Simplifying My Career — And My Life

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post called The Dark Side of Diversifying, about how over-diversifying your career can make you feel scattered and at loose ends. As I mentioned, I work on a TON of projects: I write for magazines and corporate clients, write and market books, teach e-courses, do phone mentoring, run the Renegade Writer blog and classes, and write adoption profiles for adoptive families. And that’s just the work side of things; I also run a local moms’ group with over 100 members and am the founder of Creative Professionals for Animal Welfare, which has about 250 volunteers.

So I decided to simplify.

Due to some business reasons I won’t get into here, it was about to become much harder for me to run the Renegade Writer e-courses. In addition, updating the e-course page, promoting the classes, and collecting money add to my already full plate a bunch of administrative and marketing tasks that I had to accomplish for each instructor and each session. It was a difficult decision, but I made the choice to stop running classes other than my own. All of the instructors were very understanding (thank you!). (And don’t worry, the instructors are still teaching their classes — just not through the Renegade Writer. Go here for info on how to contact the instructors about their next sessions.)

Then, this week, I had a great session with my life coach Kristin Taliaferro. I told her that I didn’t feel like I “had it all together” lately. I was scattered and anxious, and felt pulled in a dozen directions at once. Kristin asked me what I would like to get rid of.

I had been thinking lately that I should give up Creative Professionals for Animal Welfare; I just don’t have the passion for it that I had before our son was born 19 months ago. I was doing the bare minimum to keep the service going, and wasn’t making the effort to build the volunteer list and reach out to animal welfare organizations that could use our services. It was hard on the ego, but I decided to find someone who would like to take over the reins and really make the service great.

Then there was the moms’ group I run. Like creativePAW, the meetup group doesn’t take a lot of time, but it’s just another thing bouncing around my brain. I have some members who are much more active than I am in terms of hosting meetups, attending meetups, coming up with ideas for new gatherings, and participating in the discussion board. I decided that I would remain a member but step down as organizer. It was worth running the group for the last year and a half — I made a lot of friends with kids Traver’s age — but I would be much happier if someone else were making the decisions. It looks like I have someone I really like interested in taking over, which I’m excited about.

So how do I feel after all that simplifying? Much lighter, though I’m still looking for someone to take over creativePAW, and then there will be all the tasks associated with the transfer. But once it’s all done, I expect that I’ll feel more together and less scattered. When you have a million tasks and they’re all of roughly equal urgency and importance, whittling down your list of to-dos makes deciding which task to tackle much easier.

Now I’m on a roll and am looking for even more tasks and projects to eliminate. It’s difficult because my ego is all tied up in certain projects! But I’m motivated to keep going.

How about you — have you taken any big steps lately to simplify your career or your life? Or does reading this post inspire you to make the leap? [lf]

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8 comments… add one
  • Linda:

    Indeed it does inspire me.

    Please consider this. I have been doing a lot of writing for local online community publications lately, and getting an assignment and finishing it has me excited. It reminds me of the days when, after my heart attack, I started my freelance writing career writing for local community newspapers. I absolutely loved it!

    As I work on the above assignments — writing in my niche especially — in the back of my mind is “Wait a minute, you haven’t done this the past two weeks,” and it gets me to thinkni bg that may, just maybe, I shouldn’t be doing it in the first place, or even plan to do it.

    A good writer is an orgnaized one, correct? And part of that organization is clearing the clutter.

    I have some heavy thinking and planning to do.


  • I hear you. I wear too many hats, too. I’m streamlining some of my work, put one project on hold, and am expanding the areas that I really like. It’s a process. An always changing process.

    Thanks for posting about this. I think a lot of people will find your perspective beneficial.

  • Such a fantastic idea & I’m glad that you have taken the initiative to make your personal & professional life a bit more sane. 🙂

  • Star

    I don’t know how you did all this in 2 days a week anyhow! Something had to give.

  • Thanks for your comments! @Steve, I think it’s actually imperative for your career that you unclutter every once in awhile. You can’t do your best work when you’re thinking about the 100 random tasks on your to-do list!

  • Hanna

    Thanks Linda, this was a helpful post. I’ve been feeling the same things and now I’m wondering about what I want to get rid of.

  • I think *relief* is one of our bodies/minds biggest signals that we’ve made the right decision by eliminating something. It sounds like you’re doing a great job in making your life and work more streamlined!

  • Linda:

    Someone else once said that “you can’t be everything to everybody” with regard to the writing you’ll do.

    This obviously applies to all aspects of life.


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