Job Loss, Change, and Metamorphosis

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “change” lately in relation to job loss.  By definition the noun form of the word means, “the act or instance of making or becoming different”, and there’s no question that a sudden job loss is defined by change in its truest and very unsettling meaning.  But, what’s interesting is that when you look deeper at synonyms for the word change, some other words arise.  Adjustment and modification are expected, but look at some others such as, transformation, reconstruction, and metamorphosis!  My personal favorite happens to be metamorphosis.

Many of us have experienced sudden, unpredicted job loss either first-hand or through the people we know and love.  Job loss initially invokes (and rightfully so!) shock, fear, anxiety, and perhaps even loss and grief.  For those of us that put a lot of heart and soul into our work, it can even seem more unsettling.  Maybe we didn’t want to leave our job, perhaps we’ve developed an extended family in our workplace, and maybe, like many of us, we’re unprepared for the financial stresses associated with a sudden job loss.  Perhaps our confidence is shaken, and we feel we won’t find work again.  Well, I say two things about those thoughts. One, there is ALWAYS, ALWAYS work to be done in the world, so that statement is null and void. Second, try to let go (even a little bit) of those negative thoughts and take a little bit of time to focus on yourself. 

 

Below are some tips to help navigate the transition.

Then…let’s reflect on the word metamorphosis!

 

Give yourself a little break!  Take a little bit of time to let the shock, anger, and grief pass through. Maybe it’s a week, a few weeks, or a month.  Everyone is different, but also be aware that the longer the negative thoughts continue, the longer the change process will take.  I’ve seen people still not able to get past job loss years later, yes years!  Pay attention to your feelings, as they’re expected, but if you’re focusing on the negative for too long, it may be harder to reach something positive.

 

Get your ducks in a row.  Take some time to look at the actual “data” associated with your finances. Know money-wise, just what you need (need, not want!), to get through the next 1 -3 months.  And, you may have to consider forgoing that Grande Mocha Frappuccino with a double shot of espresso for just a bit.

 

Call in the troops! Now’s the time to not be shy and to let your network of friends, family, professional and personal acquaintances help you through the transition…the same as you would do for them.  Find “the doers” in your support group and not just the ones who will wallow with you in self-pity (although there’s a little place for them too, in small doses!) It’s amazing how much people want to assist others, so let others help!  And, they might even treat you to that occasional Grande Mocha Frappuccino with a double shot of espresso!

 

Develop an action plan. Do you need a resume or CV updated? When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile? Have job search and online applications changed since the last time you looked for a position? Probably! Take some time to update your professional resources and then develop a realistic plan of how many positions you will apply for daily/weekly.  Job searching today needs to be targeted and tailored, so don’t just be willy nilly and apply for anything and everything out of panic.  Those types of job searches rarely are productive.

 

Make some time for self-care. Although the initial desire may be to avoid people, the gym or even the mirror…keep some of your daily routines.  Get up at a regular time, open the blinds, get dressed for the day (get out of those pity party jammies, as appealing as they may seem!), hit the gym, and spend some time talking to people throughout the day.  If you don’t have a defined routine because work and personal life took precedence, now may be the time to start one, and focus on YOU!  Grab a buddy and go for a hike, take that yoga or spinning class you’ve been considering.  Getting some exercise helps oxygenate the brain and you’ll think clearer.

 

Reflect on the word metamorphosis and what it could mean for you! Think about the possibilities of what “work” could look like next year at this time.  Will you return to school and be a student again?  Could you be in a whole new industry or even a different part of the country… or world!  Perhaps you’ll come to the realization that your last position was holding you back from pursuing other amazing opportunities.  I’ve seen people transform their lives in new, unexpected ways, so give yourself permission to consider the possibilities!

 

Caterpillars, those weird, furry, little creatures don’t wake up one day and say, “Yeah, I just don’t feel like changing today”.  Their change happens regardless, and the result is spectacular to say the least. Job loss is change.  Change is metamorphosis.  Metamorphosis is a spectacular process.  Face it…embrace it…and you may soon be pleasantly surprised at what emerges!

 

by Christine Demcie

Fly Fishing & The Gig Economy

If you haven’t ever taken the chance to go fishing, I highly recommend giving it a go.  Yes…it can get messy, yes…the fish can be smelly, and yes…it can get a little cold depending upon the time of year, but it’s also a truly incredible experience.  Over the years I’ve grabbed the opportunities to fish both for fun (catch and release) in Ontario, Canada and for food (dinner!) in Upstate New York and Alaska.  What I learned through these experiences is that the type of fish you’re looking to catch, determines the skill set you need to bring to the water.  For example, fishing in the turbulent waters of the Lower Niagara River in Ontario, Canada for small mouth bass where you may get a nice little fight that keeps you very actively engaged, is quite different from fishing for halibut in Homer, Alaska, where you need to rely purely on shear strength, as it’s more akin to raising a barn door off the ocean floor (biceps…don’t fail me!)  

 

I remember watching the movie, A River Runs Through It back in the 90’s, where the complexities of the characters’ lives were navigated and understood through the art of fly-fishing.  I decided then, that one day I’d get to Montana, stand in a cold river with hip waders, surrounded by beautiful nature, and try my hand at fly-fishing.  Although all fishing requires some level of ability, fly-fishing seems an art onto itself.  Knowing when to cast, where to cast, and how to cast, requires a combination of technique, timing and luck.  It also requires a zen-like, meditative patience and the ability to become “one” with your surroundings and the act itself.  It’s contemplative casting in the hopes that you’ll get “get a bite” and when that bite comes I can only imagine that it’s exhilarating, exciting and worth it.

 

Working in today’s gig economy can seem very similar to fly-fishing at times and I think there are a few takeaways to be learned from this sport/art, to assist the adventuresome souls who embark on this particular career journey.

Here’s a few tips:

 

Fish with a buddy. Fishing 101 tells us not to go it alone and it’s the same with gig work. Connect with other freelancers and like-minded professionals in your industry.  LinkedIn is a great tool to start with, and later consider joining gig groups or creating discussion forums.  These are great ways to stay engaged and keep in touch with industry trends and trendsetters.  As freelance professionals, you can bounce ideas off each other and it keeps the work way more fun in my opinion.

 

Keep your tackle box filled with various lures.  As a freelancer, you’ll find that everyday is going to require a different approach to finding work. One day, you may be at a networking event, the next day at your computer for hours on end answering referral emails.  Other days you may be writing articles about your industry or scheduling appointments with key persons who may offer additional work.  The takeaway here is to be flexible and be willing to “cast off” with different lures from time to time, to see what type of opportunity takes a nibble on the line.  And, when the nibble comes, pull back and set the hook!

 

Be patient. The fish (or clients!) may not be biting today, but tomorrow the river could be filled, so be ready!  Use slow times to catch up on record keeping, investigate new software or technology that can assist your work, or update a skill with additional training or credentials.  Downtime can also be used to update your online profiles, develop a vlog or redesign your website.  Freelance work tends to ebb and flow like the tide, so use quiet times to get organized and be ready.

 

Know when to find a new fishing spot or cast off in a different direction.  Some fishing spots just don’t cut it.  They’re either over-fished, under-stocked, or you just might get bored looking at the same scenery after awhile.  Whatever the case, don’t feel bad about trying a new location or technique.  You may have to think in new ways and try something different that’s out of your comfort zone.  Offer to present a free workshop through an area group or local Chamber of Commerce.  Start a conversation with someone in a grocery line, giving some free advice and your business card for future reference.  Add a new service to your business or focus on a niche market for awhile to see if you can gain some momentum.  Fly-fishing requires being in touch with your surroundings and using your intuition to gauge when the time is right to cast in a different direction or to wade in a little deeper.

 

Fishing isn’t for everyone, I get that.  And, neither is freelancing and/or independent contract work in the rapid growing gig economy.  But those who decide to try it out, are usually seeking the flexibility and autonomy that a traditional workplace may not offer.  There are trade-offs such as consistency and stability for the professional adventure of charting your own territory and doing things “your way”.  A steady paycheck for monetary droughts and floods.  I also imagine that most fly fishers, don’t head to the river with the number of fish in mind that they want to catch for the day.  They’re doing it for the experience of being at one with their surroundings and doing something they just plain enjoy it.  So, if you love what you do, but not necessarily where you’re doing it, or how your being told to do it, maybe you’re a fly-fisher too, just waiting to get out there, cast your line and yell “Fish On!”.

 

by Christine Demcie

 

Cat Litter For Your Career

Growing up and coming of age in both Western New York & Southern Ontario, particularly living in the country, you tend to learn a thing or two about driving in tough road conditions. Between the mud caused by excessive rain, deep snow and treacherous icy spots, figuring out the quickest and safest way to “keep moving” becomes a natural occurrence, it happens so often.  If I hadn’t learned a few tricks to navigate these inclement conditions, I would probably have either never left home from December to April, or would inevitable still be stuck somewhere, wheels spinning and never moving forward.

 

One of the tricks I learned however, is that cat litter is an incredible, practical resource to help a vehicle get moving again, particularly when the conditions get rough.  Yes…good old fashioned clay cat litter, and keeping a bucket or bag in the trunk of your car is always a good idea in the Northern climes.  Throwing a few scoops under spinning tires seemingly going nowhere, will create traction and miraculously help you get “unstuck”.  I can tell you first-hand that this trick really does work!

 

So how can cat litter help with careers? Well, we’ve all perhaps been there at one time or another…stuck.  Stuck in either a dead-end position, perhaps not making the salary we deserve, or worse yet, unfulfilled by the work we do.  Maybe we just don’t relate to our co-workers, have a supervisor who has no desire to see other potential in us, or maybe our current general working environment is just plain awful.  Hey, it unfortunately happens, but keeping a resource handy that’s akin to cat litter, can get your career moving forward again!

 

During a particular time in my career when I was contemplating other possibilities, I found myself “still” contemplating options a few years later.  Yes, that’s right…a few years later.  I was completely stuck and absorbed in contemplation mode, couldn’t seem to make a move and was “spinning my wheels”, so to speak.  Then, I decided to throw down some career cat litter!  It came in the form of a part-time job that had absolutely nothing to do with my current career.  Nothing…nada…zip.  I decided to spend some time doing something completely different and well out of my comfort zone,  and I became a catering assistant for a gourmet chef.

 

I’ll say this about my gourmet catering gig. It was hands down one of the hardest, yet most fun work I had ever done.  I met new people, learned new things and came home both completely exhausted and completely exhilarated.  I never once had a desire to completely abandon my current career for one in catering, but a wonderful thing occurred.  I started to think in new ways.  I gained a new sense of confidence achieved from learning something new and doing something completely different, and was finally ready to to move ahead.  So, I made some concrete plans and six months later, changed positions for my day job, took a leap of action, and moved my career forward.  I had finally become “unstuck” after years of contemplation.

 

So, if you feel stagnant in your current position or career, go ahead and throw down some career cat litter! Maybe it’s a part-time job,  extra per diem work, or a volunteer position.  Perhaps it’s related to your career, or perhaps it’s not. Take a class, try a new hobby, start a blog, join a new group, or perhaps freelance your talents.  Your own career cat litter may be just what you need to help you gain some traction, stop spinning your wheels, get “unstuck” and move forward!

 

by Christine Demcie

 

Hats & Work: A not-so-typical career perspective

 

You may be wondering what hats and work have to do with each other, but trust me, they can be very connected.  Hats are interesting things and serve many purposes.  They can protect, such as a sun visor or winter toque.  They can provide utility, as with a hard hat or a magician’s hat that produces astonishing surprises. They can be symbolic of an event or holiday, think of the Kentucky Derby or Santa.  Or, they can just be decorative, as is the case with ladies’ fascinators on the runway or at weddings.  They’re interesting because they’re incredibly personal.  We all may know someone who says “That’s my favorite hat!” or who proclaims “I’m not really a hat person!”  We can even make assumptions about a person, based upon the type of hat they’re wearing.  If we see a picture of a lady in the Royal Family, a baseball player, or a Native American tribal chief, we get a sense of their roles.

 

One of my favorite sayings when people ask about my own life and/or career journey is, “I have worn many hats!”, and I truly mean this statement both literally and figuratively.  My closet has a shelf filled with hats and at one time or another; I’ve worn every single one of them. Vintage hats, winter hats, sun hats, cowboy hats, baseball caps, and head scarves. Some I’ve worn because they served a distinct purpose or utility, while others were just for fun. Trying out and wearing so many different hats is also strangely symbolic of how I view the world of work.  I have worked on a farm, in an airplane, a kitchen, a salon, a storefront, an office building, a studio, a college, on the road and from home.  I have planted, cooked, served, primped, coached, sold, coordinated, administered, designed, presented and created.  Some of these jobs I’ve done simultaneously, others I’ve embarked on singularly.  I’ve met and worked with many people, travelled to many places, and tried many new things, hence, the statement; “I have worn many hats!” is quite fitting for me.   Possibly one of the biggest things that I’ve learned from this journey and wearing all of these hats, is deciding the ones I like, the ones that “fit”, and the ones I definitely don’t like or just don’t “fit”.

 

Sometimes we get stuck in a career rut.  Perhaps our daily tasks, overall job satisfaction, salary, location, or co-workers, may not “fit” us any longer.  If that’s the case, I say, “Try on a new hat!”  There’s many to choose from! What’s the worst that can happen…it doesn’t fit? Eventually goes out of style?  Needs to be replaced?  Looks silly?  If you’re not ready to commit to a completely new style of hat, that’s okay.  Maybe you just wear this new hat on the weekends…with a part-time gig that supports your interest and inquiry into a new industry.  Perhaps you try the freelance hat for a bit…doing some consulting or design work.  How about trying on a super unique, artistic hat with flair…and pursue that dream of working in theatre, or as a stand-up comic.  Maybe the hat you choose next looks more like a construction hat…and you volunteer, fixing up homes for a not-for-profit.  No one says you have to throw out your full time, standby hat, just think about adding on a weekend style hat, too.  If nothing else, trying on a new hat may be just what you need to break old habits about work that don’t serve you any longer, and discover a new way of thinking.  Perhaps, even a new career!  You’ll meet new people, learn new skills, and see new things!  Maybe you’ll decide that your own hat fits just fine afterall.  Perhaps you’ll end up like me, with a closet full of hats, insight into many industries, knowing interesting people from all walks of life, and great stories to share.

 

Now I’m not saying that my journey is the right journey or that there haven’t been twists, turns, or bumps along the road, but trying on and wearing many hats has served me well and has taken me to the place I am today.  Most importantly, it has been my journey and I wear that hat, and all of my awesome, practical, silly, unique hats with a complete sense of pride!  That said; I’ll now take off my writer’s hat and tuck it away on the shelf in my closet…until the next time I need it!

 

Christine Demcie