Reinventing Your Job

Royal Hawaiian Feather Art

There is a narrative from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, now largely mythical, about what a career looks like: graduate from college, find a job, then put in twenty five or 30 years before retiring at 55 with a gold watch and a pension. In other words, it used to be very typical to stay at one company for a long time, maybe even your whole career. But in the intervening decades, our cultural expectations of career have changed. Having many jobs has become normal — actually, valued. And there is a general belief that once a job ceases to fully satisfy you, it’s time to get a new one. While there are times when this response is justified, sometimes I think we’re too quick to assume a new job will be the answer. Sometimes a workplace reinvention can be as or more effective. (read more…)

Learning On The Job

Eliza's Notebooks - croppedI’ve started rereading my journals by looking for today’s date one year ago, two years ago, even three, four years ago.  This means I’ve been keeping a journal, sporadically, for a long time now.  (This might also mean that I think I’m pretty interesting).  

When I first moved to San Francisco three years ago, I wrote a lot about moving, about writing in coffee shops, and the sounds of this fogged and hilled and palm-shaded city, and how they differed from the sounds of New York.  My journal was a notebook, like what you might buy in the hot still days of August, before school started, along with a pencil case and some new gel pens.  I guess, after all, that I’m in the freshman year of life. (Me, September 2012).  

(read more…)

Eat, Pray, Love Under The Tuscan Sun

Paul_Gauguin_-_Tahitian_Landscape_-_Google_Art_Project

AIEA, HI— I live where bravery and foolishness blur.

The coordinates, a Zen treehouse in Hawaii.

In June, I left Chicago and corporate success behind, indefinitely, for an island and a home I knew only through pictures. At 31, I had never taken time to process my recent divorce, and felt a strong need to examine my identity and career path.

Yes, this is Eat, Pray, Love Under The Tuscan Sun. (read more…)

On Ego and Your Work Identity

Self-portrait by Robert Mapplethorpe

A few weeks ago, I facilitated our most recent career group session on the topic of career identity.

My particular interest in career identity came from my meeting with David, the life coach, back in 2010. At the time, I was struggling with whether to stay at my job or leave to make a big career change. One thing that came up in our session was that the pleasure I took in writing when I was a child has stayed with me through adulthood. David suggested that because I considered writing essential to my interests, it was appropriate to self-identify as a writer to others. I understood his point in theory, but it was too uncomfortable in practice. I didn’t write enough qualify. In my mind, writers can’t just enjoy writing occasionally in their free time – they have written actual books, they are journalists or poets or fiction writers. Calling myself a writer felt preposterous. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. (read more…)

The Art of Starting a Career Group

La Gerbe, by Henri Matisse

Steph was once described to me by a mutual friend of ours as someone who made you feel that anything was possible. And it’s true—whether it’s undertaking a complicated recipe for chocolate babka, reupholstering chairs, or taking impromptu trips, Steph is someone who has a lot of ideas, and a big, enthusiastic smile for every one of them. It makes you want to join her in whatever it is she’s proposing. After finishing a graduate program last year in urban planning and feeling somewhat dissatisfied with the freelance consulting work she was doing, she came to me with her latest idea: a career group for women. We sat down to plan. (read more…)