Friday, August 5, 2011

Reinventing Yourself While Jobhunting

There’s not much fun to be had while searching for a job. It’s mostly demoralizing and easily fits in that category of “what I hate about being a grown-up.” However, as I have begun my own search for viable employment, I have discovered there is at least one thing that is actually interesting about the process. A person searching for a job has the luxury of considering the notion of reinventing herself.

Granted, this luxury only means something if the seeker doesn’t have to find a job right away. When you’re desperate to find work, have unpaid bills and notices of a dwindling bank account stacked on your kitchen table, there’s no luxury in job hunting at all. Or if you hate your present job and feel strongly compelled to get out of it and need to find work somewhere else right away, there’s no luxury or enjoyment in that search either. I write only of that employment-seeking process where you need to find work but there’s no real hurry and no real panic that you’re going to die if you have to stay at the present place of employment one more day. I’ve been in both spots; there’s nothing meaningful or interesting or luxurious about either of those occasions. However, when there is no desperation involved, thinking about reinventing yourself, finding jobs outside your work experience or educational venue, can actually be energizing and fun.

A friend of mine had been a pastor all of his professional life. He had progressed from church to church and never looked back, never thought of doing anything other than what he had been trained and experienced in doing. And then, things changed for him. A lot. He broke ties with the church and with his role in ministry. And when that happens, what’s a person to do but reinvent himself?

A few weeks back we talked about this experience. We compared notes on the various occupations we had considered for ourselves. As I have found myself in similar circumstances I thought I might enjoy going back to school for a career in the health care field or maybe work in the hospitality industry. My friend, however, had bigger plans. He considered becoming a helicopter pilot. From pulpit to cockpit, he is a dreamer, with no inhibitions about what he might try, who he might become.
When he almost hurt himself using a power-equipped gardening tool, unable to work the levers and gears, his wife, upon finding out about his new dream of piloting, quickly reminded him that flying a helicopter had certain requirements, the most notable being able to operate machinery. She quickly helped him learn that professional dream was not a very productive one. He moved on.

The thing about reinvention of oneself is that it is not restricted. When you’re in the dreaming stage, you get to think about all the things that interest you. You get to remember your childhood fantasies of being a cowboy or movie star. You get to reminisce about the things that you used to think were most important, things that you were going to do, ideas you had about who you would become; and you get to pull all those thoughts and dreams and ideas out again and think about them. “Maybe I can still be an acrobat in the circus or discover a cure for cancer or drive a dump truck. Maybe I can open my own candy store or build a time machine or teach in a foreign country. Maybe I can fly a helicopter.”

All that dreaming and remembering and considering might not lead to a new job; it might not lead to anything that can be measured or quantified. But just like my friend who thought he’d make a fine pilot and recaptured the dreams he had as a little boy, it made him happy. It gave him a few days of delight. And let’s face it, when you’re seeking employment, when you need to jump ship or make a move, there’s nothing wrong with a few days of delight. That’s a real luxury in the world of trying to find a job.