Working for Happiness
Jobs are hard. Sometimes you love them. Sometimes you hate them. The general consensus that seemed to be pushed my way, either verbally or as unspoken rules, was that you just work whatever job you can tolerate as long as it makes you money. Ideally, a lot of it.
Problem is that the workplace can be a great but also terrible thing. If you are working a job you love with people you enjoy working with, that's great, I am truly happy for you, but that isn't always the case. Some jobs you start with both of those, and then one day, 4–5 years later, you realize something significant has shifted. Something is wrong and you are nearly dead inside. Maybe the people you appreciated have moved positions or left the company. Maybe your boss was replaced and you no longer feel seen, heard and/or appreciated. Maybe it's all of that and more.
I've been thinking a lot about this the last couple months. I willingly quit with no recourse a little over two months ago. I had been looking to find different employment for many months, but as I prayed about it and applied to various positions, I kept getting a wait signal from God. Then suddenly as things were shifting at my work, out of nowhere, I got the walk signal...well, it was more of a leap of faith signal. It was time and, honestly, ready or not, I needed to quit.
Having all the free time on my hands, I was determined to do my research, really try to dig into what the job hunt was and what was actually important in the process. This led me to a book called What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles, a book that has been revised every year (since 1975) with updated information about the job market and the avenues for job seekers. A dear friend mentioned it and loaned me an earlier version of the book, but since the internet/digital age we live in is moving at what sometimes feels like the speed of sound, I wanted to find the most recent edition. I checked it out from the library but ended up needing to purchase my very own copy of the 2020 revision. The book is in high demand at the library.
The most intriguing and, probably, frustratingly good part about this book is that, rather than tell you a one size fits most approach to the job hunt, Richard instead insists that we must look to ourselves first and foremost if we are to find our "dream" job. Or, at the very least, the best possible fit. I'm still working through the exercises laid out in the book, but so far I've found out the things I like in a workplace and coworkers. I'm stuck on writing 7 stories about myself to dissect for transferrable skills...I honestly loathe to write most days, but even worse is writing specific things about myself that need to correlate to data. God forbid I actually learn things about myself.
The aversion to writing is partly the reason I am writing a blog post every week. Maybe it will help and maybe I will be able to move forward with the What Color is Your Parachute method. Time will tell. I've always been great at procrastination...
For the time being I am reading a book called The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People by Carol Eikleberry with Carrie Pinsky. It was referenced in Bolles' What Color is Your Parachute, and, being a creative and, by my estimation, an unconventional person, I found the concept quite interesting. This is where I came upon something that should have occurred to me, but I needed to read it in someone else's book for it to sink in. Your workplace is super important, sometimes more so for creatives. I spent a lot of the last year or so of my last job trying to fix workplace issues with solutions at home or in my personal life. They helped, but in the end the dissatisfaction always came back. I mean, you spend the majority of your time at work; you'd best like the place, people, and management.
One of the most profound and useful pieces of information I've picked up in this phase of job hunting research is the Holland code. The Holland theory is touched on in both What Color is Your Parachute and The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People. The Holland code is a three-letter code that touches on your top three career/personality traits and is used to help many people find work that better fits their needs. I was curious, so I figured out what mine was (ACS, Artistic, Conventional, Social), and it really explained a lot...a lot. Artistic types often shun rules and regulations while Conventional types are comforted and inspired by them. And here I am with both in my code...
For years I've always felt both artistic and logical. Two things that are often seen as direct opposites. It made it really hard to even label myself as a creative person. I often struggle with imposter syndrome because of this dichotomy and the thoughts it provokes from my inner critic. But now I know the struggle is real and I am trying to learn how to best balance both sides of myself.
I've thought back to the jobs where I was most happy and most content. All of them were positions that allowed me to do both artistic and conventional things. For example, working as a Graphic Designer at a small print shop is often much more than designing; you run the printer, cut the items to size, and talk to customers, both on the phone and in person. There were always many different things to do. Creativity within guidelines.
The most exciting thing, recently, is my new job. Just started this week. I'm not sure I would have considered working as a typesetter if I hadn't been sorting through all of this. Typesetting is, technically, something I've done before, I do the interior layouts for all of my husband's books, but it wasn't something that I was necessarily looking for. Thing is that I am finding it to be a really good fit for my artistic and conventional sides.
Happiness takes work and research. I'd say it's super important to always be looking to improve yourself, but, as always, you need to cut yourself slack. Growth and perseverance are great, but there will always be times when you don't know which way is the right way, and that is OK. Real happiness is not money or fame. I believe happiness is loving yourself for who you are and always learning and speaking your truth. Sometimes it will surprise you.