Repackaging – to the future, not the past

Two friends gave me some advice today. Different friends, different conversations, but both pieces of advice were good.

I was laid off a week ago from my interior design job and the prospects of finding a similar job in this economy are dim, seriously dim. As a result, I kind of gave up on getting a design job and spent the week looking to my past asking: What knowledge and skills do I have? How can I repackage those skills into a new job? I found a wealth of experience in that past – lawyer, writer, policy wonk – and completed a number of applications for jobs that would use those skills. But it wasn’t sitting right and I kept stumbling against the fact that those past experiences were past for a reason – I just didn’t love the work.

The first friend said: Don’t accept a job you know you’ll hate just to get the income. You can do better; you’re worth much more.

The second friend said: Don’t think about repackaging your past, think about repackaging your future. Figure out how to do what you really love to do.

I really needed to hear the first bit of advice. I’m anxious when I’m not in control and am strongly inclined to jump into the first thing I’m offered just to be employed, just to feel safe. I’m not afraid of starting over, but don’t always remember that I have a lot more to offer than entry level.

But it was the second piece of advice that made me think. My friend asked: What do I really love to do? Well, the answer is design – it’s what I’m passionate about, what I can do for hours without getting bored or distracted. Approaching my future by retreating to the past sure as heck isn’t going to get me closer to this and is, in fact, very likely to prevent me from doing it at all.

Maybe I still need to have my resume in order and write endless cover letters, but maybe I can explore a more forward-looking approach as well. This is the next challenge.

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