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9 April

Trinity church from Wall Street.Image via Wikipedia

On Monday, I wrote about the four careers I've had since leaving university and listed what I loved about each one. At the end of the post I promised to return to do the same excercise, only this time to focus on what I didn't like about each job. The point of the excercise is not to be masochistic, but through this exploration of each position to figure out what I want my next job to look like (or not), because quite honestly, I'd like to get it right this time, to design a career that fits me rather than me trying to fit into it.

So, let's re-visit my work history and today we'll focus on what didn't work for me.

Career #1: Investment Banking in New York: This started out as a dream career, I was working on Wall Street in Corporate Finance for a company that rewarded my hard work with advancement and increased responsibility. Downside: after eight years in New York I realized I was not interested in being in a 'New York frame of mind' and longed for open space, more nature, fewer people, and beautiful surroundings. I loved working in the financial industry, but would have preferred to be on the 'buy-side' in portfolio management. Lesson learned, I really don't want to work in a big urban setting again. Also, next time I want to work on the buy-side rather than the sell-side.

Career #2: The Interim Years:Helping John with the early days of his business, working in a bookstore, writing a novel. My random assortment of jobs in the Interim Years between leaving New York and going overseas. Upside recap: loved working with entrepreneurs, loved working with books, loved writing and working alone from home. Downside: To work in a bookstore as a career, I'd have to own it in order to make enough money to call it a career. This is an option and I actually wrote a business plan as part of my MBA for starting a bookstore. Downside: with the advent of Amazon, and now Amazon's Kindle, yet another nail has been driven into the coffin of the independent bookstore. My all-time favorite career, is/was writing from home. It included all of my favorite components in a career, working independently, creatively, setting my own schedule, being able to do it from anywhere, performance based rewards. Love it. Downside: I haven't figured out how to get paid for doing my favorite thing, as of yet, no one wants to buy my books!

Career #3: Teaching Overseas: Loved the children, loved the long holidays, and the opportunity for international travel. Downside: because all teacher salaries are fixed according to tenure, there was no reward incentives for extra hours, extra projects, innovations, all of which I enjoyed doing. After a while, it simply became frustrating to know that no matter what I did to excel my financial compensation would follow the guidelines written on a piece of paper. Downside: no performance based pay.

Career #4: Commercial Real Estate: My second job in sales, my first with commission-only pay.I have enjoyed the freedom of commercial real estate, I make my own hours and can take as much vacation time as I want and still get work done from my computer, I am working with entrepreneurs and investors, working through a deal from start to closing is fulfilling. Downside: I do not have the classic salesman's personality that, bottom line, drives success in this career. I am an introvert, not the best personality trait for an extrovert driven environment. And while I enjoyed the freedom of a commission only pay environment, when deals dry up it can get to be nerve wracking.

Here's what I don't want in a career: corporate status or identity, I don't need my name on a business card or a title that identifies my progress. I have zero desire to ever put on a suit or wear pantyhose EVER again. No selling, unless it's one of my books!

On the other hand, what I do want is a career that feels like me. Since career search has been on my mind lately at my other blog, I wrote this week's post on finding joy in our lives. My experience has been that the most joyful people I know have found careers that are also their 'calling' or purpose in life. My desire to find the same for myself was in fact the greatest impetus for leaving New York. I remember walking home across the Brooklyn bridge one afternoon and thinking that I wanted what my brother and mother had, careers that they loved. All these years later, I believe I've found my purpose in writing, however, if I can't get paid for doing it, then I must find an alternative career and what should that be? That's what I'm searching for now. How to get paid for doing what I love.

My greatest fear is that I'm setting myself up for failure. That I have chosen Lake Tahoe, a place that I would love to live, but which is more expensive than other places. That I have chosen writing, which I'm not being paid for as that which I want to call a career. And that in the end, I will have to settle for second best, not Lake Tahoe, but Colorado or Montana, and not writing but another job in finance or sales. Or maybe there is a middle ground, a job involving books, or a job working from home...and maybe not in Tahoe, but in the mountains. The question is how many compromises will it take, how close can I get to my ultimate goal, and can I be as happy with a life in the middle ground? The people that I admire most in life are those who have found their passion, their purpose, and are living it. I have to figure out how to achieve the same in my own life (or am I asking too much?), because if I don't I will feel that I have not lived a well-lived life.

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LarramieG said…
Why are you afraid you'll fail? In fact, why are you thinking like that? Don't tempt the self-fulfilling prophecy principle!

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