Thursday, September 12, 2013

Job searching

Some of you all out there are or were (recently) searching for job. [You know who you are] And so if you are one of those that have recently completed a job search or/are still in the process of job searching, this article is for you.You see -- no one really understands what this is all about, unless they've walked a mile in his shoes.

My job search has been with laced ups and downs plus lots of twists and curves. Although I've been unemployed a few times in the past, nothing prepared me for the unemployment that I would experience in years 2011, 2012, and a portion of year 2013.

For one, the United States economic recession has been deeper than many of us realized.

Oh sure, there are those that had jobs.  You ‘employed’ had to do extra task in the workplace due to delayed hiring. You all had to pick up the slack (i.e. more with less). Yet for those of us that were members of the long-term unemployed, it just seemed like the party was over and that the door would be locked forever.

What could we do?

Oh sure, we all though this hiring slump was just a seasonal thing. How long is the season if we look at the four seasons of the weather? They typically rotate in and out once every three months. Four seasons times three months equals to 12 months…this is one year. But this season of unemployment just went on and on and on and on.

Many of us were lucky enough to draw unemployment and that was truly a godsend. Yet we workers were used to work -- having a purpose. And not being a part of the workforce; well, we just felt like we had some type of disease. We all wanted to return to the former shadow that we left behind. Whether we were professionals in the business world, the banking world, or the education world. Whatever profession or vocation we were in, we thought that if we were just able to hold on then surely the good times would roll again.

Things didn't pan out – 2008>2009>2010>2011>2012>2013 came and went. We all had to come face-to-face with the fact that maybe the former would not return. That painful realization that we had to search and find a career anew. Perhaps we would never have another professional career again? Many of us were led to become entrepreneurs and/or become self-employed; although that was not part of our quote/unquote PASSION. But we do what we have to do in order to survive… Don’t we? 

Starting all over again ain’t gonna be fun… 

So how do how do we start all over? How do we regain our sense of purpose? For me, the answer was neither to reinvent nor to go back in time. But to look at where I was…right now and in this very moment. I had to find a way to take everything together and cover the basics.

I went back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Dr. Maslow, a famous psychologist, is known for his Pyramid of Needs. The basics, or the bottom of the pyramid, is what we call security needs. At the tippy-top of the pyramid is the elusive and Utopia's place of self-actualization.

Maslow theorized that none of us could aspire to or achieve self-actualization without the benefit of the pyramid needs fulfillment. We cannot move forward unless our security needs are met at its most basic and primal level. Those basics are simply food, clothing and shelter. The secret is that much of our work simply satisfies the basis for the covering of those basics…food, clothing and shelter. And that’s okay!

When we look at Maslow’s pyramid, we begin to understand that we must cover the basics. This covering of basics means doing whatever we need to do – as long as it is moral, ethical and legal. In my case, that meant taking on odd jobs that were either part-time or contractual, or even seasonal. I had to face the fact that I had to do what I had to do in order to survive. It is through this surviving that I learned about what it takes to really understand what life is all about. Understanding myself as a human being. I found my voice. And when I found my voice, I actually found myself.

Money is important like oxygen 

Once upon a time, I believed that I needed to make certain amount of money and/or achieve certain goals. Of course, I still believe that money as well as goals is awfully important. But they’re not the all-in-all of importance. Persons living within Western societies don’t need as much money as we think that we do. We don’t need everything that we have and we don’t need to spend every dollar that we earn in order to survive. I learned that I can make less and enjoy life even more.

Make no mistake, I don’t wish this learning experience upon anyone. Nor is this lesson without pain. However, I did learn that I can make it no matter what. And although currently, I am underemployed, it has been my intention to not waste a crisis without learning something in the process. Of all of the short-term jobs that I had over the last 18 months, I have learned something from and something with as a result of these jobs.

The most important thing in all of this is to never-ever-ever lose hope or give up. Once we give up, the show is over. The fat (opera) lady sings, the curtains come down, and that’s all folks (as Bugs Bunny would say). I learned that it’s necessary to believe; and it’s that belief that I want to speak more about. 

Believe in the possible 
After spending many, many days and hours at the Texas state unemployment office, I noticed that there were signs and slogans posted on the walls. One of the signs simply said, ‘Believe in the Possible’!

Not really understanding what that meant, it seemed to me to be a dream killer. After all, I have hopes and dreams and wants and wishes just like everyone else. I want to believe that everything is possible and that there is nothing impossible. In many cases I want to say, yes we can.

But the truth of the matter is that we can have and be and think and want anything that we want…anything that we can dream up. Yet the simple fact is that our beliefs need to be tempered… Tempered with possibilities.
Our possibilities work best when based in reality and steeped in optimism.

For instance, if I want to become an attorney, I need to have a law degree. If I can believe that I can promote myself and gain an interview – receiving a job offer to work as a corporate attorney (without a law degree), then that’s a belief in the Improbable. Yet with a law degree it is possible -- I could run for public office or even become a general counsel to a large corporation.

The same can be said for a plumber wanting to become a carpenter -- there’s going to be a disconnect. Although plumbing and carpentry are both part of the construction industry. So the belief in the possible is based upon fact, plus reality, plus optimism. Once we combine those three forces together, nothing will be impossible for us.

The main thing to think about here is that if we ever find ourselves in a position that we need to look for job or to make a major career change, note that the road or the path won't be a walk in the park. It'll take a lot of inner work, a lot of outer work, a lot of luck, a lot of faith, and a lot of sweat and tears. Yet all in all, we can make it…because we will learn to survive or die trying. 


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