Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Why Spontaneity Pays Off (Sometimes)

I'm a creature of habit. Everyone who knows me knows this. Or, rather, I should say that I'm a creature of planning. I plan everything out -- my days, my clothes, my workouts, my expenses, my travels. Everything gets plotted out and charted down to the decimal point!

In general, I hate jumping into a situation completely blind. I need to have all my options choreographed first, with chances of failure appropriately weighed, and with plenty of back up plans or failsafes in place in case failure does occur. Only then do I act.

Yes, I'm serious. I do this for everything, and especially when important decisions need to be made.

But lately I've been thinking about the few times in life I have made important decisions out of spontaneity -- that is, without having my course pre-routed for me or any measurable back up plans to cover a failure.

One such time was my first job out of college. I hated that job. I had been at it for 19 months and really wanted to quit. Me being me, however, I couldn't do so until I first had another job lined up to land at when I jumped ship. It was tough being able to go on interviews and still do my day job, but I managed it. For months I went on several interviews in the publishing industry here in New York, but to no avail. I had no leads.

Then one day my difficult manager was being difficult as per usual. She pushed my buttons one too many times on this day, however, and I decided right then and there that I was done! I went to her boss and presented my resignation. I announced I would give them two weeks to find my replacement, but that I was out after that. When asked if I had another job lined up, I replied that I did not. The director seemed taken aback by this, and assured me that I could take all the time I needed to find a new place of employment before I left.

I resolutely held my ground and replied that, whether I found another job or not within that two weeks, I would still be leaving at the end of it. It was just a feeling I had deep in my core, that this was the right step to take and -- more importantly -- that things would somehow all work out if I give in to fate.

So I left the company after 2 weeks with nothing new lined up. I then spent the next 2 weeks afterward interviewing at various places. And just like that, I found myself starting a new job at a new company on the 3rd week. This place was better structured than the last, my reporting manager was the nicest person I had ever interviewed with, and best of all -- I was getting paid a LOT more!

I remember thinking to myself: Wow! Had you not gone for it and quit, you might never have had the free time to even go on this interview, let alone land the position!

It was a lesson that taught me not everything needs to be *safe* before you make a life change. Sometimes you just need to read the situation and understand that it's time to move on. You need to act when you feel that it's time to act.

Yeah, lately I've been feeling this again. Not just at work, but in my personal life as well. It's starting to feel like as if it's time to move on. Which scares the hell out of me, because I have no alternatives lined up. I do want to switch to another job opportunity, though. I just don't know exactly what to do right now. Do I simply look for a change of scenery within the same field? Or do I reinvent myself entirely and try for a field that is totally different from what I do now, but which would make me happier? Something involving photography, perhaps? Or freelance writing, maybe? Because I'm starting to feel the boredom of my current job.

Then, too, I'm wondering: Should I leave New York City? Where would I move? I would love to move back to Vermont where I went to college, but I would imagine my chances of finding work there would not be as favorable as they would be in another big city. Or should I move to Texas where my current company has its headquarters in the Dallas area? My brother lives in Houston -- should I move there, perhaps?

Honestly, sometimes I wish I could just take that blind leap of faith and simply GO! Leave everything behind in my current life and completely change my situation.

Who knows?

But on a much less serious, yet oddly connected note .... just recently an acquaintance of mine from years ago contacted me out of the blue. I hadn't heard from her since then, but she had been an aspiring actress and model at the same time that I had begun exploring photography. We had helped each other out back then: I taking her headshots, and she ... well, posing for 'em! Fast forward to earlier this year, and this same woman texted me wanting to know if we could meet up again and do another photoshoot. I told her "sure, of course!", although truth be told I wasn't feeling all that confident in my abilities to take good photos of anyone. I didn't want her to think of me as a *real* photographer, you see? Too much pressure on me! Because then her expectations would be so high, and the end result would not live up to the imagination.

Still, she had loved my headshots of her, and I did explain that photography is just my hobby and not my actual living. Trying to downsize her expectations, you know?

But then months went by, and I realized I just didn't want to put myself out there like that. To set up a meet with this woman, go over how I wanted to shoot her, and then execute the shoot.

Then one night a couple of weeks ago, out of nowhere, I sat up on my couch while watching tv and said: Hey, why not do it tomorrow?!

It was a crazy idea and totally spontaneous and on such short notice ... but I reached out to her and asked her if she would be willing to do the shoot within the next few days. She told me she was free in the morning if I wanted to shoot something quick; otherwise, it would have to wait until she got back from a trip out of town 10 days later.

I leapt at that and said: bet! So we set up a quick street shoot outside her building the following morning. Basically, in less than 12 hours from the time we texted until the time we saw each other face to face. Hey, that can be a lifetime in this city!

Anyway, I'm happy to say the shoot went very well. Far better than even my best expectations. It was a quick affair, and we made a quick decision on what she should wear. Something casual for sure since it was stifling hot and humid this July morning in New York City. At first she wanted to wear a summery dress, but then thought she'd rather wear something she would normally wear and feel more comfortable in. I dubbed it her "Boho chic" look!

And so, for an hour that morning while the light was still soft and dappled, I shot her on the front steps to her apartment building. These were just a few of the photos I made:

As I said, this ended up being a really great shoot for me. And best of all, my client loved her photos! She squealed with delight and high-fived and hugged me upon seeing them on the viewscreen. It was a great feeling.

And I was very happy for taking the chance, completely out of my comfort zone, and simply DOING IT rather than pre-planning and second guessing and talking myself out of it. Coming as it did while I'm in the midst of this current existential funk, I have to say it gave me a lot of food for thought concerning the direction to take my life next.

Maybe I really should just go out there and take the plunge. Make a change, and to hell with the possible risks. Maybe life is all about risks, no? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Hmmmm .... I wonder about that, though.

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