Thursday, April 06, 2017

A Certain Degree of Specialization

I realized this weekend that my areas of generalization are starting to contract a bit.

Part of it is really just simply the factors of time and money.  I find that my time, although differently distributed since I changed jobs, has not experienced a net increase in terms of availability.  As a result, when to do certain activities has become a bit circumscribed (after all, throwing heavy things above your head after dark is not a recommended activity).

Money.  Suffice it to say with the continued increase in taxes and upcoming college phase (we could have college expenses for the next 10+ years), budgeting matters more than ever.  And thus, the likelihood that a new activity will be "invested in" at some level based on a passing interest becomes less and less.

But there is another factor that I am coming to appreciate:  the power of expertise and specialization.

Being a beginner at everything gets to be discouraging at some point.  One begins to desire some level of expertise at a thing, from the practical sense of accomplishing something and the emotional sense of being able to accomplish it.  This requires a level of focus on a particular set of activities - and thus by default, a degree of specialization in them.

I have been considering this over the past weekend as I was about my business, taking stock of what is going on in my life.  Simply put, I could just work on the interests I have going on currently in my life for the rest of my life and not reach the outer limits of any of them.  I could probably also scale back my energy and time on some and still have enough to keep me interested and engaged.

Do not get me wrong: I will probably always be a generalist at some level, if for no other reason than being able to do a great many things turns out to useful.  But I also need to make peace with the fact that in order to advance meaningfully in some things, there must be focus and specialization - and a corresponding change in focus and energy.


Rain said...

I find that if I try to do too many things, I lose interest really fast. Right now I'm trying to focus on cooking and gardening. I have other interests like painting and writing but those are on hold for a while. We have to try to become more do-it-yourself types though when it comes to home repair - where we are both beginners and it does get frustrating. But I really think that practice makes perfect so we keep trying. We use You Tube a lot for instructions and we take our time. It feels good to know we've done something we never thought we could before!

I have to sit down with the budget very soon. We are determined to never sign another lease (we just renewed until June 2019). So reducing debt, saving for a down payment, paying bills on time to keep the credit rating healthy...needs strict planning for the next two years. I have to say I'm not looking forward to it at all! But I'm trying to keep my goal in mind, otherwise it really does get discouraging for me!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

That is an interesting point Rain, one I do not know if I have considered. Losing interest because of doing too much. Makes a certain sort of sense - too many inputs, outputs shut down. I shall have to consider this.

And, as you say, sometimes our interests have to be set aside for what needs to be done - and that can be frustrating. As my sink and gate exercises have taught me recently, things seem to take so much longer and cost more when you do it yourself, especially the first time - but the reward at the end is beyond price.

We are budgeting and rebudgeting, especially with college and increasing property values coming up. It does call into question how long we can afford to be where we are.