career-puz.jpgOur local library asked me to speak in the fall about career reinvention. Based on the types of books readers are checking out, the program manager for adult programs at the library figured that would be a great topic to draw a crowd.

The request immediately got me thinking about what I’d do if I could do something other than journalism.

Yes, even I ponder doing other things. And most of the people I talk to say they also dream about different careers.

A mini poll on Twitter this morning turned up a host of responses to this question I posed:

if you could switch jobs immediately/what would it be?

Anonymous replied: travel photographer..

@ontimeconcierge After film production, backstage mom, prof organizing + parenting. what do butterflies do?

@biggreenpen Immediate switch? proofreading/copyediting — bring it on!

@debexo I would luv to help former Soviet Union counties build process/systems 2 deal w/their growing elderly populations.

@debexo said she’s going for her public administration master in the fall, and can do it because: “I have that time now 2 build 4 2nd part of life (after children).”

Having two little kids and having studied Russian with plans to travel there but never making it, I’m sort of envious of @debexo.

I wrote @debexo that “if that’s what you want, go for it!”

She replied: “TY 4 encouragement!”

I’ve written a lot about reinventing your career, and one of the hardest things is seeing yourself doing a new thing, said Nancy Salzman, Dean, Extended Education at Brandman and Chapman Universities.

Salzman said:

“Whether you just lost your job or see the handwriting on the wall in your industry, you have to step out of your industry and say, ‘What’s my skill set?’ in general terms, not industry specific.”

If you’re in the mortgage industry, for example, she continued, you are probably good at reading and understanding regulations or have a great attention to detail, she says. Or if you were on the assembly line in manufacturing, you probably have some mechanical, technology or quality assurance skills.

Make a list of your skills and plug those keywords into a search on the major job sites to see what you come up with, she says. That can be a great starting point for your reinvention exploration.

This can be really hard for Baby Boomers who are more likely to have spent many years doing one thing for one company during their careers, as opposed to Gen Xers, and Gen Yers.

I fall into the Gen Xers category, and I’ve had no problem with moving from employer to employer. But, I’ve pretty much stayed in the same career.

It seems like this group can be pretty adaptable, at least that’s what I found when I reported on Gen Xers and career reinvention.

This generation never had any illusions that an employer would take care of them for life, says Neil Howe, economist, demographer and co-author of “Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069.”

“Generation X never expected any security,” he says, adding that the mentality of the company man or woman was dead by the time these individuals entered the workforce.

They are also a resilient lot, he adds. “From the time they were kids they were taught to raise themselves. They were the latchkey kids with the new realism of Judy Blume,” he said, referring to the author of children’s books that tackled issues such as divorce and teen sexuality.

In contrast to the younger Generation Y group with their overprotective parents and baby boomers still pining the loss of the gold watch days, Gen Xers never “trusted that the world or anyone was going to take care of them,” he says.

All that said, it’s scary for anyone to really make a change from what they know and are comfortable with.

I ponder going to law school to study labor law. I also wouldn’t mind taking a crack at jewelry making, or owning a cafe someday.

So, have I gotten off my butt to look into any of these? Sort of.

1. I’ve begun downloading through iTunes U free labor law lectures from major universities.

2. I like to buy ;-) jewelry.

3. And I’ve started homing my sandwich making skills and even started sending the recipes to friends.

Here’s my latest creation, the Veg-Eve-Wrap:

1 whole wheat wrap
1/4 cup lentils (buy the already prepared ones.)
1 slice of aged gouda
small bunch of arugula
1 roasted red pepper
olive oil (about a half a tablespoon, or whatever your grease
tolerance is)
balsamic vinegar (about the same as the oil, but you can go crazy)
sea salt
ground black pepper

Put it all in the wrap and nuke it for 30 second.

How about you? What would you do if you could change your career tomorrow? Have you taken any exploratory steps?

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