I went to dinner with a new friend Sunday evening. We have a lot in common, we both enjoy video games and nerdy things. I’ve read the first book in the Death Note manga series, she’s going to lend me the rest when we hang out again. Earlier that day, I’d gotten lunch with another friend. Earlier that week, I was able to contact even another friend last minute to see if she wanted to go to a concert I had an extra ticket to.

That may not seem like a big deal, but a few months ago, I had maybe one friend in DC that I felt comfortable to call anytime to hang out. This is a vulnerable admission – I am pretty outgoing and make friends easily.

A few months ago, despite more time due to the lack of friends, my desire to develop my professional life outside of work dwindled. I stopped updating social media and my blog.

The vision of me I’d built was slowly deteriorating.

You probably have a vision of who you want to be. Your exact career path may be unknown, but you probably have a desired progression timeline. Your dream wardrobe is probably fuzzy at best, but you likely know the perception you want strangers to have of you. You don’t know the names of friends you want, but you know what you want to do with friends when you hang out.

A few months ago, I realized that I couldn’t be my vision of myself all at once. I don’t have enough energy. So I chose aspects to work on, one by one.

My career foundation felt solid. I’d gone above and beyond in my professional development before my motivation fizzled. I even felt happy with my style – I knew exactly what I wanted when I shopped and limited my wardrobe. Before I realized that I had limited energy, I was attempting to dedicate myself to each of those aspects of my life as though I was still trying to build those foundations. I took a step back, I gave myself permission to focus on new foundations – such as making friends. And now I feel some of my energy returning for everything else.

I’m still working on every aspect of me and my vision, but it’s now a fun adventure – not an overwhelming process.

I know this is a training blog, so let’s apply it there. To professional development in general. Focus on gaining a foundation in one skill at a time. If you try to learn Storyline, graphic design, and instructional design skills all at once – you will feel overwhelmed and feel like you’re failing. Take that step back. Make it a fun adventure – where you’re picking up new skills on the way.