I hate my job. I seriously do. I mean I’m glad I took it when I did because it was an entry into the rhythm of the new town where I moved. However, I’ve been there four years now, have searched six years for a segue from the position I previously held so that I can go on to my career path–and it’s not there!!! I’ve applied all over the place, have my name in a temp agency and–-nothing.
You may say that I have been in a major crisis of life, both financially and existentially. I’m dependent on my job for survival, but the crazy hours wreak havoc on my personal life and my ability to get a foot in the door anywhere else. Added to that has been the utter embarrassment of professional people who know me seeing me in a cashier’s position at a local drugstore. I wonder sometimes who in the world is going to take me seriously now??? (I have two advanced degrees and loads of experience.) Applying for jobs has been a colossal waste of my time for many reasons I won’t outline here.
But there is a silver lining.
I never realized how much I really know and how fantastic my skills actually are until I came to this crisis. You know how you can go to a job interview and they ask you if you know about this thing and that thing and some other thing? And maybe you know the field generally and you know certain specific things they don’t know, but they are only interested in what they know about??? And what they know is utterly arcane? Okay, so maybe you don’t have a background that deals with that situation, but I do.
That has always frustrated me because it makes you sound like you were born yesterday and know nothing. But it’s not true.
So the other day I read something about branding. I’ve already gone through all the branding and marketing stuff….. But it was the part where someone said that lots and lots of people are doing the same stuff that you do. What sets you apart is YOU. You do what you do in a different way than all those other people. And then I got it!!! It’s about brand authenticity…but that’s a buzz word. No, it’s something more than that. We spend so much time marketing ourselves that we never learn what kind of skills it takes to actually get something done. Branding is also a distraction.
Also, in my case, it’s my age. I’m still trying to get ‘permission’ to join middle management where in reality, people think I’m ready to retire. But this is stupid. I’ve lived through enough that I see through the crap that goes in in business and I’m not fooled. I know that I’m darn good at anything I do and that the reward for doing well is that you get more work and not necessarily better pay or more say. It’s a certain kind of person who moves up–if there is an “up” at least. They aren’t always the wisest people or the smartest, but they are often the savviest and sneakiest. (Narcissists are documented as seeking and landing higher positions.)
So a couple of weeks ago, an interesting possibility landed in my lap just as I was contemplating all this. I decided to follow it up because I had just decided that I never want to work for anyone but myself again. This was the perfect opportunity to break that deadlock and establish myself in my field(s) with one fell swoop. I realized that the best thing was to forget about brands and money for the moment and invest in people. Yes, it entails volunteering to take on a project that pays nothing, but it positions me perfectly to help someone I like and also to learn or sharpen the skills I need for where I want to go. (I already have a built-in mentor–my husband.)
Instead of imagining great financial success and professional recognition, I asked myself firstly what I need to survive and secondly what I want my life to be about. I need money, but I also need to quit wasting my life. We go to school to get what? A job? Or maybe not. Maybe it’s to be an educated person and to learn how to think. The two don’t always go together, but in my case they are surely interwoven.
I kept reading materials and the more I read, the more it seemed obvious that I just needed to jump off somewhere–take a plunge. I needed to identify where I wanted to land and then just do it! And then be prepared to run like hell or swim.
I made new business cards, used a new title that covered all sorts of things–it didn’t have to be official. I can use it for all the many kinds of things that I do. I started a plan by writing out these questions:
- What do I want to do?
- How does that manifest? (In other words, what does that look like and to what does it apply?)
- What are my skills?
- What skills do I need to acquire to do what I want?
- What do I need to survive?
It was the best thing I ever did. I didn’t need to think too hard. I just needed to think with passion. After answering these things, I needed to ask myself what needs doing to apply what I am able? I have some projects in the works already and need to revisit them.
I know that the answers are coming. I’ll be working on defining my skills and services more exactly as I see how the application of them to what I want to accomplish shapes up. Those skills and services will become the basis of my two-minute pitch in the future.
I never had the courage to take a plunge like this, but I am a woman of prayer.