Around 5 years ago, right as the Great Recession was picking up steam and the markets and world economy were in a tailspin, I was unemployed, sitting alone in the basement of my house, and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do next in my career.
I was scared.
I was embarrassed.
I was ashamed.
I was alone.
I was lost.
I was depressed.
I had no idea how to get out of the funk that I was in.
Ironically, I didn’t take the advice you so often get when you’re in a situation like that. I wasn’t “pounding the pavement” looking for my next opportunity. I wasn’t going to “get back out there” and get a job just to have a job. I wasn’t going out and meeting people every day. I didn’t make it my job to find a job. I wasn’t scouring the job boards every day. I wasn’t going on informational interviews.
By now, you’re probably asking yourself “Mic, why weren’t you doing any of those things? What were you doing? How did you survive?”
The answer isn’t easy, but I want to share it with you in case you’ve been in that situation, find yourself in that situation in the future, or know someone who may be there right now. But before I do, let me preface this with a couple of very important points:
1. All of those things I mentioned above are often good and necessary things to do when you’re looking to make a career change.
2. Everyone has financial challenges and realities they have to figure out during the career change process.
So why wasn’t I doing all of those things? Because I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living and I felt that I was starting to lose myself because of the career choices I’d made.
You see, throughout my career, I worked for big companies, small companies, in a home office, and in cubicle farms. I made good money, had good benefits, and so much more. I had been in customer service roles, inside sales roles, worked in communications, and eventually worked as a recruiter for several years.
But I wasn’t happy.
For the most part, I wasn’t miserable either. I didn’t love what I did. I didn’t hate it. I just did it. Whatever the job, I learned how to do it, got paid, and then did it again the next day.
All along the way, I always had a voice. I always had a burning desire to make things better. I always wanted to be a part of a dynamic team. I always wanted to be a part of building something. I hated corporate politics. I hated sitting in meetings where there were elephants in the room that everyone was afraid to point out.
I saw corporate cultures that had so much potential spend little-to-no time cultivating that potential. I saw managers that had the title, but didn’t have the time or the training to effectively manage people. I saw people that were content to live by someone else’s rules.
I saw people that had a voice but had no confidence in using it. I saw people that thought they were more important than they were. I saw people that were awesome, but didn’t have the leadership that would bring that awesomeness out in them. I saw so many people, myself included, that couldn’t be who they truly were. I hated living two separate lives…being one person at home and in my heart and mind….and being another person in the business world. It was a disconnect that was literally tearing me apart inside.
After going from position to position, and company to company, over the first several years of my career, I made a critical decision that, while extremely difficult at various times to stay committed to, ended up changing my life and career forever:
Whatever I did next, I wasn’t going to do something I wasn’t passionate about. I knew people that loved what they did for a living. I just wanted to be one of them. I just wanted to know what it felt like.
I had worked in unfulfilling positions and companies for much of my career. It was killing the very person I knew I was, but couldn’t unleash within the constraints of my career choices. At the same time, I also had (and still have) a very real knowledge that life was too short to do something I didn’t enjoy. I lost my dad to cancer when I was 23 and he was only 46. That was, and is, a constant reminder of how quickly it can all change. Why would I spend another minute doing something I didn’t enjoy?
On that day 5 years ago, as I sat in my basement, I realized that I had to get all of my thoughts about career and life out of my head and onto paper. That’s when I wrote MICOLOGY (see below). I didn’t do it for anyone else. I did it for myself. I needed to figure out who I was, what I was passionate about, and what was core to me and my DNA.
Once I finished writing, I realized I had created a living document for what would become my personal and professional brand. I put MICOLOGY on my LinkedIn profile and it’s still there today. I emailed it to friends and family. I shared it with people who had lost their jobs or were wanting to change careers. I go over it every time I train a person or team on LinkedIn. And I refer back to it when I need a reminder of where I was so many years ago, how far I’ve come, and how far I still have to go.
I used MICOLOGY as my guide during my career search…and then I reconnected with Jason Terry, a guy that believed in me more than I believed in myself at that time. Jason saw potential in me that I didn’t even see in myself. After we reconnected and I told him about my life and career journey, I knew at the core of my heart that I wanted to work with him. I followed up with him every single month for seven months after he launched Blue Gurus. I knew so clearly that I wanted to work with him that, after the seventh month, I approached him and said:
“Jason, I don’t need a certain salary. I don’t need benefits. I don’t need a certain number of hours of work. I want to switch careers and I want to work with you.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
If you find yourself, or someone you know, in this situation, share this post and maybe it will inspire them to get out of the grind of a career they hate and instead pursue something that they love. The road isn’t easy, I can assure you. There will be times where you doubt what you’re doing. There will be times when you think you should just run out and get any old job. There will be times where you think career happiness isn’t possible.
I experienced all of those things. But I kept going down the road less traveled by (with so much support and encouragement from my wife Missy and my mom Beverly)…and because I did…and I stayed true to myself and my instincts about people….it’s been the most enjoyable and personally fulfilling time in my life and career.
Now I’m one of those people that knows what it feels like to be passionate about what I do.
It’s your turn.
Main Entry: mic•hol•o•gy | Function: noun
1 : the science of the mind and behavior of Mic
2 : the behavioral characteristics of Mic; the study of mind and behavior in relation to Mic
3 : a theory or system of psychology <the psychology of Mic>
-Natural Giver – I love helping people.
-Authentic – Built into the fabric of who I am. What you see is what you get.
-Honest – The last time I lied was to my mom my junior year in high school.
-Reliable – I do what I say I’ll do. EVERY TIME. I don’t drop balls.
-Organized – My desk, my work, my email inbox, my car, my closet, my home….you name it, it’s organized. And I LOVE helping other people get organized.
-The Guy That Asks “Why?” – Work smarter, not harder.
-Passionate Communicator – Talk to me and you’ll see.
-Under-Promise and Over-Deliver – That’s better than the alternative, right?
-Business Acumen – I’ve worked in start-ups, medium, and large companies..in cubicle farms, at client sites, and at a home office.
-Problem Solver – Tell me what you need done. I’ll do it, learn it, or connect you to someone that can help.
-Social – I love social: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are where I play the most.
-Blogger – I write and I coach people to be better writers.
-WordPress Web Sites – I’m responsible for content on web site projects.
-Corporate Culture – One of my biggest passions. Love challenging the norms.
-Communications – Writing, Editing, Proofing.
-Strategic – I help fine-tune and implement ideas.
-Process improvement and efficiency.
-Recruiting – 6+ years of recruiting experience.
-Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. – Anonymous
-The hardest part about being truly happy is finding the courage to make that choice. – Yours Truly
-We’re all just trying to get to a place of HAPPY. – Yours Truly
-You always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Anonymous
-Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today. – James Dean