Three weeks ago, I blew off a meeting of a statewide journalism organization that was open to non-members. The event was being held a mile away from my house. But it didn't start until 8 p.m., I had work to finish up, it was snowing, I didn't feel like changing my clothes ... blah, blah, blah. A million reasons not to go, and none of them very good.
A week after that, I missed a book-award ceremony that I didn't even know was happening until four hours beforehand. That's how disconnected I've been. I only found out about it because a friend emailed that afternoon to see if I was going.
The benefits of leaving your bubble while looking for work or exploring new career options extend way beyond networking. Being somewhere different -- exchanging ideas, learning things or just observing -- makes you feel connected and relevant. It gives you hope -- like coming out of mourning and seeing that that the world is still humming along.
I belong to a professional writer's group, which has given me an endless stream of guidance and inspiration for more than a decade. (It's also where I met my editor at AOL Jobs.) The meetings are easy to attend -- we live in the same town -- which makes them easy to skip, too. If I miss a few, I know I can jump right back in. Kind of.
The truth is, when I go a meeting after being absent a couple of months, I feel instantly that I've missed out -- not just on the news of what everyone is doing, but on the energy and excitement that surrounds it. Their projects connect me to a world of possibilities that don't exist within my own four walls.
Making it to a meeting that's five minutes from home really shouldn't be hard to do -- but neither should going to an event or a workshop that's an hour away. Not if they offer you a chance to tap into new energy sources.
Have you stepped out of your bubble lately and found new inspiration?
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