Getting Your Head Right

I remember when my father, fresh off of some new training and then reconfirmed in team management training of my own, told me the Three Requirements for Change. They rang true enough in my own life and observations that I put them in my first book:

  • 1. The need for change must be recognized. (I.e. “I can’t keep going on like this. Something has to change.”)
  • 2. The nature of that change must be known. (“I need to ____”)
  • 3. The idea of changing must be less terrifying than the consequences of not changing. (“Changing will be hard, but it’s gotta be better than if I keep going like I am.”)

I find myself in a position once again where change is needed. The third requirement is usually the toughest one to establish for change- people will often accept familiar misery over the unknown chance for happiness. In my case, however, it’s the second requirement that’s tripping me up. Where to from here?

Many Projects Make Light Effort

I’m one of those people that always has “a project in the works.” Lots of irons in the fire, as the saying goes. The problem with having a lot of projects is that, unless at least some of them are directly related to your meal ticket, a lot of them get neglected or worked on in turn.

“Hey Matt, how’s the third book coming? And the recipe book? And the videos? And the latest blanket and scarf you are knitting? And….”

The need to prioritize is real. The need to put things on the back burner and focus down is real. The need to play favorites and decide which your myriad projects is worth your intensely limited time and energy is very real.

There is lots of well-intended advice that includes “following your passion,” “do what you love,” and “be what your world needs.” ALL of it is easier said than done, and a solid chunk of it involves knowing yourself well enough to decide what will make you happiest.

This is not a one-and-done affair. It takes a lot of personal integrity, honesty, and repeated checking in that I have felt comfortable enough not to necessarily do in a while.

No time like the present though. What follows is very much a transcription of me talking myself through the problem. Ideally, it’ll provide a framework. At worst, it will at least show other 30-somethings wondering “what they’re gonna do when they grow up” that they are not alone.

Path #1- Baker for Hire

My future career could absolutely consist of wandering around the industry as a baking mercenary, accruing skills and knowledge and selling my services to the highest bidder.

What I’d lose in the ability to build something for myself (the lion’s share of my labor would naturally go to enriching others,) I’d gain the comparative comfort of being able to leave a situation whoever it suited me with reduced risk. Markets (including job markets) go up and down, and my increasing skills and experience would allow me to command a higher rate of pay (assuming people could afford to pay it- another risk to be weighed in.)

My personal goal of being “Matt the Baker” may come true, but it would be based upon me finding a job I could stay in for a good long time- or personal fans following me from business to business. Such a situation is neither impossible nor ideal.

Path #2- Go My Own Way

In a lot of ways, being an entrepreneur is the path of greatest risk- and also greatest freedom.

Starting my own pie shop would require a considerable amount of money up front- the kind I couldn’t get in a reasonable amount of time without loans, investors, or a VERY popular GoFundMe. Getting it started and running smoothly would require- at least in the beginning- putting every other hobby or project to the side.

If it succeeded or failed would be entirely my responsibility, making it simultaneously a better and worse risk. Given my latest experiences in working by myself, it’s questionable about how long I’d even be able to tolerate doing everything to keep the place running on my own.

If it worked out though? It’d be my fastest line to being “Matt the Baker.” I’d have complete control for better or worse, answerable only to my investors and my conscience. If it lasted, I’d have a legacy to pass on to my apprentices, children, or whoever.

Path #3- #drinkerwithawritingproblem

Despite my best efforts, I know that my body won’t let me keep going in a kitchen forever. I will eventually get older, slow down, need to sit down more, and take more care of my constitution. I will also, of course, eventually die. I’ve already decided and known about myself that, no matter what, I want to devote my life to food- to talking and writing about it if not directly making it. If that’s true, then why not lean in now? Why not walk away from the kitchen and become a full-time food writer.

That would essentially call for a complete career reset. I’m very proud of my books and this blog, but as far as any publisher or publication would be concerned I’m an absolute novice. At the very luckiest I would go the Anthony Bourdain route and get an article published in a magazine, resulting in a book deal and career down the line.

If everything worked out as well as I hoped, I’d be paid to travel, talk to people, and write wherever I was. Absolute freedom as long as I could keep writing well enough to bring people in. To get started, I’d need to invest time and energy- and there’s no guarantee it’d shake out. As Bourdain himself said, “Luck is not a business plan.”

The Bottom Line

Where to from here? Where I want to go.

Where’s that? Wherever will make me happiest and get me closer to my goals?

What are they? Umm…

I’m stable enough that I can take my time to think, but sitting and overthinking forever leads to nothing getting done. It leads to accepting the unacceptable simply because it’s familiar. Not what I’m about at all.

They stakes are high enough that I need to either make a very calculated choice or womp up the equanimity to say “screw it” and do anything, confident I’ll still be alive at the end.

If you don’t care where you wind up, it doesn’t matter where you go- so long as you just keep going.

Stay Classy,

The BHB's Top Hat Logo Signature

2 thoughts on “Getting Your Head Right

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s