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Reentering the Workforce – Part 2

Rachel Alexander June 11, 2014

In the last blog, we looked at re-entering the workforce with a focus on work being an articulation of Self. If we expand this view to include not only what one wants to contribute or feels called upon to express, but what one wants to experience and enjoy, we broaden our notion of what work can help us access.

That is, getting a job because you need to go back to work now, is hardly incentivizing. It can be helpful to focus on what the end goals of working are.

Goals may include:

  • Freedom – I want to expand my universe and have options that would be unavailable to me if I remain working within the home or financially dependent on another.

  • Social Opportunities  – I’d love to meet others engaged in productive endeavors.

  • Growth -Introducing experiences and exploring new environments could provide the opportunity to learn more about others and also oneself – observing how one resonates or rejects different stimuli can be expansive and introspective at once.

  • Financial Enrichment -I want to be able to put aside $4,000, because I really want to take that trip I’ve been thinking about. More specifically, working out a budget based on what is desired(rather than solely on what is needed) can be useful in focusing on what kind of income and thus job is needed, and what may be helpful on a temporary basis.

God is in the details.*

The power of a clearly defined aim is paramount. If I know I need $1500 within six weeks in order to pay my share of a beach house rental at the shore in August, I may be willing to consider multiple opportunities to earn this amount, including things I would never envision myself doing for an extended period (perhaps babysitting, dog walking, filling in for someone at the farmer’s market, etc.)

Without a clear incentive, I may scoff at the very notion of doing these tasks and inadvertently imagine that if I engage in such employment I have automatically become a professional dog walker, babysitter or farmer’s market clerk. Over-identifying with employment can be avoided by creating goals that are more important than the tasks required to reach them.

I have a dear friend who has been grappling with being unemployed since October. He is so entrenched in the analysis of the meaning of the work he chooses to do at this stage of his life and how that reflects on him, that he has done virtually nothing to secure any temporary work whatsoever.

It would be considerably liberating if he would:

  1. Distinguish between his value and his work.

  2. Embrace the notion that he can take a particular job without adopting it as his identity, or committing to performing it for the remainder of his life

He need not complete his analysis regarding the perfect employment before taking some helpful action. For example, taking a temporary job to generate a bit of income may improve the situation without fully resolving it. In fact, taking any position, however imperfect, may provide important data and avail him of opportunities inaccessible if he resides solely in his own head!

I suggest that a less paralyzing approach can be this: designing your goals first, and then implementing employment as a means of accomplishing those goals. In this way, work of any and every kind can serve in furtherance and support of your well-being and the creation of the life you desire.

*Attributed to either architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), art historian Aby Warburg (1866-1929), or author Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880).