Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dismantling assumptions

Anytime I begin a project, I start by creating a list of assumptions.
It's something I learned in my Masters program as a way to create context for whatever plan or project you're preparing to launch.

I love a good solid perimeter, and assumptions provide that by defining norms that I can exist within. Lacking those, I lose my confidence, feel unanchored, become a chronic self-doubter and a general nightmare to be around.

I need my assumptions.

Sometimes, they're really helpful, like axioms or postulates.
Here's the tricky bit, when think your assumption is an axiom - or otherwise self-evident and lacking further demonstration - Truth is taken for granted.

If I am entering into something that I expect to get messy, I like to try and set some of these helpful guides - which removes all that tricksy human inconsistency - unless of course, it doesn't.

Then there are the bad assumptions, which is what this post is really about.

I'm looking to redirect my life, career-wise.
And to do that, I have to plow through some serious assumptions. My best friend pointed this out to me this weekend.

We've both limited ourselves through assumption. For me, it's that I let my past define my future.
I think things like, "I will never have a job that pays really well."
I think that mostly because I've never *had* a job that pays really well.

I think that because I only have experience in the arts, that I can only get a job in the arts
(see above about the whole not paying well thing.)

I assume that I cannot live in the markets I want to live in at my current salary, because I assume I will always make my current salary.

I assume that if I work for a corporation, that I will be selling out and lose my soul to corporate machinations.

I assume that the process of finding an appropriate posting outside my experience will be so daunting and awful that I can't bring myself to begin.

Until I did.

Guess what? People need proposal writers.
Lots of people need them.
And internal communications.
And people who can translate data into text and stories.

Guess what I do.


I do loads of that with tight resources and quick turnaround and almost zero support outside of me.

And guess who wants these roles.
People who do awesome things with alternative energies and emerging technologies that I can get behind: Siemens, GE, Philips, and those are just the obvious ones.

Now, these postings, they're in PA and CT and IL and The Netherlands...
I could be in the Netherlands.

How Dutch am I? (Ok, not at all. More Anglo/Austro/Danish/Swiss, but still. I love a tulip.)

Point being - I gotta identify these nasty assumptions and crush them - so I can get on to being someone who isn't expending time and effort on twisting uncomfortably in their steely, suffocating binds.

1 comment:

Chris said...

That's very positive Sarah. I never let the corporations take my soul - but they wanted to, and eventually, we had to part company. I think you'll be OK too. Good luck.

And I think the Netherlands is (are?) a wonderful place. Although my experience is limited and singular to Amsterdam, I was impressed by the people I met and their customs - open minded, accepting, rational. And the cheeses & pastries... mmmm :-)