Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Willingness and Boundaries

I had coffee yesterday with a client about her new career as an artist.  The content wasn’t particularly important; the points were.

“Look,” I told her, “even though you’re in the career of your dreams, there’s still about 30% of it that you won’t like doing.  Every job has that, whether it’s administrative or marketing or the work you don’t like, those production pieces you churn out for the money.  You have to decide what you’re willing to do.

“Then you also have to decide what boundaries you’ll put around your artistry.  How many hours do you want to work at it a day?  It’s the rare artist who’ll stay at the creative task for eight or twelve hours.  If it’s four to five hours a day, put a fence around that time and defend it from incursion by your other responsibilities and the 30% that’s necessary to do.”

Another story.

When I learned a friend was dying a couple of years ago, I called another friend, the soul of pragmatism.  “What shall I do?” I wailed, “I hate being around death, but I feel like I should do something.” “Decide what you’re willing to do and not do.  Visit the hospital, take food, drive her to treatments; and tell your friend these are the things you can do.”  Willingness and boundaries.

Whether you’re out of a job or working at changing careers, your daily life is full and has its frustrations.  You have to know how much you WILL do to move yourself forward, and what your boundaries are. . .what you WON’T do.  You need to sit yourself down and have a heart to heart with the person you see in the mirror:  “What am I willing to do and not do?”  “What feels like the right thing for me to do?” (always an unerring pointer to one’s correct behavior.)  The heart and mind and path ahead are always clearer after conversations like this.

Your family wants you to spend as much possible time on job hunting.  Your soul needs time for yourself, and the family needs time with you.  If you’re seeking your NEXT, you also have a day job, a family and a dream of your possibilities.  You have to be deliberate about how you allocate your time:  your future, your family, you.  If you get real obsessive in one area or the other, bitterness often follows and it’s often because you’ve left yourself out of the equation.

Ask yourself willingness and boundary questions so you can feel at peace with your work and job seeking activities, to keep your hectic life in balance. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Tha Kid Came Home

He smiles through the screen door, with the “Mom, I’m home!” that always captured your heart.  He left home several years ago; but he’s come back because he can’t find a job.

Remember your own leave-taking?  You raced out the door to freedom.  In lean times, you ate ketchup sandwiches and Ramen; but you never returned home.

Well, THAT tradition’s changed.  USA TODAY recently reported that 62% of young adults get financial help from their parents who are increasingly becoming their landlords.

What do you do when The Kid comes home, unemployed, broke and discouraged?  How do you make this a successful but not cushy interlude for your darling battered by this economy?  Some young clients’ parents recommend:

1.  Set a time limit for the home stay, say, three months.  That can be extended, but it signals you’re a temporary rest stop, not an ultimate destination.

2.  Apply THIS Golden Rule:  He who has the gold makes the rules.  You’re not likely to set curfew for a 25-year-old, but you SHOULD have rules about helping with chores:  lawns, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.  It has to be the basis for staying.  “If you don’t do this, you can’t live here.”

3.  Apply this other fine rule: the payment of rent, even if it’s $20 a week.  It doesn’t cover the cost of The Kid being there, but it’s a reminder that life demands we pay our way.

4.  Require diligent job seeking.  Basement Boy is not allowed to huddle in his lair down there and tell you he’s job hunting on the internet.  BIG BOGUS PARENTAL FAKE-OUT.  Internet job search takes an hour a day.  He needs to get out the door.  His job is to find a job.

5.  Work SOMEWHERE: The mall, being a bouncer, room service delivery, fast food, pizza dude. . .the jobs that are always available.  One can get out of the habit of working.  It’s important to do SOMETHING.

6.  Communicate what other support you can provide and for how long:  Car or health insurance, gas, cell phones, money?  Do only what you can afford.

This should be a three- to six-month proposition.  As much as you all love each other, this arrangement tends to be hard on everybody: for the grown child moving home and not as a blazing success; for the parents, possibly quaking about their own job and retirement, taking on added expenses and rearranging their lives and space for this adored scion.

Your tendency will be to welcome, and sympathize, but to be too generous and vague about “the deal.”   You’ll regret that in a week.  Decide what feels right to you and what your family can afford, and communicate “the deal” and your expectations up front. 

Throw open the screen door, wrap The Kid in your arms, but get down to work at the kitchen table right away. Family respite visits, like business, succeed when clarity and expectations get communicated early.