In the 14 years I’ve been a career coach I’ve midwifed over 400 grown-ups through career transitions, witnessing the tearing down and rebuilding of identities, self worth and sometimes even the will to live. To be blunt, job hunting can wreak havoc on the soul. It’s our modern equivalent of facing that saber-toothed tiger in the jungle and slaying it good, or at least until it agrees to a salary and benefits package we can live on.
When I’m in the position of giving advice for a living, I see the job hunt as a vision quest—especially if you’re still employed while you’re hunting. If you’re not racing against a clock, or a dwindling bank account, the hunt can be almost enjoyable.
But if you are in a time crunch to slay your tiger, the hunt can be one of the greatest tests of your mettle and self-awareness.
I’m in the middle of my own job hunt that is, indeed, accompanied by a ticking clock. It’s a humorous twist of the plot for this career coach. After 14 years being mostly self-employed in various iterations of ‘coach and counselor’, the Universe (disguised as challenging circumstances) is asking me to jump back into the corporate game and find my own unique tiger to slay.
My ex-husband and I made a parenting plan that allowed me to be home with our son until he finished kindergarten, letting me make motherhood a priority over my professional practice since he was born. It’s been the most rewarding job of my life, but as all mothers know, diaper changing and wiping snotty noses are not functional skills on a corporate resume.
Now that I’m the sole bread-winner for my household, I’m leaving my part-time practice for awhile to enjoy the security of an employer and a paycheck. A mother’s gotta do what a mother’s gotta do. And the irony of a career coach looking for a job is certainly not lost on me. Mostly, I’ve kept my wits about me. But I’ll freely admit it, there have been tears, perhaps a couple extra glasses of wine, and lots of deep breathing through the fantastic fears.
The challenge is that Monster.com doesn’t have a lot of postings for ‘holistic minister’ or ‘shamanic practitioner’. Maybe my aptitude as a hypnotherapist can be adapted to sales? I love to assist people through the process of dying. I love talking to senior citizens about the after-life. I love counseling over-worked mothers to find time for self-care. I adore my work. But these passions don’t typically show up as job requirements on Indeed.com
I have stubbornly stood on my soap box for years, declaring that every human being has the right to have a career that expresses their core talents and interests. And I have insisted, as God is my witness, that if you trust the Infinite Intelligence behind this Game of Life you can make a living from those passions.
But this job hunt has brought me swiftly off that soap box and onto my knees. I fear the Ghost of Hypocrisy might take up residence in my closet if I don’t do this right.
A few days ago I decided to update my resume at a coffee shop in Seattle that I used to frequent when my son was just learning to walk. I was so resistant to the task (despite having written hundreds of stellar resumes for my clients) that I had to bribe myself with a list of rewards (which included a nap and ice cream) if I finished re-writing just the first page.
As I stood in line to order my coffee, I mentally scrolled through a list of job titles I would be reluctantly willing to squeeze myself into. I wondered what the other people in the coffee line had to drudge through to earn their living. I realized my breathing was shallow and my hands were clammy, as I imagined a corporate monster in a tight suit banishing me to a sentence of tedium and soul-sucking paperwork. I inwardly screamed, “I am SO MUCH MORE than these job titles!” Visions of being trapped in a cubicle away from my son and the light of day started to tumble from my brain and constrict my throat.
Even as I silently ranted, I knew that my trust in the Divine was stronger than my run-away fears. I wondered if I could spin “rich imaginary world” into a marketable bullet point on my resume.
Something invisible reached out to hold my hand and told me to laugh at my ridiculousness. I knew I was on the Mother of All Vision Quests. I knew my future job would turn out to be better than I could have ever conjured up on my own. And I would not lose my treasured experiences and skills as “one who ministers”, no matter who I worked for. RevDeF would never die, even if my name tag was issued by Starbucks.
As it came to my turn to order, the café’s proprietor threw me a friendly “Hey, how are ya?”, as if he recognized me after a long journey away.
“I’m surprised you remember me,” I smiled. “ I haven’t been here in three or four years.”
“Of course I remember you. You’re a woman of the cloth, right?” He knew I wasn’t Catholic clergy, but the sentiment was right.
“Yes.” I smiled and held back the tears. “Yes, I am.”
That’s all I needed.
Just a little sign from the Universe that I am still me, and I always will be.
The soft truth gracefully took center stage in the theater of my mind, sweeping away my Fantasia of Fears.
I reminded myself that we are multilayered, ever-evolving beings who need the Job Hunt to expand our Being. If our priority is to stay on the fast track of spiritual growth than it’s imperative we grow up or out of our current roles from time to time. And we can either drag our resistance behind us like dead weight, or pack our bags expecting a grand adventure.
Obviously my Higher Self thought I was ready for something big and new and delightfully challenging. What if a job in Sales turned out to be fun? What if it led to a chance to reach more people than I was reaching in my private practice? Heaven forbid, I might actually make a pile of money!
As my good friend Jeff Leisawitz once reminded me, the pain of change is usually more about our resistance to change than the actual change itself.
Well then, my friends… I am ready to say ‘F*ck Resistance!’ Time to give Change a big ‘ole hug.