Walking the Cat . . .

Because life's kinda like that . . .

It Was Inevitable (I just didn’t see it coming . . .)

with 2 comments

There’s a lot to be said about losing your job.  Unfortunately, most of what can be said is censorable.  It is unpleasant, to say the least.  It is also frightening, often terrifying, and guaranteed to bring on so much stress and anxiety you’re likely to think you’ll have a heart attack before you collect your first unemployment check (if you’re lucky enough to qualify for unemployment benefits).  But there’s also an upside to losing your job.

It forces you to take a long, hard look at yourself and examine the reasons you lost your job in the first place.  For me, it was not only illuminating, it was life-changing.  I started going over my resume (that sad, neglected list of previous employers I hadn’t bothered to update in at least ten years), trying to determine where first to send it.  There were — and still are — a number of businesses in my area (luckily, quite a few had managed to stay open in spite of the economy) and I felt, with my credentials and work experience, I should have no trouble finding another job.  But as I began to review my resume, I had what could only be described as “an epiphany”.  I no longer enjoyed doing what I had been doing for the last tthirty years.   I realized I hadn’t enjoyed what had become my life’s work for some time.  I should have called it quits ten years earlier.   If I had, I probably wouldn’t be in the predicament I now found myself; considering a career change at a time when most people my age were either nearing retirement or already retired, preparing to enjoy their “golden years”.

I had only the vaguest ideas of what I wanted to do; going back to the “same old grind” was out of the question.  No way was I going to allow another job to get pulled out from under me.  That left something new, something challenging and rewarding, personally as well as professionally.  Basically, I’d had only one job for the past three decades and I had no idea what, if anything, else I was suited for.  Every entrepreneurial guru, every motivational huckster, every successful businessperson extols the virtures of “finding something your passionate about” as a means of finding your way to the new, rewarding career you’ve always wanted.  I thought, “Why not?  I’ve certainly got nothing to lose.”   But exactly how do you go about finding your passion?  I mean you can’t go to the library and check out the books catalogued under “PASSION”; all you get with that is an embarrassingly long list of Danielle Steele romance novels (okay, maybe a few Nora Roberts’, too) and nothing else.  There are thousands (literally!) of websites devoted to your search for your passion; none them, by the way, tell you how to recognize that passion, only how to search.  And so, much like Dorothy, I began my trek along the yellow brick road in search of “my passion”.  And that was when I hit the first, and only, roadblock on the road to my passion.

I had absolutely no idea what I was passionate about!  Fact is, I completely misunderstood what a passion was!  I was interested in a great many things; books, reading, history, business (of course), movies (although I dislike many of the special-effects-driven movies out today), cooking, metalsmithing and maybe twenty or thirty other things, none of which I’m especially passionate about.  But then I discovered something I’d totally overlooked.  Passion has very little to do with eye-bulging, heavy-breathing, salivating furious explosions of energy.  It has to do with finding something you are so totally interested in you immerse yourself in it, lose track of time when you’re engaged in it; so enthralled with what you’re doing you have to be forcibly dragged away from it.  That, friend, is passion.  And it is something I never realized I possessed until I began to evaluate my resume.

Evaluating your resume, or in the case of career-changers like me, re-evaluating, is the first step in finding your passion.  I didn’t realize it, but I’d been passionate about some aspect of my career if I’d managed to perform, essentially, the same work for a number of different companies over the years.  Individually, I looked at each of the jobs I’d done, ferretting out specific skills I acquired in each of them.  Slowly, a pattern began to emerge, one I hadn’t recognized at the time, but one that should have been glaringly obvious.  Teaching.  In every one of those past jobs, I’d been involved in training new employees and in providing ongoing training for the more experienced ones. I even wrote an employee training manual for one employer.  Outside the job, I’d provided advice on how to improve job skills, where to look for educational opportunities, how to write resumes and so on.  What really surprised me about this “revelation” was I didn’t mind helping these people, didn’t feel put upon the way I did when the boss added to my already abundant (at least I thought so) workload.  I’d enjoyed it.  In fact, I looked forward to those times when helping opportunities arose.  So, when the job was no longer taking a disproportionate amount of my time, I began looking for opportunities to help  — anyone.  I volunteered for Special Olympics, I became a leader, of sorts, to people enrolled in my job-hunting workshops (a role which may have been less than welcomed by the workshop moderators), I took courses in American Sign Language (ASL) in order to better communicate with people I interacted with in Special Olympics.  It seemed everything I did was geared toward helping.  Without realizing what I was doing, I had found my passion.

Now all that remained was to formulate some way to fashion my new-found passion into a career.  That’s what I’m going to write about in my next post — how to fashion a career from passion.

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Written by stevewthomas

May 6, 2011 at 6:58 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Steve,

    Looooved it! I found it fun, witty and interesting and for the “attention challenged”-and easy read. I look forward to your next post.
    BTW, my passion is sleeping. Any career in that? Oh yea, Air Traffic Controller:)

    Terrie Rubino

    May 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm

  2. So….that’s how you do it!

    I’ve found that I’m wearing a stack of hats that would make the Mad Hatter grin with glee! Since departing my professional life in favor of not paying daycare, I’ve become active in my kids’ school lives as an officer in the PTSA and also as a Scout Leader. Every day is an opportunity to share all the little shinies in my treasure trove of things I love.

    No financial gains, no insurance, no paid sick time, but benefits abound!

    Really wish it came with a paycheck sometimes, though.

    SC Thomas-Faler

    May 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm


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