The End of a Thing

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Why is starting so much more fun than finishing?

If I’m brutally honest with myself, I can look around my house and identify unfinished things – projects, organizational systems, art, video games, books.

It’s not always so; I do enjoy the thrill of checking off a task once it’s done.  Seeing well-laid plans (or just “plans”) come to fruition certainly provides an emotional boost.

The Preacher tells us that the end of a thing is better than its beginning (Eccl. 7:8). But I find that my energy is highest at the start, when ideas are fresh and shiny and new.

I even enjoy the job of working out how to move from idea to reality, at least in the big picture. And when I was in the classroom, I usually ran the whole process from idea to plan to implementation to assessment and feedback.

But there’s nothing quite like the new car smell of a freshly minted idea.* The longer it goes, the more I have to grit my teeth, dig in, and get ‘er done.

*Yes, I realize I mixed car production and coin production metaphors there. You can deal.

I have yet to work in a job where I could devise plans and then hand them off to someone else to implement. I hear that there are organizations like this, where resources and personnel converge thus. 🙂  I guess education tends not to be resource-rich. More accurately, I’m a sucker for a good mission rather than a job flush with cash, so I find myself solving the problems that come within scarcity rather than pursuing positions with resources.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past couple years asking myself questions about how I work, how I want to work, where I want to work, and whether “work” should take up as much room in my future planning as it does.  I don’t have all the answers to those questions, but I’ve learned a few things so far:

  • I like to generate ideas, clarify them, and do that in collaboration with other people who also like ideas.
  • Planning is fun when I don’t have to worry about carrying out those plans myself. If I’m the primary implementer, I tend to plan with a lot less verve, because I don’t draw as much energy from work parts of implementing plans. 🙂
  • Solitary work pleases me when there are tasks demanding mental focus. Or when I need some peace and quiet and “me time.”  Otherwise, working near others, and preferably with others, wins every time.  I don’t want to be stuck in a cubicle or office, ever. If I have to execute an idea, I’ll like it 1,000x more if I’m working alongside someone else.
  • Apparently I’m built to be an educator. Can’t really think about much else. Not for long. lol
  • I’d rather be a guru than a manager. 

The big question I’m trying to answer, unsuccessfully so far, is what the next 10 years of work should look like. Regardless of what other life events crowd into that mix, I’d like to have a goal.

“By 2025, I will be ________ing in pursuit of __________[result].” 

What’s supposed to go in those blanks?  

Some ideas so far:

  • Teaching high school students to enable them to live lives of flourishing, because I genuinely like adolescents and helping them grow into the cool people they are
  • Mentoring younger teachers to help them be better at their craft
  • Investigating the nexus of two fields, like Design Thinking and some sub-field of education – applying one to the other in hopes of ….what?  Not sure. Better pedagogy? Better training for teachers? Information added to the field?
  • Working outside the classroom but within higher ed to develop [area] like vocational guidance or improving pedagogy in the undergrad classroom or innovation within higher ed structures
  • Collaborating with people across disciplines to write better curriculum for [area]

You know, I didn’t expect to be wrestling with big questions of vocation and calling at this age. lol

And really, no one says I can’t have more than one set of answers in those blanks. But as years pass by, it’s harder and harder to stay nimble (vocationally), to have access to resources to start and stop or to design a career from ground-up.

Or maybe that’s a myth. Maybe this is when I’ve finally gotten out of training and am about to hit the starting blocks.

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