I just had a revelation in the last year or so. I got looking back at my life up to this point (I’m now 57) and I realized that I’ve lost a great deal of the last thirty years since I’ve graduated college!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suffering from selective amnesia or any kind of medical or psychological problem. I just can’t believe that much time has passed and I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be at this point.
First problem: I didn’t have a clear picture of what I wanted to do or where I was going. This is not a small thing. Still what kid at 17 or 26 REALLY has any idea what they want to become. I know I didn’t.
Life Plan Detail at 26
I had just graduated with a Recording Industry Management degree from Middle Tennessee State University. After pursuing music throughout junior high and high school, I felt it was a natural progression to become an audio engineer and eventually producer.
Keep in mind, neither of these life paths were exactly clear cut as far as action steps. I just made sure I had a degree to fall back on and did my best to learn as much as I could while at school. They even had a internship program that I wasn’t able to take advantage of due to transportation problems. I had no car.
Before I graduated, I had a roommate move out during our lease which really put a strain on the finances. That assumes there WERE any finances-LOL!
So, after I graduated, I spent a year looking for work, picked up odd jobs, worked for the apartment complex I lived at in exchange for rent and basically got further into debt while struggling to make ends meet.
Life Takes a Turn for the Worst
Eventually, not making money and borrowing caught up with me. I was thrown out of the apartment I was living in. I luckily found a landlord in the area who was willing to work with me and moved into the small second apartment in a duplex.
The people I shared it with were nice and the neighbors were friendly too. I felt very blessed to have found this place.
It was shortly after moving into that duplex that I decided I had to make the best of what I had and where I was. I went looking for work in a pet store within walking distance and decided against it when the owner said the parrot could take my finger off-LOL! Right next door, there was a restaurant. I’d worked since I was 14 years old and restaurants were one of my experiences. I decided to stop in and see if they needed help.
The manager, Rick, said he could use somebody and I started out as a busboy/dish dude. The pay wasn’t great but the people were mostly awesome!
If anybody is reading this thinking how deflated they would be graduating from college and working as a busboy, let me set you straight. If you’ve never been this close to being homeless, then you’ve got to understand how grateful you are to have anything at all.
Gratitude, I would learn later, serves you well if you take the time to be grateful! Or to put it better: gratitude only works if you’re grateful!
I eventually worked my way up to cook and met a friend, Ben, I still have lunch with nearly every week. He has the same goofy sense of humor I do (don’t tell his wife. she thinks it’s all my fault-lol) and we helped each other get through the grueling work that restaurants can be.
Time For a Change
After working there for a little over a year, my brother told me about a woman who lived in his neighborhood who had ties to an insurance company here in Nashville. A referral was made and I was hired after two interviews. Finally, I had the income and credit (I never defaulted on any of my loans) to get some wheels and start building a career maybe.
The job was health insurance claims processor. I learned a LOT about health claims and the people were nice too.
After a year there, I moved to another company, then another company and my final health claims job.
Moving Up Again
It was at this last health claim job that I met a friend and mentor, Bart. He showed me what I needed to learn to get into a tech job and finally get out of claims. I spent a solid two years learning linux, UNIX, Windows, databases and anything else he recommended.
Finally, I heard of a position with a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) that needed my skills. I got a job for the amount I wanted and began another four year plus stint learning and improving their processes.
The manager I worked under was awesome and the people were great to work with. I was married by this time so the extra cash came in handy too!
An Unexpected Turn
Eventually, I believe I improved myself right out of a job. In January of 2005, I was called into the manager’s office with the Human Resources person there.
I’ve got to ask: is this EVER the makings of something good?
As you can imagine, I was being downsized. I hold no ill will against anybody there. It was a business decision they had to make. I was actually now overqualified for the job I held. My direct coworker would presumably had much more trouble getting another position due to her age and skill level. I was given a severance package and was able to apply for unemployment.
Down But NOT Out
Yes, it was a shock! I had no idea things were moving that quickly. Still, I knew I could find something and it would be for the better. Truthfully, the job had become stale and boring because of the increased automation. I really had been feeling like a report monkey-LOL!
Long story short…
In short, I never found another tech generalist job. I went to weekly meetings at the Career Center and made sure I talked to people personally. I did NOT have any faith in the internet as a job prospecting tool. CareerBuilder was a joke back then (is it still?).
I did training and still after a year, I had nothing on the radar. I’ve learned since that I simply didn’t position myself correctly. While everybody IS looking for a specialist for certain jobs, it takes a generalist to be able to get the pieces working together.
Still, something HAD to give.
On My Own
After that year passed, unemployment ran out and none of the leads turned up with a job, I knew I had to do something. The feeling was as certain to me as it was when I was thrown out of my apartment.
Luckily, a friend of mine I’d known since high school, Darin, was working for a company that was selling off their archives of rare children’s books. I started selling on eBay and have worked for myself ever since.
I’ve been through a number of iterations but creating web content has always been the focus. I’ve had some good years and some really bad ones but I keep learning and taking action whenever I can.
Nobody said this was going to be easy.
What Does Building a Bigger Life Mean?
Building a bigger life means creating more fun, excitement and success in your life. All while giving you a steady stream of encouragement in the form of articles, audios and videos where I talk about topics like mindset, focus and personal growth.
I want to help you create a bigger life by taking consistent actions outside your comfort zone. They may be small things to one person and huge to another. The most important thing is that you build the habit of taking these actions, daily, weekly, etc.
The ideas will come from things I myself intend to try. I want you to be able to follow along with me as I build my bigger life. At many of them, I’ll FAIL miserably. The most important point will be that I tried and will encourage you to do the same.
There is no ONE way for all of us to build a bigger life. We are all individuals and will have our own strengths and weaknesses.
Just know that your willingness to challenge yourself will be the ONE thing that makes the biggest difference.
My main goal is to make sure thirty years don’t pass again without us knowing about it, ok?
Don’t Let This Post Put You Off
What I mean is I know how pressed for time we all are. I intend for most of the upcoming articles to be short. 3-500 words is what I’ll be shooting for. I’ll introduce the topic, tell you what I know about it and close by asking your experience with it. My main goal is to establish a place people can go to talk about their victories building a bigger life and the massive failures too. I want to give you a little poke with each post to get you thinking.
I hope you’ll join me. Don’t forget to sign up on my Building a Bigger Life list so you’ll be the first to see when new content has been published. Also, please share anything you find here on your favorite social media using the buttons provided. And do leave me a comment to let me know what you need help with.
I look forward to hearing from you!