The next step: What I don't want

Wrong Way Signs

The more I check online job boards, the more I am convinced that freelancing is the next step for me.

I don’t browse job websites very often—it is a spur-of-the-moment, infrequent occurrence as opposed to a dedicated, daily hunt that can become a job in itself—but when I do, I almost always end up disappointed, thinking, “None of these jobs appeal to me.” Sure, there are jobs I am likely qualified for and could probably do, but rarely do I find something that piques my interest, that makes me want to apply. Intriguing posts almost always turn out to be uninviting after further investigation—digging through the job description and (usually idealistic) qualifications.

Though I’m still unsure what I want to do next, there are many things I know I don’t want to do. That got me thinking: Perhaps I have been going about this next step business the wrong way. Instead of racking my brain to figure out what I want in my next step, hoping for an epiphany of some kind, maybe it’s better to first narrow the field by figuring out what I don’t want.

That sounds like a good idea so I’m going to give it a try. It should be relatively easy.

Right off the bat, here are a couple things I know I don’t want:

• I don’t want to become rich or famous.

• I don’t want to waste time commuting long distances in my car.

• I don’t want to work hard only to enrich a small number of suits and investors.

• I don’t want a dress code.

• I don’t want to work in a cubicle or windowless room.

• I don’t want to have to deal with petty office politics.

Having worked remotely from home for the last seven years—by myself, wearing a t-shirt and basketball shorts, with no ironclad schedule (though I do maintain a regular work schedule for the sake of simplicity), for understanding and caring bosses—has made me insanely spoiled. One reason why I am so reluctant to move on from my current situation is because I fear that whatever I do next will inevitably be worse.


• I don’t want to move.

Many of the editing and writing openings I see are located in New York, Chicago, and Boston, especially those in academic settings. However, moving to those places does not appeal to me. When I moved to California in 2006, I wanted to leave Iowa City, wanted to get out of the only place I could remember living. Now, I want to stay in Iowa City. I like it here and don’t feel like uprooting myself for a job. Iowa City is home and is a part of who I am. I have family here, friends here, pets here. I’m slowly but surely becoming more involved in the community to keep it a great place. (Slowly but surely is apparently my MO for everything.) I have Iowa men’s basketball season tickets. I don’t want to give up all that—especially my basketball tickets!

I would consider moving elsewhere in Iowa, and the Twin Cities has always intrigued me. I’m open-minded and could possibly be convinced to relocate, but in general I don’t want to move. (I get the feeling I just contradicted myself. I don’t want to move . . . but I’m open-minded and could be swayed.)

• If I write, I don’t want to be inundated by assignments or pressured by quotas.

Writing will likely be one component of my next step, but I want to do it on my own terms and at my own pace.

• I don’t want a job that monopolizes my life.

I like having weekends off. I like having a regular, sane work schedule so there is a set, eight-hour period where I am working each workday. I like having free time.

That is all I can think of right now. I’m sure more will come to mind and I will try to add them here so they are in one place.

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