Thinking about the future, thinking about the past

I’ve been thinking about the future this last week, and thinking about the past.

This year has been very good in terms of my career, but pretty much none of my career advancements were planned in the slightest. I wasn’t expecting an old boss to invite me to come work for his new company, and I certainly wasn’t expecting an even bigger company to offer to hire us both.

In a way, my entire career in this field was similarly unplanned. How could I have possibly planned the unlikely sequence of events that lead me to it? Or how could I have even planned that this career field would even exist, when it really didn’t 10 years ago? What happened is that someone thought I could do something I’d never done before, and the next thing I knew, I was in over my head and there wasn’t anything else to do but figure out how to do whatever that thing was. First it was building websites, then it was SEO and copywriting, and then it was social media and analytics and a bunch of other nerdy things you probably don’t care about in the least.

And yet, a good friend of mine tells me often that she admires the way I got to this place in my life by setting clear goals and working towards them. Which is not entirely inaccurate, either. Over the past ten years, I’ve seen interesting opportunities and pursued them. The pursuit just seems to never take nearly as long as I think it will. Whenever anyone said “Hey, do you think you could do this thing I need done?” I pretty much always just said “Sure. Why not?” and gave it my best shot.

Each opportunity, once attained, opened up new interesting opportunities. Mostly, I just keep following my own curiosity forward, wiggling into new openings as I see them. But it’s not like I had some long-range 5 or 10 year plan in 2002 that lead to where I am. In fact, the few times I’ve made 5 or 10 year plans, circumstances blew them to pieces at ludicrous speed.

So it’s probably not surprising that I started 2012 with one set of goals for my career, and ended it with a lot of achievements, and neither had much of anything to do with the other. I set out to playfully explore writing and the publishing scene. I expected to start submitting queries at some point, but I didn’t expect to get accepted on my very first one in February. So I sort of slingshot past my goal, but that’s pretty much par for the course for me.

I try, really I do, to take things slowly and gradually. I try to practice and experiment on things. But invariably, something happens that turns me into the Sorceror’s Apprentice and I’m suddenly in over my head and forced to see how fast I can get good at something before there are dire consequences associated with my incompetence. I would love to learn something, anything, some other way than trial by fire. Maybe someday I’ll get the chance.

So now it’s nearly 2013 and part of me is thinking “I should probably make some plans or goals or something” and part of me is just laughing hysterically at that entire idea. What about you? Got big plans for 2013? Was 2012 what you expected? Got something to share, drop it in the comments.

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