The New Year has come and gone and you are still searching for a position. To you, it appears that everyone else is busy, past the holidays and on with their work. Meanwhile, you remain searching for the next right position that offers: joy, fun, fulfillment and a sense of a future. As you begin to put your plan together, who might you reach out to for help?
Needing Help in Hard Times
Over the years, I have faced many challenges in my life, both personally and professionally. During the easy times, I've easily accepted the family, friends and colleagues around me for conversation and fun activities.
During the more stressful times, I held onto those close to me for help, but struggled with reaching out to others. It's not unusual. In good times, it's easier to reach out because there are no specific needs to be met, other than the joy of someone's company. During tough times, it's hard to admit that you need help.
Several years ago, I attended a three-day conference in North Carolina with speaker and anthropologist Angeles Arrien. Her talk was conversational, focusing on a book she had written about the second half of life and some of the challenges we face.
During the conference, Arrien engaged us in different exercises. One is still with me to this day and I often ask clients to try it:
For each decade of your life, identify:
- Your gift
- Your challenge
- Who the stranger was that showed up
The "stranger" can be someone who might have been part of your life years ago, but fell out of touch. All of a sudden that stranger appeared and was ready to help.
Your memory may not serve you well for the early decades, but "challenges" in later years should be clear (you can also do this in five-year increments if that helps). The "gift" and the "stranger" take a bit more thought, but if you take the time, you will discover what and who they are as well.
Many at the conference talked about their "strangers," surprised by who they were. During your job search, whether it has been six months, 18 months, or more, who is the stranger who has shown up for you? What has surprised you about this person? What have you learned from them? What is the gift they have given you?
A few years ago, I decided to expand the services I provide to include keynote speaking engagements for events. At the time, I didn't know the "ins and outs" of the speaking business. While having lunch with a friend, she mentioned a woman who had just moved to the area from another state and who had an established speaking business. I reached out to her and since that time, she has been a mentor, a friend and a tremendous help.
We need these strangers in our life. To our surprise and amazement, if we are open to possibilities, the strangers have much to offer us. Thank you, Angeles, for your wise words and the exercise that can open our eyes to the support that will be there for us when we least expect it. Get on track with your job search and look for the stranger who will show up.
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