If you’re like me, you’re probably doing too much. You’ve been saying “yes” to all kinds of projects and now you’re loaded with commitments. Some of these projects might be advancing your pursuit of a more meaningful career, but others are just interesting opportunities. You’re “diversifying yourself” and “creating serendipity.” I tell myself this type of thing all the time. The problem is that when you’re driving toward a big goal (like finding a job or launching a company), side projects can quickly turn into betting against yourself.
When I launched Mission Driven six months ago, I took on a couple short-term contracts. These were meant to support me financially while I got Mission Driven off the ground. A means to an end. But I started building a reputation for the work that I was doing on the side and these short-term contracts turned into longer-term commitments. Last month, I spent more time on contract work than Mission Driven.
It’s not that I would rather work on these contracts. They’re just safer and easier to execute on. I began to see a viable career alternative to running a company just in case Mission Driven doesn’t work out. And, without even realizing it, my short-term contracts turned into bets against myself. And the more I bet against myself, the more likely Mission Driven was to fail.
I see people betting against themselves in the same way when pursuing more meaningful careers in social enterprise. They explore exciting opportunities while also maintaining a set of safe alternatives. Sometimes you have bills to pay and have to go for the easier money. I totally get that. But, don’t let these necessities hijack your goals. It is safer to diversify what you do. But careers, businesses, and life is not about doing what’s safe. It’s about finding what lights you up and then pouring yourself into that thing.