The key to my almost 30 years as a self employed creative professional is a lesson I learned in my first official job scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins:
I hadn’t really thought too much about it until last weekend, when a strange hashtag seemed to be trending on Twitter: #firstsevenjobs
I have no idea who started it or what its purpose is, but I have enjoyed seeing and contributing to those lists of young people’s jobs, and it triggered a few fond memories — and not a little humility. Here’s my list:
ice cream scooper
frozen yogurt purveyor
But who knew that one of my clients, Emily Lewis of Bright Umbrella, was a fellow former ice cream scooper at Baskin Robbins? She has a scar from the milkshake machine to prove it. I have a feeling she also has the self discipline I learned there.
At 16, I worked after school at the shop on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, CA (not sure if it’s still there.) That was my first “official” job — that is, I got it without any connections. (Before that, I had been babysitting since the age of 12 and my self employed parents had employed me as a receptionist in their factory.)
I was a little chubby as an adolescent so working at Baskin Robbins could have presented a very big problem. But I needed the money to make my car payments so I made a promise to myself:
The only way I could take the job was to promise myself to not eat one bite of ice cream — not one! For I already knew about slippery slopes and ice cream was one for me!
And somehow I accomplished it! It was definitely one of those one-moment-at-a-time things, where every time I wanted a bite, I would just say “no” to myself, as if I were the parent to my inner ice-cream addict.
I’m still doing that every day (about more than ice cream) and I have since learned that what I “want” doesn’t really matter anyway.
Doing what needs to be done is what matters, and it’s not usually what I want, so I have to choose. I try to choose the right thing.