Friday, January 29, 2010

"So What Do You Do All Day?"

Since I've started this process, I get that question a lot. A whole lot.

One of the hardest things about my transition so far has been figuring out how to structure my time. There are so many things that I'd like to do or need to do, and it's amazing how the days really do fly by. I figure time must move quickly because I am somewhat relaxed and to some degree maybe remotely enjoying myself? Pssshhh..NOT!

If anything I FEEL like I should be fitting EVERYTHING into my day. Like what? Well....

1. I should be making gourmet meals every night - That can be hard because Jim is never really home, and it's really just me. I did make a slammin' Chickpea and Tomato Risotto last night and Jim was actually home to eat it so that should count for something.

2. I should be blogging A WHOLE LOT MORE - Sorry for the self-flagellation, but I have not been doing such a great job keeping up with multiple blog obligations. I think I feel a lot of pressure to make sure that this is blog is good. I'd rather give you my best than nothing at all, but it seems that I'm getting too good at giving you nothing at all. *Hangs head in shame*

3. My home should be sparkling clean - I should be doing a whole bunch of chores and home projects that I have been holding off on but have not followed through like cleaning baseboards and sifting through old magazines and bills. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

4. Indulging in hobbies - Apparently, I am supposed to actually be enjoying my "time off." Right now in January, it's way too cold to enjoy much of anything, but I know that I need to at least find a way to fit in the things that I didn't do while I was traveling like a mad person. Some people have told me that I should go on a vacation. Ha! I wish!

What do I actually do everyday?

1. I spend time in prayer and reflection - I have not done a very good job this week, but I think this should be an integral part of my day. If my mind ain't right, this process will not be easy.

2. I read career related books - I've only gotten through What Color is Your Parachute? 2010 in its entirety, but I am also reading The Unhappy Lawyer in case you're wondering.

3. I contact people to meet with/talk to about what they do - setting up the "informational interview"....need I say more?

4. I talk to people who do things that I am interested in or think I may be interested in - This is usually anything from a phone call like the one I had this morning to a lunch meeting I had last week. One was with someone I've known in a professional setting. Another was with someone that I've never met, a friend of a friend. One was about real estate development, and the other was about political consulting, advocacy and media relations. Many times my conversations spark ideas about things and make me want to learn more about a particular type of job, person or organization, which leads me to ....

5. RESEARCH and more research - Perhaps it's an excuse to spend my days on the internet, but researching takes up quite a bit of time. I've already taken a look at jobs and industries that I know nothing about (big PR agency account executive? Whaaa?!!) trying to find out about salaries, corporate culture, qualities that employers are searching for, etc. This takes up time, but I feel like I've learned so much. Even if I never become an account executive at a PR firm or someone who specializes in social media, at least I KNOW what they do. That's knowledge is empowering to me.

6. I make sure that my home looks somewhat presentable - Are you seeing a theme here?

Yep. That's it for now. At some point I hope that what I should be doing and what I actually am doing will actually mesh. I try to remind myself that I've only been doing this for a month, but then that kinda reminds me of the fact that "DAMN! I've been doing this for a month!"

Is there anything that I should be doing that I am not currently? What are other strategies, tasks, projects or books would you recommend for me?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Neither Here Nor There

One of the hardest things about working through this career change/transition is trying to figure out my place in the work world. I was very lucky last time around to have my former boss see some type of potential in me when she hired me. That's how I ended up finding a job in something that I had never done before. I came in at a level that was appropriate for me. While definitely a reduction in pay there wasn't such a big one in terms of the level of the job itself.

I've been wondering how to deal with this issue of where I fit in again. I don't feel so inclined to start a job requiring me to start from scratch, but I also know that I don't have experience in a whole lotta not much else. I know that I've got a lot to offer, but I'm just not sure who would be interested in me and where they'd want want me to fit into their organization.

The idea of working my way up from the bottom doesn't really appeal to me. I feel like I've paid my dues already. Who wants to pay dues in their 30's? I've already made stacks and stacks of copies, answered someone else's phone, lugged heavy boxes, alphabetized the randomest documents (I've also cleaned bathrooms and served cafeteria food. Those You name, and I've done it. The idea of going to that place again makes me want to cringe. Perhapsbeing a housewife wouldn't be a bad thing after all? Another big red flag for me: Who wants to pay dues at the same time as starting a family (No, Jim and I are not there yet; but hey, it won't be too far down the pike. That's for another post.)?

Now by saying this, does that demonstrate that I really don't WANT to make the changes in my career that I really need? Am I too LAZY or too much of a prima donna to want to work my way to the top? I read this story last week about a man who worked his way up from the mail room at 65 and retired at 85. At 85, I want to be on a beach sipping some kind of tropical juice, watching my grankids play, and hopefully still wearing a bikini (dare to dream, right?). Is this the way that my career transition has to happen this time around?

I'd love to hear stories about people who have started all over career wise in their 30's and 40's, and how it's worked out for them. Do you know anyone like this?

Thursday, January 14, 2010


That is an awful title to a blog post about a person who is exploring life and career issues, but I am going to say that I HATE networking. I always have. It's not that I hate people. I'm the exact opposite. I LOVE people. I love talking to people, or I should say that I can talk to just about anyone about anything. I don't have a fear of people, BUT when I've got to ask them for something that's a whole other topic.

I've often wondered where this all came from. I will say that while I am a prety personable person I also keep to myself a lot. The only child in me can spend hours by myself if necessary. I've also had some pretty crazy experiences growing up where I was pretty isolated in school. You know the show "Gossip Girl." Well, I went to a less over the top version of that place (hey it was the early 90's in one dressed like that), except I was the poor minority kid who lived in the outer boroughs with a really strict immigrant mother. There is a clearly not a character like THAT on "Gossip Girl".

Anyway, I don't know if some of my experience there shaped who I am now in how I relate to people. I knew early on that I had to make it there by myself. I wasn't leaving with a gaggle of life-long friends. I was leaving with a diploma from a great high school. The less I felt connected to my classmates the harder I worked to make sure that I got good grades, was involved in school activities and ultimately went on to a good college. I guess I separated my achievement from the need for developing relationships. Why bother if you feel that people are going to reject you anyway?

Through the years, I've been awful about keeping in touch with many people both personally and professionally although if I've known you for years, that means that I REALLY, REALLY like you. :) Unfortunately, that now means that I have a very disjointed network. Having to break out of my anti-networking shell/rut is hard. I hate depending on other people. I hate feeling like I am begging. I hate waiting for someone to e-mail or call me back. It sucks. That being said, networking is a major part of this transition for me. I won't be able to learn more about what it's like to be Oprah or a real estate developer or much of anything else without meeting new people. Time to woman up. More importantly, it's time to teach myself that I can't survive, move forward or succeed without people.

Anyway, I would love to hear from people who have gotten to be better networkers over the years. If you've got any advice, please let me know.

Monday, January 11, 2010

On Being a Housewife

Yes. I am now a housewife, and I really don't know how to feel about it. I don't mean to disrespect women who don't work, and I am most definitely not demeaning Stay-at-home Moms (SAHMs), the unsung heroes of the American workforce. I barely feel like I get much done here during the day much less having to worry about dealing with a household AND little kiddies who demand your time, attention and love. SAHMs, my hats off to you! No, I mean I have now become a wife who stays home and doesn't contribute financially to the household. As much as this may be a new phenomenon, it just isn't me. And yes, it's judgmental.

I guess I have a hard time with this primarily because I feel pretty strongly about contributing to our household. Granted my work hiatus/job search is NOT a permanent solution, but it doesn't blunt my feeling of thinking I am freeloader. I know that I'm not somewhere deep inside, but I have always even the type of person who has worked for whatever I have in life no matter how small it is. I am sure many people would cut their eyes at me because I have the "luxury" of taking the time to try to figure out what I am doing professionally, butI have major guilt. I want to contribute financially to our household, and I want to work.

I've been trying to figure out where this comes from. Jim was out of work last year due to his layoff, and I don't think he felt the way I do. I will say there is a difference between actively CHOOSING to leave a job and being told to. It wasn't Jim's choice to cut off his income, but it was mine. Also let's be real here: Jim's current career/job is much more lucrative than my last job. Much more. For my last job, I definitely took a pay cut to change careers (The idea of taking another one makes want to cry, but THAT is for another post). Regardless of what happened to Jim last year, we knew we could make it because he'd saved so much before we got married not because of my job. I think I want that for myself too. I want to know that regardless of whatever happens to Jim or his salary that I can sustain us and any little versions of me or Jim that will come along.

I can't get that feeling being a housewife.

That being said, I've only been out of work for week, so maybe I need to calm down.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Faith..... the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.

Yep. I DID IT! I've decided to make the biggest, most craziest step in my professional career. I quit my job. After changing my mind every minute for a good month I decided to leave. In a way this is a complete act of faith for me. I thought to myself that I've never totally explored what I've wanted to do in an in-depth way. I've always done what was safe and taken jobs that came first just because they were offered. This time around I hope that won't be the case.

I see this as a way to let God/Allah/the Universe (or whatever you believe in) lead me to where I should be. Hopefully a path will unfold for me and God will close the doors and open the doors necessary for me to FINALLY figure out what the heck I should be doing with myself. Now whether I am completely at peace is a whole other story. When you're seeing media accounts of people who a suffering because they were laid off, I feel like a self-indulgent fool for doing this. There are many people who would love my job, no? (Although if you had my former boss, probably not)

Telling my boss was easier than I thought. I was sooooo nervous to track her down to tell her especially when I work in a place with no walls and no privacy. Then I learned a week later why she barely flinched when I told her. She was leaving herself. That's right. It was announced a few days that she was getting a promotion and moving to a different city to head a different work group. Even though I tried, I actually didn't see her on my last day. I guess I can't expect much from someone who was not interested in my growth and development, right? I think in some ways, it was her "F--- you" to me. To leave a job with nothing lined up is a public but silent way of saying that you're not happy. Maybe she knew that people would think something about her management skills (or lack thereof) at hearing me leave. Who knows?! I think she just didn't care.

I've been neglecting this blog because it overwhelms me, but I will keep trying to tell my story on a daily basis or as much as I can muster. I know I can't be the only person out there this crazy. :)