For some reason, the fall seems to match the most with the inflection points in my life where I’ve made notable changes. This fall is no different, as today is the last day of a contract position that I started just before the COVID lockdown. The 18 month gig was wonderful – sometimes a bit “hard mode” due to the constraints that large companies put on contractors. I went into it with a couple of goals, and I’m finishing it out feeling like I very much achieved (or made huge progress against) those goals.
“What’s next?” is a common question; from others to me, and within my own brain. For a long time, I absorbed a tremendous amount of my self-identity from what I did. Or more specifically, from the communities that I was a part of – large influences including groups of coworkers – but also external groups. I’m fairly addicted to solving problems and puzzles, so I have a hard time stepping back to understand “what I want to do” in a way that’s not heavily influenced by the group or groups that I’m currently or recently involved with. In practical terms, this hits me as “I’ve been working in and around this problem space for the last X months, so all the interesting puzzles that immediately come to mind tend to be related to that problem space.
Now that I’m wrapping up my contract gig, I’m taking some time off – away from all my home influences – to try and let my inner-self simmer down. While I give myself time to wind down, I’m making lists of things that “sound interesting”. Getting it out of my head into writing often lets me put it aside mentally. I learned long ago I’d obsess until I wrote it down – so I make lists and notes to free myself. I’m also reviewing my journals from the time period when I last had a break. I’m hoping that refreshing my thoughts will help ease things back out such that my own voice rides to the top. There were also some things I set aside when I took the contract that I may want to revisit and consider. I have the luxury of taking some time to figure out what’s next, so I’m trying to take it.