If you have recently become a “job seeker,” as I have, you have joined a big club. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 11.5 million unemployed persons in the U.S. as of July, 4.2 million of them jobless for 27 weeks or more.
I am one of the lucky ones, having chosen to voluntarily seek employment elsewhere rather than accept a job change not suited to me.
Still, whether you are a job seeker voluntarily or involuntarily, the expert advice is often the same, including: Choose your next position carefully and methodically, and take care of yourself in the process. It’s not quite “enjoy the journey,” but it’s pretty close.
For example, in “The Encore Career Handbook,” author Marci Alboher cites writers who have addressed major transitions in life – marriage, divorce, a job change, etc. – as times with a beginning and end, but also a middle time of uncertainty, confusion, and loss. “That ‘empty or fallow’ time is an important part of the process,” she writes, “and many agree that it’s often necessary to pass through it, not just skip around it, to get to the other side of a transition.”
Experts say this in-between period is an ideal time for thinking, planning, and reflecting.
There is even a biblical side to this, for Scripture speaks to the folly of toil and the accumulation of things rather than rest, prayer, and mediation. (In Ecclesiastes 2:23: All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.)
In the spirit of making my job search a time to explore and grow, I jumped out of an airplane Saturday. At first glance, that seems like a quick path to “life end” rather than “life change,” but trust me: It’s part of a plan.
You see, I have not taken a lot of risks in my life. I worked for the same company for 34 years and I’ve lived in the same town for 29 years. This career change I am making is a risk, and so I need to get accustomed to uncertainty. Therefore, having long possessed a gift certificate for one tandem skydive – where you are strapped to an expert and essentially along for the ride – I decided this was the perfect time to stretch my comfort level.
I can’t claim this was accomplished with perfection. In the still photos and video taken of my skydive – including an 8,000-foot freefall at approximately 120 mph – I am dressed like a goofball, as if I had been busy tending my suburban lawn when I suddenly decided to jump from an airplane 2½ miles above the ground. But it was accomplished, and what a rush it was!
I fully intend to work long walks and amateur meditation into my search for a new career, but those may not give me the kind of adrenaline high resulting from a skydive, nor this very important realization: When you have taken a leap from an airplane, this job-search thing no longer seems quite so scary.