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Work and Life: Wants vs. Needs and What's Important

I know what I want, but do I already have what I need? It's time to contemplate life and the future, with or without a full-time job.

I’m starting to wonder – really, seriously wonder – if job-hunting efforts when you’re more than 50 and out of work for more than two years are a complete waste of time and energy. Is it all just a cruel joke at my expense and at the expense of millions of others like me?

I don’t think I can read one more article that tells me “just use these words in your resumé!”  or “make sure you close the sale!” or “don’t forget a firm handshake and eye contact!” or “get the most out of LinkedIn and Facebook!” – the implication being that if I just do all these things that the career coaches and recruiters and other “experts” say I should do, then I should certainly get “the job.”

Of course, the other, unspoken implication is that, if I take all their advice and do all those things and still don’t get “the job,” then hey, it must be me, right?

If it were only just a simple matter of making sure my LinkedIn profile is optimized for keyword searches.

Maybe my perspective on life would be better if I just end this search and figure out how to live a happy, fulfilled life according to my current financial means.  What good is it to be constantly stressed, dissatisfied, discouraged, disappointed?  Life is too short.

Sixteen years ago today, on May 1, 1996, my 45-year-old husband had a sudden heart attack, went into cardiac arrest, and died. At work. In his office. He’d been working long days in anticipation of a promised promotion and was already a Type A personality. What did he get for all his stress and striving and aggravation?  That dream job?

No. What he got was premature death and never having the chance to see our six-year-old boy grow up. He never had the chance to fulfill his dreams. I’m not saying his work directly caused his death, but I don’t doubt his stress and his personality, combined with his silent atherosclerosis and his smoking, led to his early demise.

I guess that’s why I’m in this kind of mood today. Even though it’s been 16 years, I’m still wondering if it’s worth it to stress and strain yourself to the point where you end up dead, at least in part, because of a job or because of trying to get a job. (I already posted last week that at least one study shows the chronically unemployed die sooner than we should.)

Of course it’s NOT worth it. What’s there to wonder about?

I think I'm just taking the time today to seriously think about life and why I’m here and what it all means. What’s important. What I want versus what I need right now.  What I can still contribute and how.

Do I truly need a full-time job? Even if the search for it makes me feel chronically stressed and discouraged? What is the tradeoff? Am I feeling blessed and optimistic or is my disillusionment about my job prospects making me unable to appreciate every day and every joy with my loved ones – all the good things I do have? Am I doing this because I fear that stopping makes me a “quitter” or means I’m “old”?

There must be a way to find personal fulfillment and help make a better world and care for my loved ones while still meeting our financial needs. I’d really like to be the happy, cheerful me again.

I’m not giving up on my dreams. It’s just that today, I’m thinking that the time has come to recast them.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Darlene Sneden May 02, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Sometimes we have to change our dreams. And that's perfectly okay.
Fran Hopkins May 03, 2012 at 09:04 PM
I agree, Darlene. It's okay, but it may not be easy, to make those adjustments. Still, if you have to, you have to -- it can be done.
Fran Hopkins May 04, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Keith, you're right, this is a possibility that the long-term unemployed should consider and explore. Do you have more information about the program you mention -- perhaps a website link? This could be helpful for many of us. Thanks.

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