Archive for the ‘career choices’ Category

Searching for career, yet finding myself

January 11, 2010

The only way to get what you want, is to know what you really want.
And the only way to know what you really want, is to know yourself.
And the only way to know yourself, is to be yourself.
And the only way to be yourself, Larque, is to listen you your heart.
I do, ~ The Universe.
(sent from Mike Dooley)

This printed email has been on my computer for at least two years. However, I only recently feel like I know myself enough to know what I want (somewhat).

Months of unemployment triggered a treasure hunt for answers. What are my passions? What do I want? Who am I really? Do most people have answers to these questions?

It doesn’t seem like it. It seems like if we all knew what makes us happy, then that’s what we would do (or eat, or listen to, or think).

When I lost my job, it was difficult to listen to my heart because my brain kept saying “oh shit, what am I going to do?” I had to start with what I knew – what I dislike and did not want. I had to start analyzing my thoughts and actions – were they judgmental and why? Even harder, I had to dig deep to find out who I am – strengths and weaknesses.

This work would probably help just about anyone. Unfortunately, every day life keeps us busy enough that we don’t take the time to really listen to our hearts. (At least I didn’t.)

Career Coach Sean Harry co-created a workbook Career Crossroads: Finding Your Perfect Career. It could have been called Life Crossroads: Finding Yourself. The process he’s licensed applies to both. ARMS: Assessment, research, marketing materials, and strategy.

I thought I was pretty self-aware. Possibly I was only opinionated and loud. As soon as I admitted I didn’t know it all, even about myself, I began learning. The more I studied me, the more I wanted to know. The more I want to know.

I can’t take credit for the jewels uncovered in initial digging. In fact, this is a bit of a testimonial for coaches. Social Media Coach Joshua Waldman saw my true niche talent before I did. Sean often reminds me of strengths I’ve overlooked. Business Coach Noah Waldman helped me transform, literally, by sending head trash to the dumpster (where it belongs). The path to these great coaches began with Sales Coach Jeff Schneider who believed in me, and that was enough.

As thankful as I am to these guys, I will admit that I did all the dirty work. I mumbled to myself as I walked mile after mile; “What do I want? Where do I see myself? What is God’s plan for me? What are the solutions I bring?” (on and on until I almost ran over a gal walking her little dog). I made lists. I read books. I watched videos. I listened to webcasts. I wrote and wrote. I pushed myself. And I’m continually repeating the process.

Now I feel as though this work, if I keep doing it, will lead to the ideal life. That is what I want. Not just the perfect career or even the perfect body. I want to know the best Larque from every angle. If I know her – and become her – I will naturally be my best at everything.

Stand back! Fuse is lit and I want to see clearly.

December 28, 2009

I just finished rewriting my resume on VisualCV.com for the 20th time, I swear. The resume gets remarkably better every time and I just figured out why.

Often, I am too close to the subject to see it clearly. In conversation, I answer clearly and tell engaging stories. On paper though, it seems like every detail should count. My seemed like the place to regurgitate every action taken in each job.

Regurgitate is right! I didn’t look at the resume at all for two months. Since I quit concentrating on the job functions I had in the past, the more irrelevant they seem. If it were a past relationship I wouldn’t be droning on about every date we had, every present I got and every meal we shared. So I’m not sure why I listed out every mundane detail of the work relationships.

I just started reading a book that might have saved me a month of lamenting (if I had read it last month). It’s called the Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk, author of a column by the same name.

In seven chapters, Penelope has channeled my whole life. This is good because it means I am not a total freak. Yet, it’s bad because I’ve obviously made many of the same mistakes as her example characters. (And I’m only on chapter 7.)

It was the last two chapters of the book that caused me to leap from the window seat and hammer out better highlights of work accomplishments. Thanks to the help of Career Coach Sean Harry I already have a list of accomplishments – my solutions to companies’ needs. I just needed to write the resume based on those accomplishments.

Sean also prompted me to read the book (a month ago) and I am grateful.

Yes, I am still starting my own business. I can tell that the gist of the book is that whether I seek a traditional workplace or contract jobs, I need streamlined answers to “what did you do there” when prospective clients ask about my past work. Either way, they will want to know about my secret sauce.

I suspect that ideas will be igniting like fire crackers in my head as I continue to read this book. Much like when I light big crackers literally, I plan to watch the fuse from a distance. Hopefully this will help me see more clearly and not smother the spark.

Dream or nightmare, it’s still just one day

December 16, 2009

A woman in the Salem unemployment office just shared her amazing dream. She dreamt the president announced that we’d all had enough and everyone can now go back to work. In the dream she was inundated with calls from people who found work.

Then she woke up and cried. The dream is farfetched. Some days I feel like my dream of supporting my family again is also farfetched. I wake up and cry. Or I wake up and tell myself the day is a gift, go conquer. Either way, by the end of the day I’m often frustrated, confused and broke.

Yesterday I was so pissed I broke my 30-day blogging challenge rather than spread the negativity.

I found out I don’t qualify for the Self-Employment Assistance Program – a program that allows you to receive unemployment while you start a business. It’s only for people in the first six months of unemployment. Once you reach the extension phase, you don’t qualify.

I’m ticked mostly because I only learned of this program in the past two months. (I’ve been on extension two months.) I’m frustrated because full-time jobs with benefits are few while contract opportunities are seemingly everywhere.

The man at the employment agency was nice, yet condescending. I’m certain he didn’t mean to be crass. However, he suggested I get a job that pays an entry-level salary. Evidently he doesn’t know that employers hire people who won’t flee the minute a better job opens.

He was familiar with are the reasons I will lose unemployment and probably eligibility if the contract work ceases.

This conundrum is not going to destroy my positive attitude or resilience. I will not succumb to fear of “what ifs” just because government programs aren’t sensible. I will think it through and follow my gut. Possibly this chain of events intends to make me more tenacious.

But if you are in your first six months of unemployment and have a sound business idea, I suggest you act on it today. The Small Business Development Center through PCC has help and inexpensive classes for you. Plus, you can still qualify for the SEA Program.

As for the woman in the unemployment center, thank you for understanding. Thank you for having a warm heart and a dream that could come true.

Treasure hunting via informational interviews

December 11, 2009

Informational interviews are leading me to unexpected treasures.

I had not done enough of these interviews until recently to appreciate the diversity of gifts that result. The treasure is like a grab bag – you never know what it will be.

Like a good reporter, I have questions about a company’s goals, climate and hiring process as well as questions for entrepreneurs. I expect certain answers; pros and cons of the type of work. I had not anticipated jewels like contract opportunities, limited training events and referrals to further sources of invaluable information.

People I talk to have insights beyond my imagination. Small business owners offer priceless lessons on planning, fee scales and community needs. They help me avoid time-consuming and costly mistakes.

Plus it seems everyone has a list of books, blogs and websites that are “must reads.” (If someone could just tell me how to find time for all this reading …)

My career transition is like a second round in college, except this time I am confident, equipped with good questions and an attentive listener. I’ve learned to watch body language and listen in between the lines. What treasure lies in this conversation? What insider scoop awaits me?

Slowly, I approach the end of the book “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill. It has taken months to read because each section floods my brain with ideas, flashes and aha moments. I’ve read Hill for years and subscribe to the weekly emails, yet I finally grasp “infinite intelligence” and “the power of the mastermind alliance.” Both concepts propose that to succeed, I need the expertise of others. Rather than trying to “know it all,” I simply need to ask people to share their knowledge.

I am continually blessed by people’s generosity and willingness to share bits of their wisdom so that I may prosper. Next week, I get to return the favor.

(If you need help developing a career prospecting plan, go to www.CareerAdvice4U.com/311. This was precious advice from Joshua Waldman, http://careerenlightenment.net/, social media guru. Thanks Josh, CareerAdvice4U put me on the right track!)

Stability is a fairy tale (but I love fairy tales)

December 4, 2009

I am at a career crossroads, peering in every direction, looking for a big sign that says “Stability, 2 miles.”

After weeks at this crossroads, I have to admit that Stability is not a destination just over the horizon, a few miles into Security County. Stability is an enormous castle surrounded by sparkling moat water where pixies and unicorns frolic. Yeah, it is a fairy tale. Yet I still want it desperately.

My personal crossroads is this: in the past six months, more than 20 people have suggested I start my own business. As a contractor I can help people and companies find their voice and tell their story through marketing, PR and social media. I would also work as an ambassador/affiliate for other businesses such as CareerAdvice4U, sharing my enthusiasm for those companies’ amazing services. I registered with the Small Business Development Center, got reference books from the library and interviewed dozens of entrepreneurs. I started my business plan, sales model and rate structure.

And then I hit the road block square in the face, again.

What about my beautiful fairy tale where money is certain, vacation days are paid and insurance covers all my needs? I can’t seem to let go of the notion for a handful of reasons. First, I was raised by parents with traditional jobs. Second, I am up to my eyeballs in credit card debt, my savings and IRA are squandered and I have a big mortgage. Lastly, I suffer from chronic migraines and have used Imitrex since landing in its study program in 1992. Refills for pills or shots are hundreds of dollars.

Still, I know jobs can vanish. I lost two jobs in two years by no fault of my own. A recent LinkedIn discussion about salary verses commission jobs reiterated the point.

“Security is an illusion sold to people to get them to work for less by settling for less. The only real job security is your own bootstraps,” says Brad Justice.

“Many people “enjoying” a salary, without the benefit of an employment agreement, are concerned about (a) salary reductions, (b) layoffs, (c) merger/acquisitions,” added Vince Gallo.

These guys have been independent workers for years, so the choice is obvious to them. For the rest of us, a life-changing decision like this calls for help from a career coach like Sean Harry (www.CareerAdvice4u.com/311) or a life coach like James Warrick (www.takeflightcoaching.org). Both men have helped me listen to my heart and become more clear about my pending decision. There is no “right” answer, but I can’t keep standing still. Today, I need to step forward and stop worrying about the correct path. As I heard myself saying to coach Warrick … JUST DO IT.

(Author’s request: If you have gone through a process like this, please share your experience with me and the millions of us standing at the crossroads. Thank you in advance!)