commitment. My (maybe blind) belief is that by sticking to this, I will get to whatever the right end goal is for me.
How do you approach your career? Far-sightedly or near-sightedly? I’m genuinely intrigued by different philosophies around this topic.