Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Something to Believe In

Forgive me for potentially alluding to a cheesy ballad from glam rock days, but it did seem like a catchy title for today. After reading this, you could say that I might have gone with a more noteworthy song from the same era, but now to the point: We all have the potential to live lives with passion and purpose so strong that we would rather die than relinquish what we live for.

The inspiration comes from Joan of Arc:

"One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.”

In an age of cynicism and people compromising themselves, this quote carries a timeless charisma. How are you spending each day? Are you doing the work that allows you to express your unique talents? Are you staying true to yourself and your convictions? Think of the passion and sense of purpose found in all heroic figures and realize that you too can make your life that meaningful. Strive for this and overcome the fears that hold you back. We all have the potential to live exciting and meaningful lives, so do all you can to live up to it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Practicing What I Preach

I have been holding out on making an announcement, as I know it is only prudent not to count chickens before they are hatched. But next week, I will be leaving a most gratifying job, and moving on to a new challenge.

Though the title of this blog reflects my current job title as Career Counselor, as well as my master's degree specialization, my new title will be Vocational Evaluator. I will still be offering what I feel I do best, which is to provide career counseling services, but I will also be using a lot more assessments as a main tool for evaluating people who need assistance reincorporating themselves back into the workforce. This was a difficult transition, as the job I am leaving has been spectacular. So why would I leave a job that I absolutely love?

Truthfully, I have never provided counseling service to people who love their jobs. People typically come to career counselors for assistance finding jobs or getting out of jobs that they do not like. Still, whenever I meet with people, it is not uncommon for me to tell them that their job search should never end. One of the biggest career development follies is that once people find something, they then allow themselves to get comfortable and wait until conditions are less than favorable before they make their next move. Though you may be one of the few that lands into something that exists and continues to be fulfilling throughout your career lifetime, most people should stay focused on their professional development and be ready to leave their positions at any given moment. Savvy professionals must vigilantly stay ahead of the curve by always looking for the next step--and always being ready for that matter. As John Wooden said (to my recollection): When opportunity strikes, it is already too late.

When was the last time you updated your resume? Do you maintain your network contacts and/or are building up new ones? Do you know what the present job market looks like? If the work in your industry dried up or got over saturated, would you know what you might transition to--and would you be prepared? These questions might frighten you, but I assure you they are much more frightening when the ground you are standing on gets pulled from under your feet.

I am actually glad I was prepared and decided to make my move. This move ended up being fortuitous indeed. One week after I gave my notice, my organization had its annual meeting. Our nonprofit fundraising had been impacted by the economy, and they are going to have to make major budget cuts, including possible layoffs. Though I think my position would have been secured if I stayed, it is nice knowing that I will not have to deal with that insecurity, and I will also escape the overall impact this will have on the organizational workload and morale.

I did not see that coming, but my proactivity prevented me from being blindsided, and now I will move to a position in an organization that is growing, and will geometrically increase my knowledge of career assessments, among other things.

If you love your job, do show that you are eager to stay. But, for your own sake always be ready to go. Are you ready?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Commuting for a Living

I bought a new car today--an extravagant practice my prudent self tries to avoid for at least 10 years. It's fun, but let's face it: it's a horrible investment and most dealers are not very kind at all, and going through this process is especially challenging for a guile-free idealist like myself.

My old car was less than 6 years old and had just over 70K miles on it. It ran great, and made a fantastic family car. So why did I rush to the dealer to get rid of my vehicle? For the very same reason the masses of commuters are doing the same thing. It's all about the price of gas.

See, my old vehicle was a Jeep Grand Cherokee. A year ago, I could have sold it for over $10,000. Today, I was thankful I could trade it in for half that. Nobody is buying SUV's anymore, unless they are wealthy enough to care less about it. The opposite trend is also apparent. Looking for a hybrid car? Expect to pay the same amount you would for a mid-level luxury vehicle if you are even able to find one at a dealership.

But here's the sad truth, though my new car is not a hybrid, it still gets nearly twice the mileage of my Jeep, and where gas prices are now, most of my car payments will be contained by the amount I have saved in gas. If gas prices go up yet more (and everyone says they will), then I might have my entire payment covered by what I save, so I wasted no time to make this proactive move.

Aside from making the desperate move I made today, commuters are dealing with gas prices in a variety of ways. Take a look at Alexandra Levit's Blog for some additional ways that my fellow commuters are getting by.

By the way, I have made progress dealing with car dealers, thanks to I was able to get my car at the price I wanted, and was hardly hassled in the process.