#workresolutions: Make your own projects

#workresolutions: Make your own projects

YNPN member Alexa Riner tells us about her #workresolution for 2014.

This year I've decided to jump off into the deep end. The economy is sluggish at best and has been for years now, and I’m getting discouraged looking for the right job doing the kind of work I want to be doing. I have ten years of project management skills that aren’t getting utilized. It’s time for me to make it happen.

This is my New Year’s resolution for 2014: I am going to go out and create interesting work for myself rather than wait for it to come to me.

I'm embarking on a research project to examine my local community infrastructure and locate leverage points to improve the ways we construct where we live, learn, work, and play. I’m interested in the rules we make and how these rules are enforced. In my past architectural work, I’ve seen some poorly-incentivized practices. I’d like to have a hand in improving those practices and making them more accessible to a wider set of community members.

Not only do I have a goal, I’m designing a system to help me reach it. I’ve already written up my process outline and I'm setting up ticklers in my calendar for each step. I’m going to look up statistics, headlines, and trends in community infrastructure.

Then I’m going to conduct informational interviews with a variety of people involved in different sectors of construction, from owners to builders to regulators. Then I will have some sense of what my community wants or needs and how we might go about getting it.

What’s nice about this idea is that it makes networking a breeze. Instead of going around to people asking them how I can get a job, I’ll be going around asking them about what they do and how they are impacted and what their needs are. It gives my networking endeavors a context. I have a deeper reason for talking to them, and I’ll be genuinely interested in what they have to say instead of distracted by my own financial situation. I believe this reframe is important.

It is so easy to get stuck thinking I need someone else to agree to pay me before I can do what I want to be doing. In 2014, I’m turning that whole problem on its head.

UntitledAlexa Riner is an architectural designer, organization development consultant, and co-founder of the infrapreneurial consulting firm Roots to Success: Whole System Consulting, which works to build strong community organizations and partnerships in Northern California. You can find Alexa on Twitter at @rokuloquat.

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