“So Many Ideas, Not Enough Time: Will I Ever Actually Make The Change?”

Rich is stuck. He's got plenty of ideas for his new career path, but, with a family and a full-time job to manage, he's struggling to make any progress. When you don't have the time to make more money, and you don't have the money to take more time, how do you get started?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm a Play Ranger.

I work for a local authority, managing a small team to deliver play sessions in schools, children's centres and outdoor spaces for children aged 0-13 years.

I also do one-to-one work with children who have various social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

I've been working in play for nearly ten years. I've also got a strong background in drama and performance, having completed a degree in Performance, a postgraduate diploma in Theatre and Performance Practice, and worked in a number of children's drama settings.

How do you feel about your work?

I enjoy aspects of it.

I like working with children and young people. The things they come up with and the way they experience the world is fun and refreshing (and often makes me laugh).

I like the variety in what I do. The work often taps in to my ability to be imaginative and creative. I often have to think on my feet, come up with stories at a moment's notice, figure out how to encourage even the shyest, most withdrawn children into play.

I often find the work rewarding too. There's nothing better than seeing how I've been able to help build a child's self-esteem.

But the fact is, there's a time limit on how long I can do this job for. It's a young man's job – very physical.

And I get frustrated with the admin side of it all, and with the usual office politics that comes into so many people's jobs. There are huge parts of the job that are draining and dull.

But, most of all, I'm not reaching my potential here. There's so much more I want to do. I'm ambitious and I want to be in charge of my own destiny. I don't want to just 'work for the man' my whole life.

I'm so ready to move on. I need to build something of my own.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I need to do something creative.

It's in my bones. Aside from my family, being creative is where all my satisfaction and fulfilment comes from in life.

I've got lots of creative projects on the go and I'm always brimming with ideas.

For the last ten years I've been part of a video game design team in my spare time, building a realistic military game that's well thought of by serious gamers. I'm a pretty serious gamer myself, but I've scaled it down recently as I got eye strain from too much design stuff.

So, more recently I've turned my attention towards board game design. I like intricate, strategic board games, not the more basic, Monopoly-level kind of games. I've got some really promising ideas and I'm on a huge learning curve finding out about the industry and how board games are developed. I've got loads of experience with games and play – I just keep getting drawn towards it.

I also write. I'm about halfway through a children's fantasy novel. Storytelling has always been a big part of my play work. I even train others in how to do it well. I've got lots of other stories in development too, but nothing's quite finished yet. I'm a member of a local AmDram group and have written a couple of short plays for the group which have been performed and received well too.

I'd be happy working on my own, but I would also enjoy working with and bouncing ideas around with like-minded people in some sort of positive, collaborative, creative environment. I've wondered whether a board games company could be a good fit. But I've no idea how I'd even go about getting into one.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I've got a huge time / money Catch-22.

I've got so many ideas and I'm giving them everything I've got. But time is limited.

And I don't know how to make this work pay.

I'm a new dad and I've had to reframe my idea of 'free time'. My wife is supportive of my plans and tries to help ring-fence time for me to write and create. But it isn't enough. And until I either have more time to make something profitable (difficult enough in itself), or money to buy myself more time to spend doing it (i.e. reducing my hours in the day job), I can't get anywhere with moving my shift forward.

However, reducing hours or taking a career break isn't an option. We've got bills to pay and a little one to support.

So, I keep plugging away at it on my own, writing and designing when I can and feeling disheartened that there's no prospect of anything changing anytime soon.

I don't want to be a forty-year-old play ranger. I feel so frustrated. I need to create. I'm good at it, and I've got so much to offer.

How can I make my shift happen when I'm giving it all the time I've got, and I'm still not getting anywhere?

Can you help Rich?

  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Rich could move his shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone in the creative world he could talk to?

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