The Next Steps, or “Been there. Done That. Now what?”

After resolving to leave real estate I tried a number of different jobs as a temp and part time worker, just trying to keep afloat. As a friend of mine once said, “I’ve grown accustomed to having food with my meals”. Sometimes holding two or three jobs simultaneously, in the course of three years I worked as:

  • Personal assistant to an author (who, ironically, wrote books on real estate investing and wealth building)
  • Cocktail waitress at a “gentlemen’s club” (I was completely clothed, thank you very much!)
  • Appointment-setter for a practice of five oral surgeons
  • Outside sales for an assisted living community
  • Waitress in a family-style restaurant
  • Work-from-home eldercare advisor for A Place for Mom
  • Bartender and banquet server in a mid-level hotel
  • Administrative assistant at a heating-cooling/plumbing company

Not to say that these aren’t good jobs in their own right, but they just weren’t what I wanted do for the next 25 years of my working life. I was grateful for each and every one of them at the time. They satisfied a need and each had it’s own learning opportunities. Some paid fairly well for our area and had good benefits, but I knew I would end up an ugly, bitter, unsatisfied creature if I settled for “just a job”.

I knew in my heart I was smarter than that. (If this sounds familiar, keep reading, If I sound like an ego-maniac, then be quiet and go back to work.) I knew I was worth more than that. I wanted something I could really sink my teeth into. Have you ever sat back and looked at those people who are completely INTO their work and wished you had that kind of passion for your job?

On the flip side, have you ever felt like you were completely out of place at work? Looked around just completely stunned how they could be so completely INTO their crappy job? (I reference back to “waitressing in a family restaurant” on this one in particular.) Ever thought to yourself, “Do they know there is more out there than THIS”?

 Sooooo….what? What exactly do you do with these high-and-mighty, yet desperation-inducing feelings?

  1. Search the job postings online and read blogs about everything to see if there is a “calling” out there that sounds interesting. (Hmmm, “Big Cat Trainer”?)
  2. Research a LOT more about those things that sound interesting and narrow it down to a small list. (Wow, you have to have THAT much education to train lions, really?)
    Cheetahs in the Workplace

    Cheetahs in the Workplace (Photo credit: Erica Noel)


  3. Find out if any employers actually want to HIRE a person who does that for a living in an area you actually want to live. (Oh, you may have to move where the big cats are living. I don’t think they’ll bring them to you.)
  4. Does it pay what you want? (You may have a GREAT insurance plan working with big cats, but you still have to be able to afford those sequin-covered jump suits. At least they’re tax deductable as a business expense!)
  5. If your new job involves additional education, can you afford it? I’m guessing that if the job doesn’t pay at LEAST as much annually as your education will cost, than it probably isn’t a good idea to take out loans you will never be able to pay back.

The fourth and fifth points warrant a good deal of your time an attention. Be honest. Make a “spending plan” (sounds much more fun than “budget”) of your current expenses. You need to get a real grip on your financial reality. Can you afford to LIVE while you are in college? Ask yourself:

  • What kind of lifestyle changes can you make that would free up your money to create or increase your savings?
  • What loans can you pay off to ease your monthly burden?
  • Do you need to get a roommate or start renting out your basement to a renter?
  • Can you take on any part time work between now and when you start school to increase your savings? (The goal is to put ALL of this money away for college, not for extra holiday spending.) The side benefit is that you may stumble on a part time job that you may be able to keep while you are in school, such as an occasional banquet server. Find employers who need more help during times when you are on breaks from school, such as holidays, summer, etc.
  • DO YOU HAVE THE SUPPORT OF YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER AND/OR FAMILY? Unless you want your advanced education to result in your divorce or DSS taking your children away from you, you MUST consider this carefully. Do as much homework as possible before approaching your significant other or family with the idea of going back to school! Most people are resistant to change initially, no matter how beneficial it may be in the long view. You may need to sell them on how this HUGE expense is going to pay off in the end. You can’t sell them until you’ve sold yourself. You can’t make an informed decision you are passionate enough about to sell without getting all your ducks in a row.

I’ll have to dedicate another blog to the money and family support stuff soon. Thanks for reading.

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