We don't often think of schools as being dangerous to work in. One of the more dangerous jobs is Education Assistant / Student Support Worker. Check out this article:
Photo by Bart Everson, Creative Commons licensed.
Should I _____? Fill in the blank. Go ahead, no judgment here!
When we start “shoulding” on ourselves, it is usually someone else’s voice we are hearing. We think we know the “right” answer. Yes, I should…. Fill in the blank.
Most of us have something we are ambivalent about. Should is a tension between what we want to do, and what we think we should do. It can be as simple as saying yes or no to a party invitation or as complicated as deciding to change careers. Each decision is weighted with the responsibility of accepting the consequences of a yes and the consequences of a no. Either way, there are risks. Either way, there are benefits. Often, there are no do-overs.
Almost a year ago, very close to turning 65, I was stagnating in a dead end job, enjoying biweekly paycheques, fun people to work with and not much else. Like many other baby boomers, I did not plan for retirement and that paycheque was mighty attractive. My mother’s voice said I SHOULD stay in my nice stable job and keep collecting that paycheque! How could I live on CPP and OAS? It did not bear thinking about. I could not stop thinking about it. Eventually, a plan began to form that would give me a financial cushion to explore starting a small business.
The pain of staying had become greater than the fear of being poor. I did not renew my contract when it ended. Yikes! What have I done? It was a big risk. What if my plan failed and I did not get EI? What if I could not get into the Self Employment Program? What if I got sick? What if the business failed? What if? What if? What if?
Is your head starting to hurt? Mine was!
In my case, I did get EI, I did get support through the self-employment program and I am wading my way through the first year of being in business. Sometimes it feels like a swamp. It isn’t a success story YET. The very interesting part has been the last few days when I was asked to temp for my old company while someone was on leave. It has confirmed my decision to leave. I am more alive, more challenged and more interesting than I was a year ago. Should I have stayed? Hell no!
I’m not a gardener. And yard service is not in my budget. One day in early spring I decided to lop some branches off a small tree. I tried the kitchen shears, but they took forever. Then they broke. Guess I need secateurs, so off I go to Home Depot to get secateurs. This was a new word in my vocabulary, and I felt quite full of myself asking where to find them. Being somewhat low on funds, I got the cheap ones.
They broke too. Now I’m browsing through Craigslist for used tools. There was not a lot listed, but there was one posting that looked hopeful. When I got there, the elderly gardener took the time to show me how to use them and upsold me on some other tools with patient demonstrations for my ignorance. I spent twice as much as I did at Home Depot!
Here’s the good part: the new shears were so much fun and easy to use! When my son-in-law came over to see what was going on, I was reluctant to let him try them out. It was no Tom Sawyer trick but the real joy of having a tool that worked! It took way less time and the tree was pruned in no time - I felt like a pro gardener!
A resume is a tool used in job search. There are good resumes, and there are not so good ones. Having a resume that is right for you moves you closer and more quickly to the job and/or career that you want. Take the time to learn what works before using a tool that doesn’t do the job. Or ask an expert for advice. Or invest in a resume writer. Having the right tool for the job makes all the difference.
One of the best lessons I ever had was about reactive decisions. I was in a dead-end job, with no opportunities to grow or learn. The office was small, cluttered and old, with files piled high on desks that did not match, noise from the airport a constant buzz and lots of time to surf on the net. I was bored, passing the time joking around with co-workers and researching my genealogy. The pay was better than I deserved for the skills required for the tasks of the job. In rush hour, the commute was over an hour both ways. There was nothing to recommend this job.
When an opportunity for a better position, closer to home with more money was offered, I jumped at it. The office was immaculate, everything matched and you could hear a pin drop. I also jumped when the phone rang. On the first day, the boss walked by, stopped and re-arranged the stapler on my desk. (Whaaat???) He said all documents must be kept in a drawer until I was ready to work on them. When I asked a question of my co-worker, she whispered the answer.
On day 2, I learned I would not be allowed to talk to customers until my probation was over. Suddenly I was nostalgic and longing for the laughs and camaraderie of my former job. On day 5, my old boss wooed me back with a position tailor made for me. Things were just not the same without me. Boy, was he singing my song!
Sometimes when we are feeling strangled, dried up or just plain bored, we think we know what we want. We look for the opposite of what we think is bothering us. Going polar opposite can be trouble when it is a knee jerk reaction, or a decision born from desperation. It can also be a great learning experience. I am so grateful for this lesson in self-awareness. What I now look for in researching company culture is a relaxed attitude, camaraderie and challenge. Connection is key. And messy desks with no stapler restrictions.
Dreams are not for everyone. Some of us are content to float on the surf or gentle waves of the ocean of life, looking for “normal” life - stability and security. We don’t want the big house (and mortgage), we don’t need exotic vacations in faraway places, we don’t yearn for the next thrill or adventure to get our adrenalin flowing. We want comfort, safe waters with no big waves that leave us breathless and scared of drowning.
Wait, isn’t that a dream too? Does a dream have to mean risking all for uber (no, not Uber!) success, a prestigious job, recognizable only by visible trappings of money and fame? Maybe not! Does it not count as a dream if all you want is a family that you love, good health and a game of cards occasionally with congenial friends? Does a dream of success have to be about your career?
I don't think so. If you are dreaming of a loving marriage, good kids and a strong support system, it is still a dream, just as important as dreaming of being the director of an agency that saves families from disaster. You still have to take steps to make it happen and to make it thrive once you get there.
It is the person who fails to imagine what is possible who really does not have a dream. Someone who believes dreams are for other people. Often they are suffering from depression, low self-esteem or malaise of the spirit. When we are feeling alive, our dreams come alive. Do you have a dream? Do you think dreams are not for you? I’d like to hear about your dreams, safe and not so safe.
Sandie convinced her mother at the age of two that a set of books would make her much happier than a tricycle. Then came diaries, school projects and heartfelt poetry - a writer was born. Reading and writing have been constant and faithful lovers ever since. This blog is an attempt to release some of the fleeting thoughts and crazy ideas in a place that may become another form of diary, but this time, one that talks back! Would love to hear from anyone who is inspired to rebut, dig further, validate or in any way comment on what has been written.