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How to Harness Your Unlocked Potential and Thrive While Productively Unemployed


I'm entitling this first entry - "Genesis" - because I feel like I should be standing with a megaphone introducing this topic like this .....


In the Beginning


When I was 10 years old, my best friend and I used to pretend to be teachers and secretaries.  We pretended to be our favorite teacher – writing on the chalkboard, going over the lesson, and grading papers.  We would sometimes mimic the school secretary who answered the phone and handled all requests, including selling pencils and cough drops 😊.

As a child, I grew up pretending to work.  It was recreation. It was fun.


When I was 20 years old and in college, I wanted to work part-time to ensure that my resume would be filled with real-life experiences upon graduation.  Less recreation but part-time meant still a certain amount of fun. As a young adult, I felt it necessary to prepare myself in such a way that I would be appealing for the next phase of my early career. I did this by toggling studies and entry level jobs. It started being less fun but very necessary.


When I was 24 years old, I walked into a job without a care in the world. I didn’t have a long-term goal. I just wanted to work and do my job well.   I did just that.  I was recognized with promotions and awards within a very short time frame.   The next thing you know – 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 year milestones were celebrated.





On my 25th work anniversary, the company had a wide array of various gifts from which I could choose. I chose a Gucci watch. I’m not too sure why I selected it other than it was something I don’t think I’d ever buy for myself. Why not?


As a full-grown adult, it wasn’t about making choices and finding joy in employment as I once did at 10 years old.  It was about paying the bills. In fact, I once thought about going to law school until the first, second, third, and so on bills began to arrive with ‘pay by dates’.


I liked my job not because it was something that changed the world.  I liked it because I was good at it. I enjoyed the people around me. Oddly, I liked it because we badged into and out of a building.   You see – right before I landed the job that would ‘raise me up’ in the corporate world. I worked at a bank. The bank was robbed twice within 13 days. I gave my resignation shortly after the 2nd robbery. I followed my now ex- husband to Georgia and was grateful for the job with badge in hand & great security. Truth be told, I think, I suffered from PTSD for many, many years following those robberies. (But that entire story is for another day). 


As the years passed, I worked hard to ensure that I was performing well and making an impact.  I took great pride in ensuring the relationships formed along the way were built on a solid foundation of trust. I was the trusted advisor to several executives. Their success was my success (and failures mine). If there was a question that needed to be answered – a mystery to be solved, my determination kicked into overdrive.   This sometimes came at the sacrifice of my own personal time.  


I recall one night my then boyfriend (and now husband) walked into my office, turned off the light, and said it’s time to get up from the desk.   I’d worked multiple days in a row  - well over 40 hours by the middle of the week.  In the most protective way possible, he was over it. Even when I worked long hours, I always said ‘Thank you Lord for the Job’. If I murmured a complaint, shortly after the complaint I’d say ‘Thank you Lord for the Job’.   When I surpassed each milestone, I would say, ‘Thank you Lord for the Job’.   It was a reminder to myself that I should be ever so grateful. I would remind myself of all the ways the job was flexible when I was going through the scariest time of my life.


I was tricking myself that I sometimes owed it to this place of employment to give more than I had to give sometimes at the expense of myself and others who loved me. Every year, I would see layoffs happening around me within the company. I’d managed to dodge the bullet, if you will, by being ahead of the curve – finding another job internally.  


In 2018, I was in the process of dodging another ‘bullet’ because my role was going away.  I interviewed for two different internal jobs. What do you know? I was offered both of them. I had the very tough decision of figuring out which job I’d take. I toiled over the decision. I wondered which one had the most potential for growth – exposure – best team dynamics, etc.   When I selected one job over the other, I referred and recommended a former teammate to the role I turned down. He was hired. And, here’s the irony about making that choice -- he’s still with the company as far as I know, and I am pounding the digital, job-seeking pavement.

So much has changed since I last sought and interviewed for a job externally. I had an interview one day, and my mom asked me if I got the job. I had to tell her that's not how it works anymore mom. There are multiple interviews that span days, weeks, and possibly months. I further explained the meaning of ghosting to my 83 year old mom. Yes, my mom knows about ghosting, rejection letters, phone screenings, video interviews, STAR format, and career coaches.

In 2023, my mantra was keep rowing.

In 2024, my mantra is persist.



I will use my blog to explore this whole new world of #opentowork (widely used by LinkedIn users). More than anything, this is my space to write, relate, and release. It's as personal as it gets & meant to just allow me the space to exhale through this season that in the end will certainly contribute greatly to my growth.


*Tip #1 : Do not let self-doubt/talk consume you. Instead, recall a moment when you were most proud of yourself (personally or professionally). Focus on it and recount the ways that the moment had you standing tall & why you felt that way. You are worthy, qualified, and ready! Remember that!


Productively Unemployed,


Carletta

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