What would you do if you didn’t have to work?
Often, when we’re unhappy at work, we’d rather be doing ANYTHING else. It could pay less money, and it might not even use our brain. But, if we could just get away from our current workplace, we’d jump on the opportunity.
Unfortunately, running away from the burning building is rarely the answer. The next office often has many of the same problems. Only now, we’ve got to figure out how to make ends meet with less money.
It’s often better to turn the question on it’s head all together and start to think of what you’d like to do, if you could do anything at all.
I often think back to my time in graduate school. After expecting to finish my full-time program in twenty-months, I finished in fifteen. As graduation crept up, I participated in many job interviews and offers began to roll in.
One of the job offers was almost too good to resist. It was for a big brand name company that you have definitely heard of. The company is very impressive and getting an offer was no small feat. Their interview process included onsite interviews with many different people, an IQ test (that was a lot like taking the SAT), and even a psychological evaluation.
The offer was the most money I’d ever been given up to that point. It was roughly twice what I had made just fifteen months before, when I entered school. It included a big signing bonus, full relocation for me and my boyfriend, great vacation — the works. The company was so excited about me that they even mailed a bouquet of flowers to my house.
The problem was this. Before graduate school, I was an IT Project Manager. It was an awesome job. I learned a lot, and then went to get my MBA in order to grow my skills and try my hand at something new. The job offer at this big impressive company was also to be an IT Project Manager. But, like I said, it was for twice the money.
It would have been easy to say yes. The company would have sent movers to box everything up. They would have written me a big check, and off I would have gone to a new city.
Unfortunately, it just didn’t sit well with me. I had saved money for years in order to go to school. I wanted to grow my career, not just my pocketbook. I didn’t want to do the same job as before, even if it was for more money.
So, what did I do? I turned the job down. In fact, I turned every job down.
I decided that if I could complete school five months earlier than planned, I could take a few months to decide what I’d do — if I didn’t have to do anything.
A few of the skills I had were: building websites and doing research and analysis. I also had a fairly natural sense for marketing. Before I knew it, I was working for myself. And, I became a digital marketer. I sold shoes for a website called Zappos.com. I would research the shoes, build websites to sell them, and then promote them online. Zappos paid me a commission on every pair of their shoes I sold.
The process was hard. I kept that high dollar offer letter at home, and sometimes I wondered if I’d made the right choice.
But, in the end, it was absolutely the right choice. I created an entirely new career path for myself. I combined skills I already had, with what I gained in business school, and then grew my expertise through actually doing the new job. And, working for myself led to a corporate career in digital marketing.
The thing that really surprised me at the time was how many of the skills I needed to do the job I already had. They were random things I’d learned in college, or had done as a hobby. But, I was using them in a different way.
If you’re thinking of jumping into a new career, there’s a good chance you may also have skills that can be re-purposed into another field. You just have to be willing to take a risk and ask yourself, “What would I be doing if I didn’t have to work?”
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Angela Copeland is Founder and Coach for Copeland Coaching, a great way to jump start your job search. Follow her on Twitter @CopelandCoach for tips on finding the perfect job for you.