Thursday, March 24, 2011

Answers to Questions

In my last post, I ended with a few questions to answer. Here we go:

Question #1: What did I learn?

One of the biggest lessons I learned from losing all of these jobs is what I am willing to allow and not allow in order to make money working.

For example, I won’t work like a dog in volcanic heat. I can’t handle the heat. I ended up with heat exhaustion from a temp job in a thermoplastics factory last year. I decided for my health, making $9 an hour wasn’t worth me dying.

I won’t take less than what I’m worth. Most employment agency managers, in order to fill the job and get paid, will tell you, “This is what the job pays.” Whether you can feed your family or pay your bills is the real question. If you have experience, training, education, then don’t just settle for what “the job pays.” You will be miserable. It’s hard to go to work day in and day out where you feel like you are getting ripped off. Your time has a dollar value. Don’t sell yourself short. Do the math and figure out what your minimum pay should be and stick to it. Don’t settle for less just to collect a paycheck.

One of the most amazing things I learned and what happened when I decided for myself when I set my boundaries for what kind of job I would do and how much I wanted to be paid. I was patient, waited it out and found a job that paid MORE than my minimum pay. And while it was hot in the summer, I wasn’t melting each day I went to work.

Question #2: Are you !@#$% nuts? Why are you telling the whole world about this?

Am I nuts? Yes. I’m a woman, therefore, I am nuts to a certain degree. But the safe method of doing the traditional route of hunting for a job isn’t working for me anymore. I find the gap between jobs growing each time I do it. It’s time to try something else, something radical. I know what I want and what I don’t want. I’m moving forward within those parameters, and I’m keeping an open mind.

Another lesson I learned is you never know what is going to come along. Sometimes you just have to see how you feel about something.

For example, I have a degree as a paralegal. The market for paralegal jobs isn’t the greatest where I live and with gas prices being what they are, I can’t afford to commute to the Cities to work. Yes, there is the train, and the bus, but I don’t know if that will work for me. I’ve done the long commute before for a job that paid more and I never saw my family. I was tired all the time and depressed.

I’ve always thought about getting some kind of job working as a paralegal at home. I was watching “Criminal Minds” last night. One of my favorite characters on the show is Garcia. She is the computer guru who finds the baddies and doing Internet research to help the profilers with their cases. I’ve always thought if I had a job like that where I could work at home (or even just go to work doing it) I would be in Heaven.

Later on, I was surfing the Web and I read an article about how hard it is for those with a criminal record to get a job, because most employers are requiring a criminal background check be done before an interview is scheduled. Something in my tiny little brain went “ding, ding, ding” and the next thing I’m checking into how to become a background investigator. Turns out, there is a program you can do at home, to be certified and it’s accredited, accepted, and recognized in my home state. I can do this from home or start my own business. Wow.

This pairs two things I love: research and the law. I can help people. I can have contact with people daily fulfilling my social butterfly needs. I can do this to make money and still pursue my writing career! No commute. No need for gas in my car.
Win, win, win!

So there is an option that came out of the clear blue and would fit with my education and experience. I never would have considered it if I had not let my mind stay open. Open to the possibilities of what I know and I’m trained to do and find a job that fits my needs, not just my bank account.

Please understand. I know I need to make money to pay my bills. The sooner the better because I’m getting cabin fever, and I’m not saying I’m above working crappy jobs to provide for my family. I’ve proven that over the last year or so. I feel life is too short and it’s time I choose bliss as well as bucks.

Why am I telling the whole world about this?

Someone out there, maybe lots of people, are grieving for the jobs they lost, the lifestyle they used to have, but while it’s been painful, it’s for the best. We are all finding the importance of people over things. Experiences matter more than status symbols, and when those experiences are with the ones we love it’s worth a cut in pay or fewer billable hours.

Nobody on this Earth, if they have a heart, will ever say they wished they had spent more time at work instead of with the ones they love. We never know how much time we have and when we spend the majority of our time working to make a living, instead of making a life, our lives get out of balance and we don’t even realize it until something terrible happens.

I don’t want to wait for something terrible to happen. I want to work, but I want to do work that matters. I want to do work that helps people, provides a service, or helps them better themselves and still provide what I need for me and my family.

I don’t think that is too much to ask, do you?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

And Now For Something...Different

I'm not a whiner. I'm not into the whole victim thing, you know, I get picked on or something happens and I feel wronged and cry in the corner while the big bullies laugh at me, until I end up punching someone in the mouth in the church parking lot...Oh, wait, that was Catholic school. Never mind. Fast forward.

Present day. Here I am, once again without a job.

Sigh. (Ok, that's technically a small whine, and it pairs well with cheddar).

I know, it sucks and I'm sure I'm not alone when I make that statement it's not just hard to GET a job, but it's even harder to KEEP one. I could probably find a few people who would say something about why I get let go: age, weight, too friendly, too aloof, too chatty, smile too much, bitchy sometimes, too slow, too fast, weight, age, blah, blah, blah. But when you ask WHY you were let go, you never get a satisfactory answer. They can't. It's against the law so they go the passive-aggressive route and say,

"It's just not working out,"

"The position you hold is no longer available,"

"We're not picking up your option,"

"We're going in a different direction"

"We're downsizing,"

"We're busy NOW, but..."

"It's not personal, it's just business," etc.

For a longer list of lame reasons, click here.

I'm starting to get a complex for crying out loud. You hear that line in your head, "It's not you, you're great. It's me. Can we still be friends?" and you wonder if this is real life or the finale of "The Bachelor" all over again.

I started running through the list of people I came in contact with to figure out who I offended, who I pissed off, and what I did in a previous life to keep losing job after job after job. You don't get a do-over if you screw up with some companies and if you are a temporary employee, then you are expendable anyway. You could just "look wrong" and they will find something, some reason, to get rid of you and not get sued. Which is why you get the above excuses.

So, to those I used to work with, if I offended, pissed off, enraged, chatted too much, smiled too much or if you just don't like fat, middle-aged women with a warped sense of humor and a positive attitude, and a killer recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies, fudge and salsa, then that's YOUR PROBLEM.

I am who I am and I'm not ashamed of who or what I am.

And what is wrong with communication?

Please. Tell me.

Most people run around typing what they want to tell someone on a small little computer keyboard in a short hand nobody but teenagers can understand instead of looking someone in the face.
Or, they actually dial a number on their "smart phones" and speaking to the other person.
We have all become so impersonal and desensitized to one another, that if you actually do something nice, like smile and ask someone how they are, they think you have an agenda.

I admit it.

I did have an agenda.

I really wanted to know how you were.
And I really was happy the sun came out and it was horrible what happened in Japan.

If you can't get to know people and talk to them and get them to talk to you, you can't do your job effectively, can you?

And if someone you are training asks (begs) for help, instruction, guidance, (a training manual) and you are in charge of training them, and act like a member of a really dysfunctional family and think "If I just keep quiet, they will stop asking about it, or distract them and keep them off the subject" or ignore their request completely (basically, setting them up to fail), then isn't that counter productive?
Training should not just stop after a few weeks. In some professions and jobs it is a continuing education. (I forgot to add, I asked too many questions.)

So, in light of this new information, I made a decision. Since I'm not making a consistent living as a temp in manufacturing, just to have a paycheck, then drastic times call for drastic (and fun) measures. 

Time to go for something completely different. Instead of getting all upset, angry, depressed, and feeling like I was the second lowest form of life on the planet, I am going to make this a different experience. I'm going to act like it's Christmas Eve and Santa is clomping those big, old black boots on my rooftop and fake it, until I make it. I'm going to make this a fun, positive, uplifting and life changing experience.

I still want to get a real print book in my hands before I collect social security (and I have a great idea from this whole experience, but nothing solid yet, still working it out).

I need a total career change.

I need a job makeover.

I need a plan.

Since it worked for me finding the love of my life, I'm going to find the work that I love that will provide for me and my family until I retire (or expire), whichever comes first.

Here's my wish list:

Laura's New Career Wish List 2011

1. Best selling published author (like NY Times Top 10), making Stephen King or James Patterson money.
2. Freelance copywriter/marketer making Bob Bly money
3. Professional Public Speaker, motivational, like Tony Robbins only not as loud. :) I have no fear of speaking in front of large crowds (Thanks, Mrs. Fliginger).
4. Work from home as a researcher, blog writer, marketer, book reviewer or movie reviewer and get paid Seth Godin money or Bob Bly money (I like Bob Bly).

6. Paralegal or Legal Secretary (I do have a degree, ladies and gentleman), for criminal or family law, $30,000 per year minimum.
7. Receptionist, or Administrative Assistant making more than $15 per hour.
8. Become a Pharmacy Technician and work at Walgreens so we can move to Florida. (Job security). 

Now. Take a deep breath and let it out.

I will be looking at this every day, planning how I'm going to make it happen, but most importantly (and those who got sucked in by "The Secret", this is the important part), I'm actually going to DO SOMETHING EVERYDAY TO MAKE IT TO MY GOALS!

Because while the lottery jackpot is up there, and I do have a few dollars left, I do know this: If you are playing with scared money, you're not gonna win. And that's not a sound investment of time or money. I would have better luck as lunch for a Great White or becoming a human lightening rod.

I can hear what you are all going to say, so lets get the arguments out of the way.

Argument #1: It's not realistic. 
Yes, it's 'out there' kind of thinking, but the old school, go to college, get a degree, get a job and work until you are 65 or older isn't what is working anymore. Companies don't want to hire people out right. They want to have their options open and they don't want to spend all the money on an employee that won't work out in the long run (insurance, work comp, taxes, etc), so they hire temps. That is not working for me any more.

I want a home. A work home.

I want someplace to show up for work everyday and make the money I need to take care of my family. If that's here at home, where I sit now, or if I have to drive, take a train or a bus, that's fine.  

But my reality is I have to work.

I have to do some kind of work that makes me feel like I accomplished something or helped someone, or my favorite, made me proud of what I did, like call your Mom and tell her proud. 

What I learned from my job loss experience before is, I need to associate with real life human beings on a daily basis. I am curious, I'm an observer and through my interactions with most of the people I have worked with, I have worked with some of the most interesting, kind, wonderful, funny people who put that annoying smile on my face day after day. Work is my playground. It's where I shine. I need to be in a place where what I do matters, even if it's just that it matters to me and it's more than "what I do for money" (which makes me feel dirty).

Argument #2: What makes you so perfect? Were you the perfect employee? 
Not by a long shot. I'm not perfect and sometimes I did argue a few cases with management about the quality of my parts, my operators, my company, my peeps, and I know you are just supposed to shut up and get back to work and for the most part I did, but in all the years I've worked I usually got along with most everyone. Most.

True, there are those who are not my biggest fan (and the feeling is mutual) like the emotional vampires that lurk in the darkest places of every work environment and cause trouble for everyone. Those are the people I try to limit contact with because it's like running in quick sand. Once they catch you, they don't let go until they tell you EVERYTHING and the next thing you know you wonder why the sun even rises and sets on it's own and begin to lose hope it ever will again and begin to think being sucked down in their misery to suffocate is not a bad way to go. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And I hate running.

Argument #3: What the hell is your point?
My point is this, if you only get one shot at this life, and you keep doing the same thing over and over and getting the same results, and the results are...not good, then you need to change your approach. I'm not going to grieve over this job loss. I'm not. I will miss the wonderful people I met and worked side by side with for the last few months, even the P.I.T.A.s, but I did learn a lot from working there and if you are losing job after job and are not at least learning something from the people and the experiences you have, then you need professional help. Seriously.

Question #1: What did I learn? 

Question #2: Are you !@#$% nuts? Why are you telling the whole world about this?

The answer to these and other questions will be answered soon.

Tune in for my next post. :)

Please feel free to leave a comment and have a fabulous week! :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2011!

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

May there always be work for your hands to do.
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine on your windowpane.
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Wishing you and yours a million and one blessings on this St. Patrick’s Day and everyday!