Seeking a profession/life where it's all different EVERY DAY!
December 20, 2010 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a life where the only consistency is its INconsistency...

I'm a 32 year-old theatre artist who has worked in theatre for the past 10 years, as a director, actor, writer, technician, tour manager, booking manager, stage manager, you name it. I've done all of this very successfully, and have managed to make somewhat of a living at it.

However, in the past year or so, I've slowly become a bit bored with it. A bit bored with anything routine, that is. Even theatre, as crazy as it is, has its predictability, it's foreseeable arcs.

What I'm looking for is a career that is TOTALLY unpredictable and varied. I am good at a lot of things, from singing in four part harmony to construction to jungle survival to leading wilderness expeditions to organizing 1000-person festivals to graphic design to... The thing is, I don't want to do any ONE of these things- I want to do them all!

I'm happiest when I am constantly having to improvise, solve problems, and learn from the people and environment around me. Now I just need to get paid to do it.

I'm always seeking out adventure of any sort. Physical danger or hardship does not bother me. I have no debt and no family, so am totally flexible and unattached. I'm in good shape, smart, adaptable, and am originally from Minnesota, so climate is not an issue.

I have basic moral disagreement with military work, which would seem to be a pretty natural fit. Anybody else have any ideas for a guy seeking constant action and variety?
posted by rawredmeat to Work & Money (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
In all sincerity... have kids.
posted by skypieces at 6:19 PM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

Have you ever considered working in the film industry? Because it's a lot like that. Especially if you are part of production or the AD department, or maybe locations or the art department. Your theatre experience would probably get you a bit of an "in", too.

Hopping from feature to feature would probably make you happiest, but even TV series have a degree of unpredictability (different location every day, the need to draw on a different set of coping skills depending on what kind of craziness the day throws at you, telling a different story every week).
posted by Sara C. at 6:29 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

You say you have a moral disagreement with military work, but what about the Coast Guard? They're technically an armed service. But, they're the fucking Coast Guard. They're the only folks with guns in the US who are unequivocal good guys.

Along those lines, what about wilderness SAR?
posted by Netzapper at 6:32 PM on December 20, 2010

Aside from patching together a bunch of freelance gigs from craigslist or the like, this going to be tough. The main issue is that those of us that pay people for their services do so because the people getting paid are good, or at least adequate, at what they do. In most, but not all, cases, that's because they've spent time on the job, practicing. While you may be adaptable, I'm going to hire the jungle guide who has been doing this for 20 years before I hire you, who has been doing it for 2 weeks. For most things you would like to get paid to do, graphic design, for instance, you've got to have the skills before you get paid. You can be a walk-on lettuce picker or janitor, but from the tone of your question I don't think that's what you're looking for.
posted by craven_morhead at 6:33 PM on December 20, 2010

I also think working on film sets would suit you.
posted by fac21 at 6:42 PM on December 20, 2010

(Don't think the military doesn't have routines.)

Run a small business. I can guarantee you every day will be different.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:47 PM on December 20, 2010

In all sincerity... have kids.

Raising kids is pretty much based in routine, and can limit what you're able to do.
posted by moira at 7:00 PM on December 20, 2010 [6 favorites]

TV news, more than film. A whole lot of film is "hurry up and wait". Even reality shows are less predictable than film (film set with a lot of unpredictables are unhappy film sets.) You could probably transition into reality TV without a lot of effort.

Also, EMT, emergency room medicine, firefighter (also a lot of down time but when there's action, there's ACTION!) Search and rescue work, but you need to be meticulous, rather than just action.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:09 PM on December 20, 2010

A whole lot of film is "hurry up and wait"

This really depends what you do. My last gig (as the director's assistant), I barely got to eat for the first two weeks of the shoot. And over the whole 20 day shoot, I never got into a rhythm of anything that would have been considered "boredom". And the set PA's and AD's worked a hell of a lot harder than me.

If you're a grip or something? Then yes. You basically sit around all day waiting for the camera to move or for there to be a complicated lighting setup.
posted by Sara C. at 7:15 PM on December 20, 2010

Find a job that you can do remotely (consultancy, writing/editing, graphic design, photography, etc.), and then develop a good solid client base, where do you don't have to worry about income.
And then, go nuts! Country hop! Live in a different country in SE Asia each month for a year. Meet some new friends that invite you off to Madagascar with them? Sure! 3 weeks on the beach? (With your laptop, of course.) Why not?

You're going to need consistent income. Spontaneity is wonderful, but you'll start to get hungry if you're not making a living. But working remotely allows you to continue earning money while allowing you the freedom to do pretty much whatever you want.
posted by hasna at 7:16 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Working for an international health-care or disaster relief organization sounds like it would fit your bill. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies might be a place to start.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:18 PM on December 20, 2010

People get paid at work because they can be relied on to do a few things well. When you're doing a ton of different stuff, you're going to be not so great at some of them, which is why jobs aren't really set up that way.

Sounds like you have three realistic options to get the kind of varied work lifes you want:
- have a few different part-time jobs
- be a freelancer who juggles a bunch of different types of projects. (That being said, you'll have a hard time selling yourself since you'll be accurately perceived as a 'jack of all trades' and potentially master of none)
- Start your own small business. That way, you can be an office manager, book keeper, manufacturer, janitor, marketing director, salesperson, and CEO all at the same time.
posted by Kololo at 8:16 PM on December 20, 2010

In response to the few people who have mentioned search and rescue work: I'm a SAR volunteer, and to my knowledge the amount of paying SAR jobs are few and far between, and most, if not all, of those involve SAR as simply one aspect of another, perhaps more regimented, job. Say Park Ranger, for example.

In the U.S., at least, the majority of wilderness search and rescue is done by unpaid volunteers.

That being said, if you're looking for an adjunct to your normal 9-5, and have an understanding/flexible boss, SAR is awesome. There's a fair bit of drudgery, plenty of hurry-up-and-wait, and the missions aren't always thrilling, but there can also be quite a bit of excitement, you'll meet and befriend some incredible people, and you might even have a hand in saving a life or two.

If I'm severely misinformed and there are paying SAR jobs outside of the military or Park Service, please let us all know where to look, 'cause the OP might have to stand in line behind me to turn in an application.
posted by zen_spider at 10:08 PM on December 20, 2010

I would second healthcare - as an MD or RN. I work contracts from 4 to 13 weeks all over the Western United States. The job (intensive care and emergency department) is varied and intense and I can take as much time off as I want - the pay is very good. Further, the skills one develops are in demand everywhere, from small clinics in Yellowstone to urban Seattle to Africa. Oh, and you make your own schedule - I favor 6 on 8 off. I have friends who work as flight nurses and prefer helicopter services that cover remote areas, they frequently shoulder packs and hike to injured hunters and climbers. The bummer is school - 75% of nurses and physicians are scary idiots - but if you pay your dues and avoid punching anyone there are zillions of great jobs.
posted by rotifer at 7:04 AM on December 21, 2010

I would think Police / Fire / Rescue/ Paramedic would fit your bill, although I don't have direct experience of these occupations.
posted by canoehead at 9:22 AM on December 21, 2010

I'm happiest when I am constantly having to improvise, solve problems, and learn from the people and environment around me. Now I just need to get paid to do it.

be a Section 8 landlord?
posted by serena15221 at 1:25 PM on December 21, 2010

Thanks everybody! Much food for thought!
posted by rawredmeat at 9:57 PM on December 21, 2010

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