Tag Archives: career change

Growing Up: Safety in Movement

Well, I’m back from Scotland, a place where they really do say “wee” for “little” and “aye” for “yes” and eat (gulp) haggis (end gulp).

One of the things I like most about living in London is how easy (and cheap) it is to leave. All of Europe – plus Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia – is just a few hours away by plane. When we first moved here, I wasn’t sure how much of these we’d actually manage to squeeze in. (Answer: more than I expected, largely due to my new found stint as a travel writer.) But even if we hadn’t ended up traveling all that much, what really appealed to me was the idea that I could leave if I wanted to. In other words, it wasn’t the actual movement that attracted me; it was the possibility of movement.

“You strike me as someone for whom freedom of movement is a defining part of who you are,” a therapist once told me. This happened, by the way, during the interview phase of finding a new therapist here in London. I didn’t end up choosing this particular person (a Jungian, as it turned out), but boy was that an hour well spent. (The kicker: because it was just an interview, she didn’t even charge me for this mind-altering insight. Can you imagine that happening in the U.S.?)

I realized, as I thought about it, that she was absolutely right. It explains why I jumped at the possibility of moving overseas. It explains why I like to change careers. And it also explains why I used to have a lot of trouble committing to long-term relationships.

This isn’t, actually, how most people approach their lives. I know lots of people whose sense of security is derived from living in the same neighborhood over time…hanging out with the same group of people into adulthood…staying with the same job or company over their career. There is something about familiarity and routine that they find reassuring and predictable and it makes them happy.

But in my case, paradoxically – and for all sorts of complicated psychological reasons that I won’t bore you with but which have, rest assured, have been amply explored elsewhere –  I actually feel safer when I know that change is on the horizon (or at least potentially so). And so I’ve come, belatedly, to embrace this part of my character rather than just assuming, as I did for so long, that I’d eventually “grow up and settle down.” Because for better or for worse, this is who I am.

Which is a long way of saying that growing up is a really complicated thing to figure out. And you just hope that every so often, you bump into someone – it might be that random Jungian you interviewed and never saw again – who helps you make sense of it. In the meantime, thank goodness I can begin planning that next trip to Munich….

*****

Speaking of expat living, I was delighted to discover, courtesy of Freakonomics, that living abroad gives expats greater creativity in problem solving.

Image: First Air 727-100 by caribb via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks: Ghostwriting

I just got back from yet another trip to the United States and as I trolled through my ever-burgeoning pile of unread RSS feeds, I came across the following post about ghostwriting on the blog Lisa Romeo Writes.

I regularly subscribe to a bunch of different blogs about freelance writing and I’ve probably seen at least twenty if not hundreds of job listings for ghost writers over the past twelve months alone. But until today, I never thought much about ghost writing as a possible supplemental source of income for myself.

The main reason – as Romeo notes in her introduction to the post with respect to her own experience – is that I’ve always been so preoccupied with finding and expanding my own voice that I never wanted to deviate any of that energy into someone else’s work. Perhaps because I’m feeling just a tiny bit more confident about my own voice lately or maybe it’s just the pinch of these credit-crunched times, but when I read this post I suddenly thought: Hey! I can do that! (Sorry, but you must indulge my less-than-closeted love of Broadway musicals while I quickly link to famous A Chorus Line number of same title…ah, to spend the afternoon singing lyrics from A Chorus Line…but I digress.)

Why do I mention this here?

Because when I read this writer’s account of how she got started ghost writing and why she enjoys it – i.e. finding a way to tell someone else’s story in a way that respects their unique voice- I realized that I’d not only be very good at this kind of thing, I’d actually enjoy it. I strongly believe that the two keys to a successful career are a. finding things that you like and b. finding things you are good at and then identifying where these two intersect (much harder than it sounds). And so, it suddenly occurred to me that I ought to give ghost writing a second chance.

Which I’ve been doing…all day long.

And it’s something we all should be doing – i.e., thinking about our talents and interests and where these intersect. It seems like every day now, I get another email from a friend whose company has just folded or who’s been let go or who’s just had a baby and is going to try and make it on her own, and a lot of them ask me for advice about how to get started on a new career path. And while I have loads to say on this topic, the main thing I always tell people is: figure out what you like and what you’re good at and that’s where you need to begin.

Because if this economy is going to continue on its current trajectory, we’re all going to need to be a heckuva lot more creative in thinking about our skill sets and the many possible directions in which we can take them while still being true to who we are. Myself included.

So if you’ve got that burning life story you’re just itching to tell and don’t trust yourself to tell it, drop me a line…I’m listening.

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