Take Charge of Your Career Part 2

So what’s been holding you back? Why aren’t you in a career that brings you fulfillment?
No Experience
While not necessarily the easiest, this “problem” is certainly the most straightforward. And establishing a course of action to get there is just as straightforward. Research your dream job and find out what requirements you would need to get it. Then work on fulfilling those requirements.
If education is the hang-up, the good news is that the wide variety of educational and financial aid programs make it possible for just about anyone to get a degree. It may take a while, depending on your available time schedule and support system, but it’s possible. Think about what kind of program would work out best for you and do some research. We’ll discuss the time management and support system in a later post.
To get experience, try looking for internships or volunteer opportunities in the field that interests you. They likely won’t be paid, but they’ll give you a foot in the door and valuable life experience. Read all you can about the field and talk with others who’ve started and succeeded in that field. The internet can be a valuable resource when it comes to finding opportunities and individuals in a specific field. Join forums, participate in discussions and absorb as much information as you can. You never know who you’ll connect with, or what opportunities they may present.
Make a Career
If you have something you’re passionate about, there’s likely a way to turn it into a career. But the choices may not be very obvious. To get some ideas, do some internet searches with the topic you’re interested in and the word “jobs” or “career.” Or check out Careerbuilder.com and search for your interests as keywords. See what you come up with. Even if the jobs that come up don’t interest you, they may get your mind working in the right direction.
Other options are to write about your interest in a blog or for a magazine or look for or start a club or organization that focuses on your area of interest. Even if one of these options doesn’t turn into a career itself, it will give you the opportunity to network with others in the field, brainstorm with others who have similar interests and get you experience in the area you want to work in. You can also check out forums on related websites to get your mind working.
What Do I Do?
If your mind is thinking “aaahhh!!!!,” then you’re not alone. I had a lot of those moments. I did personality tests online, I browsed job postings, I read books — anything to try and come up with “the perfect job.” It wasn’t easy. And even now that I’ve decided which direction I’m heading in, there’s no guarantee I’ll love it forever. But I can always change, and I think that’s important to remember. I read somewhere that the average person has 3 or 4 careers in his or her lifetime. Not jobs, careers. So you’re not locked into one thing for the rest of your life. If something sounds interesting, give it a shot. If you like it, put more time and money and effort into it. If it’s not your thing, search elsewhere.
Now I’m not condoning job hopping. That won’t really help you. But if you find something that sounds good, read a little about it, search job postings, and talk to others in the field. If it still sounds like something you’d be interested in, pursue it. If not, look elsewhere. As with the above courses of action, you may want to try getting some education or experience in the field before jumping in to a job. Doing that will definitely help pad your resume and make you stand out. Even better, it’ll give you an idea if you really want to do it for a living or if it’s better as a hobby.
To get started, think about things that interest you. What kinds of hobbies could you see yourself doing full-time? Is there something you love reading about, learning more about, seeing in action? What did you want to be when you grew up? Reconnecting with that part of yourself can give you a glimpse into your subconscious.
It may take a while. For me, the process took months. It got very frustrating, especially when I was applying for jobs and getting interviews and still not getting anywhere. I can look back at that time and realize it was all for the best, but that doesn’t mean it was easy. Just think how rewarding it will be when you do find something, though! Having a game plan can make you feel like you have at least some say in what’s going on. And that can be very empowering.
Whoo! It’s lots to think about. We spend a large portion of our lives participating in our chosen job or career, so it’s important to really think about what you want to do. If you’re happy with your profession, great! If not, know that you’re not alone and that your life isn’t over. There’s still time to turn things around and have a career that brings you personal satisfaction and fulfillment.
Next we talk about money…Are you ready?

 

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Breaking It Down

So by now you should have at least an inkling of what you want to change in your life. If you’re anything like me, you probably want to change a whole bunch of things! And there’s nothing wrong with that. It just makes everything a little more complicated. But for simplicity’s sake, we’re going to take this one step at a time. For now we’re going to break down life changes into 5 categories: career, money, relationships, health and making a difference. Some may overlap, such as career and money or relationships and health. Just pick and choose what makes the most sense for you. The next few posts will be general overviews and tips. As time progresses, I’ll discuss specific ideas and plans, ways to stay motivated, etc. But for now, it’s important to get the juices flowing and stir your passion so you start feeling better about your life and what you’re doing with it.
If you’ve decided to take charge of your career, you’re in luck! That’s what I’m starting with first.
For me, this was actually the hardest thing to change. It wasn’t that I was happy with what I was doing. It was that I didn’t know what I wanted to do instead. I had a college degree in communications, with concentrations in journalism and radio/tv/film. But I had worked at a daily newspaper. I had worked at a television news station. Neither one was for me. Quite frankly, I didn’t like the news. And living in Connecticut, there aren’t a lot of media options other than that, so I was kind of stuck in that respect. (Yes, I probably should have thought of that while still in college!) As previously mentioned, I had had my own business making gift baskets, but I hadn’t succeeded in that either. And other jobs hadn’t brought me any fulfillment.
The trouble was: I had lots of interests, but nothing really stood out to me when it came to determining my life’s work. In addition, in the back of my mind, was the dream that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Since we were trying to conceive our first child, this was something to keep in mind, too. Still, I looked online for jobs and applied to anything that sounded interesting. It wasn’t until I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere (and that even the ones that “sounded interesting” weren’t that interesting to me) that I decided to switch gears. And to be honest, it’s kind of surprising I didn’t come up with the obvious choice earlier: writing.
Why was it the obvious choice? Well, throughout childhood, college, and into adulthood, writing was the only interest that really stayed consistent. I had other interests, but they had a tendency to come and go, or they weren’t feasible options when it came to making a living. Plus writing was a great option for staying home with our children, since I still wanted to bring in income while I was at home. So I threw myself into establishing a writing career.
For you, the choice may be easier, even if the execution isn’t. Perhaps you know what you’ve always wanted to do but lack the education or experience to get there. Perhaps you have an interest but don’t know how to turn it into a career. Or perhaps you’re in the same boat I was in.
Before we go into how to accomplish what you want to do, I want to make sure you’re all aware of one little thing: I’m not where I want to be yet, either. It’s a long process, and one that I’ve certainly made progress with, but I still have a long way to go. This blog is part of it, as are the novels that are advertised on the home page of this blog. I’ve also got lots of projects in the works, as indicated on my professional website. But even without the end product “completed,” I still feel a whole lot better than I did. At least now I feel like I’m getting somewhere, that I’m working toward something that is meaningful to me and that will bring me greater fulfillment in the long run. And sometimes that’s even more important.
Now let’s get into how to get you where you want to be. What problems are holding you back?

What Do You Want?

So you’ve decided to take charge of your life. Congrats! It’s not an easy decision to make, but knowing that you can turn your life around is very empowering. That being said, how are you going to change your life?
I’m sensing there are crickets in the room. It’s not an easy question. But even though your stomach may already be twisting in knots, your journey has only begun. The thing to determine now is how you want your life to change. What is it that you want? Are you looking for a new career? Are you hoping to start a new relationship, move your relationship to the next level, start a family? Do you want to get healthy? Do you want to bring more meaning into your life?
There are no wrong answers. That’s the beauty of it. It’s your life. You can make it what you want it to be. And while I would love to think you want to be a positive, proactive, contributing member of society, the truth of the matter is that you can apply these concepts to anything you want. It’s just a question of figuring out what it is you want and coming up with a course of action to get there.
That means it’s time for self-reflection. You may be miserable. You may be only slightly disgruntled. Either way, you’re not happy with how things are. So take some time to figure out what it is that you’re unhappy with. When you dream about what your life could be like, what is it that’s different?
In the next few blog posts I’ll be going into more ideas and suggestions to get your brain working, depending on which category your life changes fall into. While the possibilities are truly endless, many have come before you. And they have paved the way. With the internet — and the global community it’s developed — you have more options than ever. And that can only be a good thing. Now you can get the support, feedback and inspiration you need, when you need it. I’d like to think that this blog will be one source of inspiration for you, but it’s not the only one.
It’s going to be an exciting journey. It’s been exciting and invigorating to me, and I know it can be for you, too. So give it some time, think about what you want, and let’s get started!

A Reason For Everything

It wasn’t easy to be so discouraged and miserable with my life. It wasn’t a good feeling. But perhaps the hardest part for me was figuring out why I was at the point I was at. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. So why was I stuck in such a rut? Why had I, in my opinion, failed at so many things? What could possibly be the reason?
Reasoning It Out
In my own circumstances, I can find countless “reasons” why things happened. Why didn’t I get that job? Because if I had, I wouldn’t be able to be a work at home mom like I really wanted to be. Why did that relationship fail? Because I wouldn’t have found my husband otherwise. Why did it take so long for us to conceive? Because while I really, really wanted it, I wasn’t at the right point in my life until now. Why did my gift basket business fail? Because I would grow bored with it. And yet having that business taught me skills I would need in my writing business.
The more I think about it, the more the “plan” starts to make sense. Whether or not you believe in a divine being, if you really sit down and think about it, you can probably come up with reasons why each experience you’ve had has benefited you. Each experience has shaped who you are today, and to say that those experiences didn’t matter for anything would be to say that your life thus far has been meaningless. To put it bluntly, that’s just not true.
As difficult, as painful, as some experiences have been, they’ve taught you things you needed to know about yourself, about what you want and need, and about the people and world around you. By accepting and acknowledging the effect that those experiences have had, you can start to appreciate the “bad” stuff in your life and use what you’ve learned to turn your life around and make it what you want it to be.
So Fate Will Take Care of Me, Right?
Well, maybe. But even if there’s a reason for everything, that doesn’t mean that we should necessarily assume that life will take care of itself. Sitting back and expecting “what’s meant to be will be” isn’t a realistic path. Think about it. If the experiences you’ve had thus far have brought you to the point where you’re questioning what you want to do, who you want to be, then that’s what you’re supposed to do. Meaning, you’re supposed to take action now, not just sit and wait. If you were meant to sit and wait, you wouldn’t be so disgruntled and frustrated now. There’s a reason you’re feeling the way you’re feeling, just like there was a reason I was feeling the way I was feeling. It was the push that got me going, the motivation to do something about my life instead of just watch it go by.
The choice is yours. It always is. But will sitting back and watching your life pass you by make you any happier?

A Call to Arms

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that we’ve all been unhappy with our lives at some point or other. I know I’ve certainly had my moments. And if you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re at one of those points now. So what do you do about it?
My Story
For me, the time for that decision came when I turned 30. Quite frankly, I took turning 30 hard. Up until that point, my life had been a series of ups and downs. While I had some high points, such as getting married, buying a house, starting a business, I was nowhere near where I wanted to be. I had thought things would be on “the right track” by the time I turned 30. I had thought my career would be established, that I would have at least one child, that I would be happy. But guess what? My business had failed, I was in a job I didn’t like, we had yet to conceive our first child, and I was kind of miserable.
The question was: what was I going to do about it? I could float along, unclear in my goals, wallowing in self-pity, or I could take a deep breath, fortify myself, and take charge.
I decided to take charge.
And that’s where I am now. I took charge of my life, and while I wouldn’t say things are perfect, they’re a heck of a lot closer than they were. I’m establishing a career (writing), I’ve started a family (two kids!), and I have a clearer picture of where I want to go in my life.
That’s why I decided to start this blog: so I could talk about my journey and hopefully inspire others to take control of their own lives.
Choices
I think everyone has the ability to be happy. It just comes down to choices: the choices you make, and the choices you don’t make. Life is filled with choices, and times like these are no different. Times like these, you have even more choices to make, even more important decisions to take on.
Every single minute of every single day, we make choices. And the big ones, the ones that get us to take action or decide not to, the ones that involve where we live, what we do, who we spend time with, can determine if we’ll be happy or not. Are you going to just ride it out and hope for things to get better? Or are you going to grab the bull by the horns and take charge of your life? The decision is yours — but what you decide will likely determine the course of the rest of your life. Isn’t it worth it to think about those choices and make the ones that will have the greatest impact on the long-term?
It can be scary. I’m not going to say things have been easy, or that they will be easy. But it’s exhilarating to think that I can actually control how my life will turn out. Rather than sit on the sidelines as a victim, I can be the heroine of my own life. I can be whoever I want to be. I can do whatever I want to do (within reason!). And I can make a difference in the lives of others.
So who’s with me?