Momentum and caution

Momentum is a concept we’re all familiar with in the context of science, but it has some important personal and professional applications as well.

I’m a creature of habit. Reflecting on the past few years of my life, it’s easy to see how the decisions I make impact what I’m likely to be doing in 6, 12, and 24 months down the line.

This is neither good nor bad, but it’s an important observation.

In order to balance out this trait, I have committed to periodic change and calculated risk. This is most evident when you look at my last three mailing addresses (two different states, two different countries). Getting out of my comfort zone and routine helps keep me sharp.

Many of us spend the best years of our lives making other people rich. That’s the reality of the working world. And while many make up from the madness and disengage from the Matrix through freelancing and entrepreneurship and passion projects, it’s common to see people actually creating jobs (that feel like coffins) for themselves instead of the freedom businesses that they once envisioned.

As I caution many aspiring job-quitters, quitting is the easy part. Perhaps not emotionally (that’s the hardest part), but certainly in execution.

But then what?

Instead of working with management to help turn an unfulfilling role into an important and valuable one, some jump ship without a second thought. When you’re young and single and smart and ambitious and have 6 months of savings in the bank, you can “afford” to do things like that. I’m all for sticking it to the man. Really.

But in my 29 months of being in the real world, I’ve seen enough to understand the importance of planning, timing, and strategy. This doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to taking flight, of course. As a matter of fact, a measured approach sometimes entails making even riskier moves (with outsized rewards).

But I’m very careful about the story I tell and the flames I fan with my story. Doing what matters is important, but so is rent. And finding an excuse to buy the next iPhone.

Maybe I’m getting old.

Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.