Like pretty much everyone else, I’ve been obsessing over my career lately.
Since I began freelance writing full-time, I’ve felt the financial insecurity of the arrangement. There’s nothing so motivating (and terrifying) as knowing that to be paid, you have to continually create. Maybe that’s why I began thinking lusty thoughts about becoming an employee again. Because going somewhere every day and putting in your eight hours … that’s got to be less terrifying, right? Plus, writing All The Time can be draining.
Then I talked to Maggie Mistal, who made me realize that the fear was getting me nowhere.
Maggie is one of the country’s top career coaches, frequently quoted in The New York Times, etc., etc. She has a radio show on Martha Stewart Living Radio (on SIRIUS). She’s smart as a whip, but what I love most about her is that she’s also a cabaret singer.
Here’s how it started: After forever advising people to follow their dreams, she realized that she had to follow her own advice and do what she’d always imagined — go on stage. So she kicked off a “Follow Your Dreams” show in NYC. Between songs, she asks people to tell the audience about their own dreams. Why?
“You’re 10 times as likely to achieve a goal if you share it with someone else,” says Maggie. “So I’m layering in a fun, interesting ways to get people to do what they want to do.”
She’s actually coaching. In between cabaret songs.
And if you’re tempted to dismiss Maggie as just another person who is completely not in the realm of ordinary people, who can afford to do something frivolous like sing cabaret in between interviews with The New York Times, consider this: Maggie learned the hard way twice that pinning all your hopes and dreams to an employee can lead to disappointment. She went from working for Arthur Andersen (until it was taken down by the Enron scandal) to working for Martha Stewart (also indicted).
Her advice is to stop focusing on the fear. “Focus on creating and diversifying, because that’s where it gets exciting. Diversification is a way forward,” she says. “You won’t get so caught up in one thing that it distracts you from creating new things.”
Diversification. Marci Alboher calls it having a “slash career” — being able to answer the question “What do you do?” different ways, depending on whether you’re at a cocktail party, a networking event or your high school reunion. Your mom called it not putting all your eggs in one basket.
I know she’s right. But I’m wondering how I’ll ever find the time.