Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vocational Rehab

A friend of mine recently had surgery as a result of habitual strain, which he said was also indicative of his work life. Instead of allowing his vision to unfold naturally in its season, his impatience led him to work harder and push it through instead. He was exhausted and frustrated. Guidance had reminded him that a tomato could be grown in January or June. Doing it in January doesn’t require patience but a lot of work to construct a greenhouse to make that possible. Doing it in June is a lot easier, if you can wait for the seed to grow in its time. It occurred to me to look at my own recent injury as a life lesson as well.

It happened while doing something I didn’t really want to do. I had been selling books to libraries for the last few months and I was not enjoying the job and had some doubts about it right from the start (which I ignored). While lifting heavy bins of books during one excursion, instead of lifting properly, I did something resembling an Olympic clean and jerk maneuver, tearing my rotator cuff muscles in the process. My doctor and Physical Therapist have both commented on how unnaturally flexible my shoulder and hip joints are (I also have some hip dysplasia). This hyper-flexibility contributed to my injury. My hyper-flexibility diagnosis applies to my work life choices as well.

Flexibility on the job is a great attribute. It allows for a smoother adjustment to change and it connotes a positive attitude of willingness and cooperation. I have prided myself on my flexible attitude, both on the job and when searching for a job. A friend recently asked me what I how I envisioned the details of my next career opportunity. “I don’t know exactly,” I said. “There are a lot of roles I would consider”. She pointed out that this degree of flexibility was not serving me well and was keeping me in a constant state of wondering and wandering, rather than manifesting my desires. My flexibility was enabling me to avoid the work of making critical decisions and mindful choices that would open the most desirable doors for me.

The opposite of flexibility doesn’t have to be rigidity. In this case, it is specificity and clarity. With that in mind I began Operation Clarity with enthusiasm and an eye for detail! With a generous gift card in hand, I spent one afternoon buying clothing that I envisioned a person of my vocation would wear. This was an intensely enjoyable experience and helped me adopt the mindset I want, not to mention “the look”. I checked out about a dozen career books from the library to help me make more informed choices. I made inquiries at Universities and other learning institutions that have programs I am interested in pursuing. I made successful attempts to network with people that have the credentials I aspire to have myself to talk to them about their jobs and gain wisdom and insight from them.

Once I stopped looking at the job market as a place to find a job I could live with or had experience in, and instead thought about what I really liked to do and where my interests lie, my perspective changed dramatically. I began to think about creating my work, rather than applying for it. I have two new businesses I am working on and several other thrilling opportunities in front of me. More details on those later. For now, it is safe to say that it was a blessing that I hurt myself. It got my attention and I used the recovery time on rehabbing my shoulder as well as my outlook and career.