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For those of you who haven’t been following my every move, I’ll nutshell it: back at the end of October, I left my very good job in pursuit of an even better one. I did not have a new one secured, so armed with a goodly amount of confidence and support, I leaped.

Over 2 months later, it looks like I’ll be going back to join The Working Dead. I’m sure it’s not going to be that bad—I just wanted to use that pun. But yes, I done and got me a job—a good job, and I daresay that I’m excited to get back at it.

darth-vader-latte-art

Here are some things I learned while being off:

1. I really really REALLY enjoy being off.
I think part of the reason why is because as a parent, I very much appreciate having time to myself. Not working was like maternity leave, without the annoying baby. I have had such an awesome time. Doing what, you ask? Whatever the frig I’ve wanted, that’s what!

I did not write a book; I did not complete a 30-day yoga regime; I did not learn how to speak Esperanto. But my days were filled with lots of enjoyable normal stuff like meeting people for coffee, reading in cafes, cooking and baking, extra dog walks, road trips, beating the Christmas rush, making presents, getting at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night, pursuing silly projects (Sockswag Tumblrikeamonkey decalsThe Sockvent Calendar, and oh yeah, I created a Twitter account for a banana bread), and just generally taking the time to do things I like, and not wasting time doing things I don’t.

2. People want to help.
Part of my mandate in figuring out my next career step was to meet with many different people in many different fields to find out what it is they enjoy about their job. I was never refused a conversation and in fact, everyone was more than happy to spend an hour of their precious time to chat with me about what they do, regardless of whether they were in the position to hire or not. And as was often the case, if they weren’t in the position to hire, they knew someone who was, so a lot of the time, one meeting would lead to the next.

I am so grateful for the support I’ve had from recent and past business associates. It made me realize how valuable it is to foster good working relationships and how far simply being nice to people can take you. There isn’t really a how-to for this. It’s simply being generous with your time, putting your best effort forward in whatever you do, and leaving people with a good feeling. Jokes and memorable moments help, I guess. Presents. Lots of presents.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a new job, networking is key. My colleague/buddy, Jaime Stein tells it better here. I know, I know, you hate networking. It’s just meeting with people and having a chat over a coffee, that’s all. As I said, people are more than willing to do this and it becomes kind of a pay it forward thing: since it’s served me so well, I’ll gladly meet with whomsoever would like to speak to me in the same capacity. It’s like career karma.

3. Work is work for a reason and if it wasn’t, it’d be play.

Part of my exploration was to figure out a different approach to working and understand why my previous job had become dissatisfactory. I’m not sure I came to any big conclusions on this one, to be honest. Ongoing learnings. What I did learn is that there are people out there who have real passion for their work. Of note are Paul Crowe and his team at Bnotions. If you go to visit their office, you’ll get an ovation. I don’t mean the minty chocolate stick confectionary, but the people who work there will actually start applauding when you come in. They do it when you leave too. It’s fun.

I also had a chat with Joanna Sable of The Bumpercrop. Joanna and her partners produce local delicacies, which they jar throughout the year. I follow her on Twitter and her talk of spending the day in a spice-scented kitchen really intrigued me. Obviously, it’s not always as idyllic as that, but again, what I wanted to and did glean from our conversation was the passion behind the work.

4. Public transit is a great idea.

After getting dinged with a $35 parking bill at one of our downtown lots, not to mention not one, but two parking tickets, I started making a habit of taking the TTC to my various meetings. I was impressed by how quickly and easily I was able to get where I wanted and not having to worry about parking and traffic was quite liberating. What I didn’t like was the crowds, the grime, and the unpredictable risks of traveling with others. Still, it works.

5. No one notices if you wear the same pair of jeans for 2 weeks straight.

Or they won’t say anything about it if they do.

6. Don’t worry; be happy.

It would have been very easy for me to go down a rathole of oh god what have I done I’m never going to find a job. But I didn’t. I would attribute this to support of friends and colleagues—just knowing that they weren’t worried made me not worry. Also, I could see that there are so many great opportunities out there—it was just a matter of waiting for the right one. I truly believe that positivity breeds positive outcomes. I know it sounds hippy-dippy Dweezil Zappa Moon Unit, but it’s true. No one wants to be around a sourpuss or a complainer. As far as companies go, they want to hire someone who doesn’t need the job, but wants the job. Desperation is like Gorgonzola cheese to hiring managers. This applies to other scenarios as well. It’s important to show people what you can do for them—not how you’re going to weigh them down.

7. You are the driver.

Finally, the biggest lesson I learned was more a reminder of something everyone already knows: if you are not happy with something in your life, change it. No one is going to fix it for you. Don’t wait. Make sure the proper nets and cushions are in place, yes, but know that you can do it.

You’re in control.

You make the decisions.

You are the boss.

…aaand GO!

Originally posted January 8, 2013

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