Ambition Intermission – Should I take the Summer Off?

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Anyone else want to take a break and have a banana?

What exactly is ambition intermission? It’s a term I made up; I’ve been running in circles finding a way to express what’s on my mind and haven’t been able to describe it without a wordy explanation.

There are blogs dedicated to figuring out what your goals are, how to achieve them. Self help books on motivation, passion and skills to help you get to where you want to go.  Happiness, ambition and passion are all interrelated into making your dreams and goals come true. I’ve found accomplishing a goal is a moving target. Not in the sense that you’re never satisfied once you accomplish what you set out to do. We naturally set goals based on what we perceive is possible. As we grow along the way, through new perspectives and skills learned, our ambition or goals grow with that new understanding.

Sometimes though, along this journey, you can still have the same ambition and passion, but you end up in what I’m calling ambition intermission. You still have the same broad plan but not sure what the next step is.

Where Is This Uncertainty Coming From?

Right now, I’m experiencing ambition intermission in my job situation. As a consultant, I work on a contract basis. This is typically anywhere from 6 months or longer. For various reasons which I’ve covered in a previous article, contract work suits my lifestyle. I’ve been on a series of contracts in the same organization for a bit now; the work has been challenging and the people are great. I enjoy working there.

A situation has come up where it’s not clear whether my contract will be extended. I’ve consistently received positive feedback so if there is no renewal, it’s related to a gap in  upcoming work. The truth is though, I’ve slowly been thinking about ‘what’s next’. On the one hand, if I’m not renewed, timing would be great as I’ve been itching to take a break and have a summer off. I’ve held back from doing that due to our financial goals. It wouldn’t prevent reaching the goal but it would push out timeline. Which isn’t the end of the world.

What Does This Have To Do With Personal Finance?

I’m sure you already know the answer. You’re thinking: “Income dummy”. And you’re spot on. More specifically though, career/job ambition intermission can have a positive and negative effects on your career. And by proxy, your income.

Career Reflection

Taking some time to step back and reflect on your career, assess where you are, where you’re headed and whether that’s what you want is a good thing. This has many benefits:

  • Ensure where you’re going is still in line with what makes you happy and fulfills your ambition
  • Focuses your limited time is spent learning and upgrading skills that will help you get to where you’re going
  • Benefits the employer as you’re more likely to be passionate and committed in your work. As you’re consciously choosing to be there and growing in your career means the organization can also benefit from your new skills.

Drifting With The Current

You want to be careful that extended reflection doesn’t turn into something permanent, akin to only drifting with the current.  All roads lead to somewhere, and you may find yourself in a land you didn’t want if you don’t navigate.

In your job/career, if you mostly or consistently let it drift by the winds of fate, you may find yourself in a position you’re unhappy with. It’s a little like getting lost on a trail or slowly drifting in a canoe. You’re so busy chilling that you’re much further from shore than you anticipated. This can lead to income and skill stagnation and being unprepared should your job be pulled out from under you. It also takes that much more work and time to get back to shoreline you were aiming for.

Walking The Fine Line Between Drifting and Reflection

It’s a fine line between taking an intermission from your ambition to reflect on what’s next and slide into drifting. I’ve been in both of those situations. As hard as you tell yourself you won’t let yourself drift, it can be tricky to stay out of that. Especially when you’re really not sure what you want.

When in doubt, do nothing.

That is sage advice. Sometimes. If you find yourself struggling with your next steps for more than 3 – 6 months, consider:

  • Objectively look at whether your ambition/goal has changed. Has your passion lessened or run out?
  • Can you identify what is causing you to pause on making a decision? If there is a specific reason(s), focus on that and figure out if you can clear that up. That may pave the way forward.
  • Perhaps there are unknown factors or timing isn’t right. Then you need to make an active plan on clarifying the factors or decision to re-assess in xx months. That’s totally legit and not drifting.

So Where Do I Stand?

My career goals haven’t changed, but I’ve been locked in indecision. I’ve been stalling in setting the direction of the next step and letting circumstances dictate. I’m not sure how I feel about that and thought I’d turn to you savvy readers to hear your thoughts.

  • Job fulfillment: The work has been fulfilling and I truly enjoy who I work with
  • Stress: My job is naturally stressful. There have been prolonged periods of stress and exhaustion; though it’s been better in the last 4 months
  • Summer bunny: Last summer, between the craziness at work and wedding, I didn’t get to immerse myself in summer. I’ve had some vacation since then. Even so, taking 6 – 8 weeks off as a total ambition intermission to clear my head and unwind is very appealing.
  • Partner support: I have my partners support for whatever I decide
  • Financial: Due to conscious spending and living below our means, we’re financially capable of taking a drop in income.
  • Guilt: I would feel guilty delaying progress on our financial goals and likely not meeting this years saving goal if I forced a gap of income.

So, any thoughts?  Or maybe you have stories to share where you’ve taken a time out to re-assess things or been caught in career indecision?

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