Several times in the past I have been asked what has my career as a licensed professional counselor taught me about life and my concept of “Living More Than OK”? I want to answer that question from the context of my overall career journey. So this week I will focus on my career journey then show how it connects to “Living More Than OK”.
Starting Point Library
Photo credit: JanneM / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
My first job was in my high school years in my hometown at Barberton Public Library. Of course, that was part-time and being a book head, being around books is what made that job enjoyable for me by nature. I could not have asked for a better first job experience of working with friendly people and being around books.
After high school, but before moving to Chicago for my Bachelor degree at Moody Bible Institute, I worked for a year at a company that made sample books for carpet companies as a shipping and receiving clerk. That was a 40-hour grind, but the people were wonderful to work with and the management was friendly. On that job, I did observe what I mention in my book -- the living for the weekend mentality. Through my observations it was for many of the workers, dealing with a boring work life and waiting for a short respite of entertainment on the weekend. Primarily, I saw how the bar scene created a self-inflicted cycle of living paycheck to paycheck for many people.
Chicago and Career Change
Photo credit: Foter / CC BY-SA
I am a firm believer in considering careers, of Dr. Krumboltz’s Happenstance theory and Dr. Jim Bright’s Chaos theory of careers. I left Ohio and went to Chicago for college study; thinking and planning to go into Protestant church work. I finished in Chicago a Bachelor and a Master degree that related to religious work. Even though with my Master of Divinity at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School I began a serious interest in Counseling.
Then life events occurred to create a shift, as Dr. Bright calls them. I found myself in customer service work at a variety of companies in the Chicago area. This allowed me to see the same life pattern I had seen in the Ohio company. The pattern of people living merely for a little fleeting happiness on the weekends. I always had wondered -- is the life of work, TV, and bars and clubs on the weekends the only reason we were created? Customer service is considered a mundane job of being in a cubicle on the phone and computer all day. Again, years doing that made me think that yes, it can be mundane, if that is your mindset, but all work can have intrinsic meaning and purpose. My longest position was with a textbook publishing company. Maybe working at a textbook company, some may think that is boring, but that company was helping to improve education. So there was meaning in being connected to such a company that was improving minds of customers around the world.
Further Career Change in Texas
In my final couple of years in Chicago I met my wife and we moved to Texas to allow her to follow her career journey. For me the move to Texas was where I was able to connect with my first job of helping college students in a Student Success department of Texas State Technical College in Harlingen, Texas. This was a job that I truly felt a passion for as it connected with my desire to counsel and encourage students in their career dream journeys. This position was an impetus to go on for a second Master degree this time in Counseling. At this point, I found myself being shaped by theories, such as, Dr. William Glasser’s Choice Theory that emphasizes the making of quality choices, which is one theory basis of my “Living More Than OK” thinking. Another style of Counseling theory, which is termed Solution-Focused, became important to me as it is very positive and goal oriented, which also in my book is a theme that runs throughout the thinking in it.
With a family move from deep South Texas to New Braunfels, Texas I continue to work with college students as an Adjunct Professor and I also do Counseling and Coaching. My continued work in higher education is one factor that has moved me to be working on a PhD in Psychology through Capella University. My studies there has reaffirmed my passion for Positive Psychology. My future dissertation will have some connection to the subject in a practical manner for people to live better lives.
So what does this chaotic, happenstance journey mean? A thread I have seen through my work life is that too many simply live as Henry David Thoreau stated, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Through jobs that allowed me to observe that, those jobs helped to shape my passion with college students to inspire them to live out their song.
Of course my book’s compilation of essays is also an attempt to challenge on a larger scale more people to move beyond desperation and sing out the song inside them.
Reflection: What have you learned from your career journey over the years? Is your job just a job? Consider the meaning that can be found in your work by considering the big picture of how you help people, or the service or products your company provides to help people have a better life.