Thursdays have, in the recent months, been dedicated to writing about self-improvement. Through improving my space, attitude, workflow, and other areas, I’ve developed the persistence to work on bigger concepts. If any mentality or physicality were hindered by self-doubt, I’d be instead wallowing in negativity. Let’s continue that conceptual evolution by asking the big question: where do I see myself in five years? In a better spot, of course! So what’s the “getting there” plan?
Maintaining my rowing machine has become a fun hobby for me. While I’ve known about some metric and standard/American sizes for a while now, it’s a fun tidbit to know that the seat, shown in the upper part of the picture below, is in metric whereas the rest of the machine is in standard. Concept2 must have outsourced that part of the production. If only we could maintain our bodies as easily as our machines.
3AM, 6AM, doesn’t matter. It’s too early. Gotta get up. Outta bed now. Zombies look better. Get that coffee. Focus on something. Distraction from sleep. Get some food. Still groggy. That drive’ll suck. How’s the weather? It’s cold out. Warm in bed. Still gotta go. Can’t use sick leave right now. Just get going. Gotta dress nicely. Gotta look presentable. “Where’s my purse?” Warm up the car. Now I’m late. Today’s gonna be a grind.
The eleventh draft of a proprietary document I spent weeks writing, locked under a legally-binding non-disclosure agreement, was 3,573 words. The twelfth draft was 3,676 words. Less than 10 people will ever have a need to read, or even skim through, that document. Once this gig’s up, it may reside somewhere for historical purposes, or it may be destroyed. I still took the same pride in placing my name to this document as anything I’ve written here. Why?
I enjoy working the gig life because I get paid to travel, meet people, make friends, and see how people work. I can steal the ideas I like, shed the ideas I dislike, and adapt to more circumstances quicker. If I’m away from “Zeal,” my home office, for long hours on one gig, then I can figure out ways to make the time I do have here more productive, especially as I renovate the space.
I was in athletic shape once. I worked hard for months, rigorously studying fitness, until stopping for years. Careers are similar. You get the degree and perhaps opportunity, until you stop trying. Maybe you don’t get fired, laid off, or underemployed. Maybe it’s just you get disenfranchised. The nice thing about being a contractor, workin’ “the gig life,” is that your career fitness is always in athletic shape. You’re always fit and ready to work.
There’s a gag in New Game!, a cute-girls-doing-cute-things anime about videogame development, where director Shizuku (right) presents whimsically unreasonable change requests to chief programmer Umiko (center). It’s amusing, until you’ve worked enough gigs where customers innocently request major changes even after deadline. Then, you empathize with Umiko. Some adjustments are fine. When seemingly-innocent requests actually require extensive research, dev-time, and rewrites, the customer isn’t always right. Showing these career nuances makes watching New Game! worthwhile.
Season 1: ★★★★☆ [4/5]
Season 2: ★★★☆☆ [3/5]
(Highlight to reveal spoilers: Like this!)
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“I.T., this is Sam.”
“Sam, Tia. Got a weird one, but first, how’s your baby? Healthy?”
“She’s stoked to be over at my parents this week, thanks-”
“Sure. Occasionally seeing this since yesterday. Rebooted. Sent you photo. Says battery life: 6800 hours.”
“Huh. Well, does it hold a charge?”
“Yes, going bad?”
“Probably… I’ll email you the battery model. Expense it, send me the weird one, and let me know if it persists.”
“Sure, appreciated. Bye!”
Our careers permeate into everything we do. When I get invested in my work, I am no longer Anthony or the writer with the nickname Zombiepaper, I am an entity in complete service to my employer. (Oops.) We all sacrifice our humanities for money and security, though. In this first in a 12-day exploration of careers, let’s talk about “the gig life,” and how I retain, or restore, my humanity while working hard and smart.