We all remember when we reached that point in our childhood when adults began to ask us the question “what do you want to be when you grow up”? Our childhood innocence would prompt such answers like “I want to be a fireman, a doctor, an astronaut or a professional athlete. As we got older, our childhood dreams would often succumb to grown up realities. With today’s tough economy and even tougher job market, stories of people having to make sacrifices when it comes to seeking employment of any kind are becoming the norm. With budget cuts and company lay-offs running rampant, people nowadays are doing whatever they have to, just to make ends meet. And with the country’s unemployment rate at a dismal 9.9 % and the underemployment rate, which measures the percentage of the workforce with high skill levels and higher education in low wage jobs is at an even higher 15.6 %. Some may feel that the forecast is looking bleak while others are checking their egos at the door and taking this opportunity to reassess their priorities and reinvent themselves while trying to find their true passion in life.
I personally had to make such a sacrifice late last year when one of my biggest clients had to drastically scale back due to a lack of work and for all intents and purposes had to close shop, laying off all of their staff & advisors, including myself. I managed to keep some of my smaller clients and was fortunate enough to land a 3-month contract with a real estate investment firm for half of what I used to make. The contract also came with an 8 am to 5 pm, Monday thru Friday schedule, something that I have not done in almost 4 years. I went from essentially being my own boss, with a schedule that allowed me to roll my eyes at such terms like “rush hour traffic” and “TGIF” to being part of the daily grind. Having to adjust to such a radical change was reminiscent of another childhood memory of starting school after having 3 months off for the summer. I pouted, stomped my feet and had to drag myself out of bed every morning for the first couple of weeks until I made myself realize how lucky I was just to have a job. I had friends who were working two jobs at 60 plus hours per week with positions in which the term “overqualified” was a staggering understatement just to make rent and put food on the table. So what the hell I was complaining about?
I began to immerse myself in my routine. I started to go to the gym before work and brown bagging my lunch. I traded in the ubiquitous accessory of a Starbucks cup for a home brewed cup of Joe in a thermos and eventually found comfort in something I used to detest. I started to use my routine to get me through the day; wanting to keep moving, whether it was forward or sideways. I found myself using movement of any kind to keep me focused and grounded. I started to look at this moment in my life as just that, a moment. They say that when we lose one of our senses that the ones that remain become stronger, similarly I felt like I had a heightened appreciation for what remained in my life rather than a yearning for what once was. I became more open to the possibility of success in a different form, a kind of success that can be so much sweeter and much more appreciated the second time around. We may never find the job from our childhood dreams, but what we may find is an opportunity to discover fulfillment in what we do, with a routine that we can approach with a childlike zeal.