Category Archives: job search

The thorns in the road less traveled

I read an awesome quote today that read something like- “two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled… and boy did it hurt! rocks, thorns, I even lost my pants!”

I had to laugh. I have loved the real phrase for so long and hoped to be the one that took the road less traveled. In the past I have been mostly glad. I feel that often in the past I was rewarded with what I wanted- a different experience, an interesting story or a good outcome. However, I am having a hard time with this current endeavor at career change and agreeing that seeking work where you feel like you are in fact “tap dancing” to work is the good way to go at this stage in life (i.e. mid career).

I used to think that people didn’t seek their true passions because they were afraid, because they needed a middle class income, because they made up all these restrictions in their heads. I still think that is true but I now see the downside in trying to find your true passion. It’s possible that you take too long to find it (or never find it) and so you’ve missed out on building an expertise in something mediocre for the wish to find that which truly motivates you. I thought that if one looked one would be certain to find. I still hope that is true but I also want to be good at something, not just moving from “interest” to “interest” and in the end being excellent at nothing. This is important to me because all my personality tests say that I enjoy feeling very knowledgeable and an expert in my “area”, meaning line of work. Perhaps, I wonder, if I had not sought the career change I could have just focused on achieving the “very knowledgeable” status in my prior field and that would have been fulfilling enough. As it stands now, I have neither the advanced knowledge in a field I kind of care about nor do I have the work in a field that I love.

So, there are more risks to the road less traveled than just income or what people will think of you. I didn’t even think I was veering that far off the path– I’m getting too old for that much adventure! There are real risks of ending up nowhere, in an open field with nothing around and double guessing yourself while others go along their perhaps boring but well trodden path; but at least they know where they are going. Mostly I fear going about in circles and ending up where I started and for all that effort I got neither the adventure I sought nor the outcome I envisioned. Maybe this means making the circle very, very big, like in The Alchemist. If you haven’t read it, give it a try. The way I’m bumming out, seems like I should read it again.

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Some tools to get you started

A friend recently asked me to tell her what might help her figure out what she wanted to do next in her career. Considering how confused I am about that question and how spectacularly I seem to be failing at my own career change, I found it surprising that she would ask me. But I guess, while I don’t have the answer, I HAVE done a good amount of reading on the subject. I spent some time searching for the materials that stand out in my mind as inspirational or helpful. I figured I would share these here.

First, watch this Ted talk by Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career. I really believe that many of us fall in to the traps that he points out. We think they are obstacles and many times they are just excuses

a brief guide to world domination and Chris Guillebeau’s website generally is wonderful to open your mind to possibilities. Live a life that will truly exhilarate you. Living in a wealthy country that is at peace, where most of us can meet our essential needs (food, health, shelter), we have the opportunity to create a life true to ourselves. I find this is harder to do than it seems. It’s hard to be creative and to truly let go of the perceived barriers we grew up assuming are fixed when they are just self imposed limitations.

Next, I like Paul Myer’s Simple System to Achieve Your Goals. The book and worksheets are free. I didn’t do many of them but I am thinking I’m going to go back now that I am less jaded (…I think). 

If you want something quicker, try these Fast Exercises to Find Your Purpose and Passion for Work.

Careershifters is a good website for inspiring stories and nice articles.

And, not related directly to career change, but a great site I have loved to see flourish over the past five years is tiny budda. It will help you find your zen in many of life’s challenges. 

The biggest thing I’ve learned is that, even if you look and are willing to take the risks, you may not quickly find what you are looking for. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth the search. I have to hope that it’s worth it to keep looking and that when you get there it will have been worth the journey in order to live a life with a purpose individual to each. Haven’t gotten there, so can’t say for sure. In the meantime, continuing to search.