Where are you going?
With the places life has taken me to in 2016, I’m on the threshold of a new life.
I have been reflecting on my career development. I have recently experimented and explored independent human services consulting. I set out on that journey through freelance writing as the first step toward that big mission.
Freelance writing is not only more tenable, it is also a reasonable starting point. This is what my journey, as one of the 35% of the U.S. population who is self-employed, has made clear to me.
I’ll get to why that makes sense in a moment.
You’re not going alone, are you?
Take a jacket.
I sure am taking a jacket. It’s appreciative change―layering for success, actually. One thing that had been missing on my journey was a mentor or a coach. I changed that recently.
I sure have been changing―what I do, how I do it, what I think, what I say, and how I say it. I have grown as a content and copywriter. I’ve learned a ton about a variety of topics. These include web content, blog writing, social media marketing, networking, ebooks, self-publishing, and more.
My writing has improved. My resume has improved, too, both the content and the layout―and the targets I’m aiming at are sharp.
And then I connected with a coach. There are differences between a counselor and a coach. My coach has blurred the distinctions and the impact has been invaluable.
As a result, I have recently been thinking a great deal about the theories originated by Anne Roe. My thoughts focused on transtheoretical, or stages of change models, of career counseling.
Anne Roe’s theories are reminiscent of Murray Bowen’s. Like Bowen, Roe focuses on the importance of early childhood experiences and parent-child relationships.
Oh, Pete…do we have to go that far back?
Yeah. I’m a developmentalist by education and an advocate of developmental psychology. I urge you to stay with me. This is going to be good.
Anne Roe believes that we likely choose a work-life that reflects the psychology of the home we grew up in.
Integrative life planning and cognitive theories of career counseling are important. In my experience, Roe is less complicated and way more interesting.
Roe comes at coaching with a needs approach. She takes a person-oriented focus. This approach helps in understanding coaching clients and their relationships with family. The effects of those relationships are the key.
Roe’s person-oriented focus gives the coach an understanding of career direction. And also an understanding of the obstacles the client is having difficulty with. Where the client is stuck, and which solutions to provide are an important part of the package.
One cannot coach an individual one does not know. Roe encourages the use of personality theories to learn more about the client. The idea is to throw light onto the client’s assumptions about choice and why they need to make better ones.
The right coach will impart important lessons. Some of these will be about how choices affect all areas of life, not just career trajectory. To know a client, you have to understand the choices she has made and know her pain.
Informed choices and learning to make quality choices are important skills to learn. A coach will help with that. And that’s one of the ways pain gets relieved.
One overlooked area is the gratifications which work can offer. I chose freelance writing first as I grow toward consulting because I love writing. I mean I really love writing.
I was reading a blog post by a self-publishing guru. He suggested writers get into the habit of writing 1000 words a day. A DAY! I thought, brah, I can write 1000 words in 2 hours.
And here’s a bit of news: personal evolution and growth include career development, too. It’s a process that takes place over the entire life span. Life and work stop for no one.
The Landscape of Career Opportunity
From 1760 to 1840, machines changed people’s way of life as well as their methods of manufacture. The 100 years that followed, saw the United States as the major economic and cultural power in the world.
1973-1975 marked the end of the great post-World War II economic boom. The US crept into a post-industrial economy. Recently, we have experienced the post-internet economy. Today we are living through the beginnings of the post-labor economy.
In an era where there is no longer a market for labor, the US is experiencing limits to growth. An end to growth, many believe, will lead to the eventual end of full employment. Some experts say we need is a new social and political paradigm. Practical, profitable jobs, they claim, will stop in due course.
The fact remains that everybody deserves dignity. What we need is to replace wealth with efficiency. We need to replace stuff with education. We need to replace welfare with an inclusive guaranteed income. We need to replace bureaucrats with counselors, corporation with community.
Economic change will force the hand of cultural change. And so, this is the age of the entrepreneur.
Changes in work and changes in the economy are inextricably linked. In 2008-2009, many of us learned this first hand. Before I was ready to make a career transition, the economy tanked.
The change was due to the $15,000 gap between my salary and the salary of my nearest colleague. . . on the food chain, pun intended. That was the strongest factor in the big bub-bye to Pete of ’09.
Having a college degree helped. I could transition from a culinary career to mental health services. It took a great deal of time to get a new job in a new field.
One interview that shortly followed was for a bachelor’s level substance abuse counselor. The experience made it clear how tough it has gotten. The correction’s department in my state was looking to hire a Master’s level clinician. They could get away with paying entry level wages to a better-qualified candidate.
I started thinking about making the transformation from freelancer to consultant. I still believe that’s my best bet.
In other sectors of the job market, automation is taking jobs for which there is no pay scale. The present time belongs to hackers and coders. The future, to associate’s degree level engineers, technicians, and designers.
The landscape of career opportunity is a shifting panorama, to be sure.
A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander. ―Roman Payne
I have known people who have lived their entire lives in the same basic location. They have worked the same kinds of jobs. They have even spent their entire careers with the same company.
A large number of people have put down impressive roots. Others have expressed courage in other ways. Many Americans have explored multiple careers changes in their lifetimes.
Of theses two types, I have been the latter. It is impossible for me to say that only recent changes in the American economy have had an effect on me and my work life.
Family, culture and personal choice have had an effect. Life-span development and personal spiritual formation have also come together. All these things, not just the economy, affected a radical shift in how I see myself.
My focus has shifted. I’ve gone from job hunting to becoming career conscious―this is one major area of change.
Another shift has been from goals to targets. That is, from the monolithic notion that a job is an end in itself to accepting a design framework instead. The focus is now on the flexibility of function rather than objectified ambition.
Finally, the acquisition of the material—property, houses, cars—is of no importance. I’d rather have a plane ticket and a passport than a house and a car.
Abundance Over Scarcity
My aim has been to holistically grasp the depth and meaning of this new direction. I seek to harmonize and counterbalance mindfulness, with the practical every-day reality of life.
I am introducing a paradigm shift. It’s a shift toward abundance over scarcity. I make it sound more complicated than it is.
Still, it’s a huge part of why I’ve made the choices I have made. And the best choice I made was to work with a coach.
When the economy went south, I adopted a brave indigence framework. I felt that within my financial scarcity, I could find a spiritual creativity. In essence, I wanted creative indigence. I even ran a blog with that title.
I’m at a place in my personal development today where I take fewer and fewer things in life as belonging to me. It is much more meaningful to contribute something meaningful. There’s little room for third-rate advice, ill-informed opinions, judgment, and the demandingness of others.
But “simple work” no longer gives me satisfaction. It’s about leaving behind a palpable legacy―in my career and life. This is the way to achieve a sense of satisfaction. The way to get there is simple. It’s through giving.
I often said that the more you give, the more you have to give. The time came to live that out.
In the past, my goal was to work at my best, to develop competencies. I wanted to create a space where I could earn a promotion and a raise. Today, as I have said (and I laugh a bit about it, too) I have no business acumen as a result of wearing the blinders of goals.
For example, I once believed that I had no clue about networking. I compensated for my cluelessness by taking the plunge. I replaced The Big Goal of creating a network. I aimed at the practical target of messaging someone on LikedIn.
Lo and behold, I was networking.
Another target area for me was to explore how to make my existing skill set part of my personal brand. This helped me see things in a new light. Writing and my self-perception as an artist are marketable features of my career.
Lo and behold, I’m a freelance writer.
My self-perception as an expressive, original, and independent creative has dividends yet to pay.
I find fulfillment in helping people. Particularly in a capacity where I am able to coach or show people how to do a task. I cherish the notion of being there to help and to be a part of a group that finds solutions to problems.
What I didn’t realize back in 2009 was that this is the definition of an entrepreneur.
This goes back to my maternal grandmother. Julia was a devout Episcopalian who gave much of her property to build churches. During the summer, one of the bedrooms in her beach house became a clinic.
One of the dioceses in Louisiana arranged to send physicians and nurses. I spent weeks at a time in the summer translating. I spent some of the most memorable times in my life in San Marcos de Omoa, Honduras.
I saw human fragility and dignity, illness and courage. I saw what it meant to people to have even one doctor when there was no access to health care.
One young mother walked for 12 straight hours to see a doctor. She carried her swaddled infant for over 40 km. The baby boy would have otherwise died of dehydration because of diarrhea. One young man had an inguinal hernia without any hope for treatment.
I learned that everything that has a front has a back. Gratitude without appreciation is meaningless. The patients served, and the medical personnel we helped, modeled this for me every day.
The first male nurse I ever met was John Henry Williams. He had been in the Navy Medical Corps during World War II, stationed on a battleship that sunk in the Pacific. He had a huge impact on my life. He was a person who stayed behind after everyone else left. John lived in the village he served. He taught about clean water, nutrition, and health, not as an expert but as a neighbor and a part of the community.
John was not a go-getter. He was a giver. His value to his community was in his generosity. He gave continuously. His was a life not of creative indigence but of abundance. On his terms.
On The Scale
When I became a graduate student, social entrepreneurial initiatives seemed logical. From the beaches of Honduras to community interest companies and Appreciative Inquiry. It makes sense to me.
But those are Big Goals and with no idea about scalability, it’s a pipe dream.
An honest scalability model helps the freelancer. Most entrepreneurs want to transition from one business model to a wider entrepreneurial sphere. As we take on an increased or expanding workload, we expand our vision.
A system that scales well will be able to increase its level of performance and efficiency. Not just when tested by larger operational demands, but when tested by a larger vision. That’s true not just for business but the entrepreneur running it.
Scale yourself first. This isn’t about climbing the ladder. This scale is about progression, succession, sequence.
Freelancer to Social Entrepreneur. Nurturing a heart for both giving and abundance. Wanting to make a difference for clients now, and change the world as I scale up. In the system that I’m creating, these are also Big Goals. With scalability, they become a Big Mission.
This is why getting a career counselor or a life coach is so powerful. With a coach, we choose the positive as the focus. We identify the life-giving and create a preferred future. We innovate and improvise and generate the appreciative rather than the struggling.
Choose abundance over scarcity.
The coach I work with is available when you’re ready to explore your own choices.
Soul Searching? Good. Work with a “re-connect with your soul” facilitator. Contact Maria Yum on Facebook today. https://www.facebook.com/mariahum108?fref=ts