I’ve Found the Perfect Job for You

How many crappy jobs have you had in your lifetime? If you’re like me, your career has been a series of ups and downs, careening around the creative world, or at least around the fringes.

We’re all searching for the perfect job. One that combines the thrill of alpine skiing with the security of a parental hug. Nice timing for that right now, huh? The economy is tanking, and everyone is scared.

I think I’ve found the answer: I created my own new job. A little history…

For the past two years, I’ve worked at a company in Richmond, VA, doing public relations and marketing. Terrific company, good people, cupcakes on our birthdays… all the good stuff. About a year ago, I started volunteering with the Innsbrook Foundation. Innsbrook is a park with over 20,000 workers in 500 companies. It’s really a big small town.

I became involved with the special events committee, becoming chairman and helping the one permanent employee, Denise Kranich, run events and brainstorm ideas for new ones. As the year went by, I began spending more time planning events and concerts and working with the local media to get more exposure for the park.

Then it hit me. I remember the exact moment, too. I was in my parents’ house after my father’s funeral, having my 23rd meal of the day. I said to myself, “Self. You enjoy the Innsbrook activities more than anything else. Why not see if you can make a full-time position out of it?”

I talked with Denise and the other powers that be. They said, “Sure, just make the numbers work.” Of course, there was a little more to it than that, but it was much easier than I expected. I put together a marketing and PR plan that would provide measurable metrics for success, and I moved into Denise’s office on Monday.

Now I spend my days planning arts and folk festivals and blues concerts, working with charities to get more people involved, and brainstorming with radio stations to improve promotions of our events. In short, it’s everything I’ve always wanted to do but never got off my butt and made happen.

If you don’t absolutely love what you’re doing, here are a few things you can do to make the move:

  1. Have a no-bullshit talk with yourself. Here’s the topic: If I had one year to live, what job would make me the happiest? (Yes, I know if you have only one year to live you’d do something fun like naked skydiving, but stay with me.)
  2. Once you’ve figured out what it is you’d like to do, look around your city or town. Are people doing it? Do you know these people? Why not? Go meet them and figure out what they did to make it happen for them.
  3. Network. Get into that community and become a leader. If you have the guts to get involved wholeheartedly, you’ll be looked to for leadership. That’s how connections are made.
  4. Don’t jump until you are prepared financially. I put this in as a caveat because I would never advocate become a professional basket weaver if it means you have no way of supporting yourself or your family. (God, I sound old).
  5. Set deadlines to make things happen. If you write it down, commit the dates to paper, and keep them somewhere prominent, you can make it happen.

One truth that has been driven home for me lately is that we’re all going to be dead for a long time. So if you love what you’re doing, congratulations. If not, what can you do about it? Change is scary. Spending five years in a job you hate is scarier. Let me know if this makes sense to you. Share your stories of moving toward a fulfilling career position with me, and I’ll share them with the community (with your permission, of course). Have a great two weeks — and start moving toward your passion!

Here are some more of your survey answers from “I Have Just 12 Questions for You“:

What city that you have visited would you consider moving to if the offer were right?

Vancouver, BC, and San Francisco were the clear number one and two in this category. Other ideas included:

“Galway in Ireland. We honeymooned there in the middle of their arts festival and were treated to one of only two musical performances that have ever beaten my English reserve and caused me to applaud without inhibition (an African musical). Lovely place, lovely people, lovely food, lovely beer.” –Mark Brownlow, England

“I would move to San Diego in a New York minute.” –George Greven, Wisconsin

“Lexington, Kentucky — great food, beautiful countryside, closer to our parents in Pennsylvania and Michigan.” –Stephanie Geyer, Colorado

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