Posted: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:24 am, Wed Dec 21, 2011.
By SHANE BELL/Special to The Press The Coeur d’ Alene Press
It started off as a peaceful day. Craggy rock faces pierced through the clouds, birds of prey peppered the landscape. Mist obscured the figures around me, and minerals coated my skin in a viscous armor.
After four years of grueling academics at the University of Montana and with graduation in sight, I was enjoying a stress-free day at Quinn’s Hot Springs near Paradise, Mont. Breaking the silence around us, a woman asked my friend and I what our majors were. I told her I was graduating with a degree in journalism.
“What are you going to do with that, when it’s a failing industry?” she asked.
Before I could even answer, she walked away, embarrassed by her uncouth question. My friend looked at me with concern. But at least with her degree, the Russian language, she could translate the Russian being spoken by two couples around us.
“I want a sandwich,” one woman blurted out. “Should we leave at 3 or 4 p.m.?” another lady asked. I looked at my friend, thinking that she could at least eavesdrop with her degree.
The truth is, journalism is not a failing industry; it’s an evolving industry, but that’s another story. Even though the woman at Quinn’s Hot Springs could have benefited from a little more social tact, her question reflected a greater issue the majority of Americans face, no matter your age, degree, or home. It’s the big e word, Economy, and right now our economy is like the relative everyone knows is trying to get better but still struggles with during the holidays, or maybe it’s just that lady at the hot springs.
What I’m focusing on is not what we already know (the sickly economy) but ways in which we can personally find solutions to rise above the economy and pursue our passions, to attain our dream jobs. I want people to overcome the big question, “How are you going to do that?” So here are some tips I’ve thoughtfully considered that may help in realizing that internship, that job, that opportunity that sits at the recesses of your mind, just waiting to spring into action.
Tip 1- Find Meaning: The best advice I’ve ever heard is to find personal meaning in whatever you do, may that be a major in college, a job, your spirituality, or a relationship. When facing hardship (like the reality of being laid off, or not finding a job in your career field), it is meaning that roots you in your efforts, and also carries you to real victory and success.
“Challenging the meaning of life is the truest expression of the state of being human,” said Viktor Frankl in his eternal book, “The Pursuit of Meaning.” It was one of a handful of books that truly changed my life. Frankl continues, “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”
Tip 2 – Do It Anyway: Whether you’re paid to do what you love or not, do it anyway. Everyone must start somewhere. With this economic climate, we can’t expect we’re immediately going to be paid for our first-love. However, doing what you love will bring personal happiness, enhance your skills, help make connections/relationships, and jump-start the process of eventually landing that dream job. Everyone remembers your mom’s guru counselor friend who sang the adage “Do what you love, and money will come.” Cliche it may be, history proves your mom’s guru counselor friend is right.
Tip 3 – The Ready Myth: We naturally desire to feel that confidence of being ready for everything that comes our way. But do we let the illusion of adequacy and preparation hinder our future? In Relevant Magazine, author Jon Acuff says, “The Land of Ready is one of the most popular destinations on the map we draw in our heads when we dream. But here’s a big secret: Ready is a myth. There’s no such thing. You’ll never be ready to write your book. You’ll never be ready to be a musician. You’ll never be ready to become a teacher. The goal of the ready myth is to make you believe the Land of Ready exists and then get you to wait for it. To sit on your hands, waiting to start, waiting to dream, waiting to make a move until you’re ready enough.” Stop waiting, and go for it!
Tip 4 – Humor: Find the humor in your situation and it’ll help you to become more positive. Humor can help us to not take ourselves too seriously, but seriously enough.
Tip 5 – Continue Your Education: Continuing your education can only help you, especially in an increasingly competitive market. Perhaps it’s time to take a risk and get that master’s degree or certification you’ve always talked about. Or, if you just want to learn and aren’t interested in the title, audit a course for a minimum amount of money at your local community college, like North Idaho Community College. Who knows when you can impress that first date with some new-found foreign language skills?
Tip 6 – Volunteer: After graduating from college last summer, I remember reality hitting me pretty hard after the big high of graduation weekend. Doubt, fear, and confusion became my post-grad friends. Then, my dad had the brightest idea: “Let’s go to Mexico on a missions trip!” It was the perfect remedy, after spending a week painting a church in the hills of Tecate, Mexico, having breakfast with the locals every morning, and laughing over my American idiosyncrasies, I felt refreshed, out of myself and ready for the next step in life.
Tip 7 – Think People, Not Money: Trust me, I know this one is hard to live out, especially when finances are less than perfect. But the truth is, it is relationships and human connections that lead us to greater opportunities and jobs, not money. No one ever says in an interview, “I want to work here because I’ll make tons of money.” People say, “I want to work here because of how I can help your company or business with my skills, and, in so doing, help the customer.”
No matter the monetary situation, helping people should always be our ultimate goal. No one person will get us out of this recession, but with the mindset of helping others, who says we can’t?
Shane Bell is a Coeur d’Alene resident.