Sunday, April 5, 2015

In Control...Of Something

When I talk to friends looking for work, the most common thread among them is a continuous feeling of lack of control over their circumstances. While they may continually revise their resumes and cover letters, while they may look daily for ways to lower living expenses while they are short on income, while they may do research and network and learn new skills and seem to be trying all the right things, they still find themselves powerless to make a change in the circumstance that matters most.

It is a feeling I have felt all too often myself. No matter what job we do, what we accomplish in that job (even if what we accomplish is mostly just a weekly paycheck) makes us feel powerful, at least temporarily. We have done something that has made a difference in our field, to our co-workers, or for our families. How, then, do we find power when it feels as though we are stuck in the rut of the powerless?

What I have found myself suggesting, and trying to do myself, is finding little areas of power in life. When we are in periods of work uncertainty, we won't always be able to find the right people to talk to at a company, but with a little effort, we can find things that are lost in our apartments, which can give us a new sense of control over our surroundings. We might not be able to reconstruct a daily life like the one we had, but if we can construct a shelf or a homemade birthday cake or a historical diorama with our kids, we feel good having something to show for our time and energy. We might be unable to change the money coming in, but we can take charge of what's going out (not a bad habit, even when the work isn't a problem).

The point is, lack of control when it comes to our work lives has become more of an issue for many people, but it doesn't have to mean losing our control over the rest of our lives. Scrub a tub, so that it looks the way you want, and you're taking control. Teach your kids a new life skill so that you're not always doing whatever it is yourself, and you're taking control. Reach out to both people you know and people you don't, and you're taking control. Will it get you from Point A to Point B? Not always. But chances are, you'll feel much more in control of your trip.

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