Tag Archives: career change

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.

A small adventure awaits….I think

I’ve been gone a while. For a bit I was dreading the accountability. I didn’t achieve my smart goals. All the things I “should have” been doing give me acid in my stomach. And every so often, they feel natural, just every so often. Anyway…I have news… 🙂

I’ve received a verbal offer for a two month “trial” period for what I believe to be an exciting operational finance related position. Its a different type of company than I’m used to– a rag tag, small startup- in another city but I’m willing to try it. I think it might be fun. As this opportunity rolled in, after a few months of waiting for them to get back to me, I was working on another exciting opportunity at another startup working on an online product. Both these things happened at once and to make it more busy a third interview cam my way for an entirely different opportunity in private wealth that I have decided not to pursue for now.

Perhaps my diverse opportunities exemplify my confusion on what I want to do “when I grow up”. I’m past 35 so perhaps this is not a good thing. No matter. I will try to be as excited about a clean slate as I was in my 20s. I remember the butterflies in my belly, partly from excitement and partly from fear. These days, those butterflies are mostly fear but I have to find a way to turn them into excitement. Perhaps I am finally getting this career change on the road. I surely hope so. I’m ready to get going!

 

Volunteer work while j*b se*rching

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I’m a self help junkie. I guess I figure SOMEONE out there knows what they’re doing! That’s not always the case but in reading books and articles on job searching I have often read that it’s good to volunteer while going through a job search or career transition. I have often looked for volunteering opportunities regardless and about six months before I left my job I started volunteering for the Taproot Foundation. Taproot is an excellent organization that puts groups of professionals together on consulting projects that last about 4-6 months to help non-profit organizations. Having volunteered for several organizations in the past, Taproot is a wonderful, well-organized, professional foundation that, I felt, treats their volunteers as professionals and seeks to provide quality help to their “client” base (the non-profits they help). We had an awesome group of five finance professionals that sought to advise and build a financial model for an education non-profit. This project reminded me of what it was like to work with a cool team on a cool project for cool people.

Now that I am out in limbo I have done a little volunteer work for the same education non-profit that we worked with through Taproot and, while it doesn’t give me the “boost” that I expected, it does get me out of the apartment to interact with people in the real world for a good cause. It helps me check a “completed” box at the end of the day that includes an appreciation for my efforts, as opposed to the hated, fruitless tasks related to that which we shall…. not…… name….

It helps that I worked with this organization before in a professional capacity so I am able to use at least a small portion of my professional skills. Still, I think I might try volunteering in something more active or hands on. Perhaps something I’ve never tried before is in order– an animal rescue (though I risk coming home with another pup) or a gardening circle (I haven’t had a farmer’s tan -or any tan!- in years).  The verdict is still out on how much volunteer work helps your mindset during the job search, however, I highly recommend Taproot Foundation as a great organization to volunteer with. Another organization I enjoyed being a part of was Streetwise Partners which seeks to help under-resourced adults improve their employ-ability by improving their office/administrative skills, improving their computer skills, providing mentorship and helping them understand that process which shall… not… be… named.

Happy volunteering and Happy hunting.

The kindness of strangers

smiling coffeeAfter ranting about the silent treatment the universe decided to give me a little something back. I had coffee yesterday with a woman I met through the job hunt madness. She has more experience than I but our career aspirations are tangentially related. I have only met up with her once before, about two months ago for lunch, and I liked her energy so I decided to hit her up again to chat. She has recently found a job but she made time for me. And it was so nice to hear her encouragement, her affirmation that the process is hard and tiring, even for someone with as much energy and experience as she has. She offered to put me in touch with a few people that might be useful and I was on my way, standing up a little straighter from her genuinely kind pep talk.

I suppose I should focus on and be thankful for those people who are open and willing to help, even if only on one small step, one connection, one piece of advice. I appreciate those that do put me in touch with their contacts even though my email is out of the blue and I haven’t spoken to them in years. I appreciate those alumni who answer my emails and are willing to chat. Sometimes people are willing to chat whom I just happened to find on Linkedin and I thought they could help me- no connections, no introductions. I appreciate those people who are encouraging of my career transition and give me tangible advice and a bit of encouragement. They tell me what was helpful to them in their job search or transition, they recognize some things they should have done but didn’t do because they understand its hard to do, they acknowledge the difficulties and encourage you to push through because they did it and they hope that I can too. Looking back, when job hunters “networked” me I might have been an average contact at best. It’s hard to know how to help sometimes but even just saying yes to a call and giving fifteen minutes of your time breaks the cold shoulder pattern that makes the job hunting process so difficult.

 

Treat me bad baby, I get off on it…

Ahh, don’t you just love the cold shoulder when you are job hunting? You do your best. You dress up for the nice interview. You do your homework. You are polite, you smile, you do your best to see straight ad sound smart after four hours of interviews. You are actually interested in the damn company. Everyone is nice and cordial. You think you did ok, you put your best foot forward. “We’ll let you know tomorrow.” You write your thank you notes like you’re supposed to. And then….radio silence. You follow up, not even a response to your email. Job hunters out there, it’s the best feeling out there isn’t it??!!!

I wish I could say, “Well if that’s how they treat you, then you don’t want to work there anyhow. Good riddance!”. Well, at this rate, there will be no one else to work for! HAHA…(not really, its not really funny but sometimes you have to pretend to laugh). When I worked on “wall street” it was ok. They have the reputation of skinning people so you can grow it all back much thicker than before. I really don’t know why “the street” gets a bad rap, considering that I have now seen equal rudeness elsewhere. Perhaps it is a function of capitalism. People forget their manners when they are dealing with job hunters. Is it the power play? Does it make them feel better to treat someone else like they don’t matter? Just once, I’d like to walk into an interview and tell the interviewer how much their product sucks and how I’m glad they are getting devoured by their competitors and how I look forward to the further implosion of their stock price. Take that and stuff it where the sun don’t shine!

But that’s not how my momma taught me. And plus, I’d probably end up doing my rude antics to the one person who WOULD in fact answer my email and treat me cordially. There are those nice ones out there, they are few and far between. I hope they are blessed with great employees.