Don't Mind Me, I Was Just Bored (Guestpost)
SEO Chicks are all around the web and most certainly all around Searchcowboys. Where our own columnist Lisa Ditlefsen (Myers) is writing regularly in this guestpost series we have Judith Lewis and now Jane Copland writing for us. The honour is all ours!
Jane Copland is an SEO consultant from Ayima Search in London, England. She is from Wellington, New Zealand, but worked with SEOmoz in Seattle prior to joining Ayima in January, 2009. Amongst better achievements, she was once New South Wales state champion over 50m backstroke, which was "one of the biggest flukes ever to happen in a swimming pool".
Don't Mind Me, I Was Just Bored
Two weeks ago, a massive dose of perspective taught me otherwise. I still don’t read blogs and I still find writing about SEO to be an unpleasant idea (notice I’ve not actually done that in a really long time), but I figured out some stuff about burn out.
Before I worked in SEO, I was a swimmer. I quit at the age of 22, fed up with the sport and on the verge of more permanent injuries from years of competitive breaststroke. I didn’t swim for three months, and the first time I managed to get back into a body of water, it was Priest Lake. The idea of a pool, twenty-five or fifty metres long and roped up into lanes, turned my stomach. However, last week, I swam two races during the Mare Nostrum series in France and Monaco. I didn’t exactly excel (I used to make finals in those meets), but I had a better time doing it than I had since the age of about seventeen. The reason I enjoy it so much now (and why my two oldest teammates do as well) is because now, post-university, we were and are doing this because we want to, not because we have to.
Suffice to say, burning out and becoming tired of something is not a guarantee that you’ll never want to do it again. It is true that I am no longer prepared to put in the work to be as good as I once was, but I freed myself from the distaste I had for swimming. It’s fun again. I have no plans that extend past swimming the Fort Lauderdale International Invitational next weekend and that is what’s good about it.
The problem with SEO is that is can be as all-consuming as a sport. A lot of people can't leave their jobs at the office: they're talking SEO online well into the night, bickering with people around the world about something that amounts to little more than electronic marketing. By venturing back to my old life for a little while, it became even more obvious to me than it was before that it's not healthy to throw oneself into anything they way people in our industry do. Now more than ever, I value my friends who have nothing to do with SEO, just like I value friends who have nothing to with swimming and who won't know the difference between me swimming a 29 or a 26 second 50m freestyle. We all know that balance is important, but because few of us really ever achieve it, we rarely truly understand how healthy it is.
Most people who’ve spent time working in the same industry have come across this feeling to some extent. I can only be thankful that the industries in which I’ve worked are actually relatively interesting: there is far less room to get bored or burned out in SEO or swimming than in the myriad of dull occupations available. And I suppose that becoming disenchanted with something really does say far more about the individual than the activity.
During my foray back into competitive sport (which is quite honestly just a source of amusement and nothing more), I did, however, discover some surprising similarities between my two industries. These similarities aroused the suspicion that these similarities exist everywhere, especially in fields that are quite young (SEO) or involve young people (swimming). The most noticeable similarities are as follows:
Don’t forget your goddamn pass
Michael Gray’s Pubcon pass thanks to danperry.com on Flickr.
The after parties are amazing.
Some teams / companies think they’re all that. Some teams / companies are all that.
Gossip reigns supreme.
Everyone wants schwag.
New technology fights with industry norms and rules.
Both industries have their toxic personalities who cause havoc wherever they go.
All the coolest coaches / bosses drink with their athletes / employees.
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