The Cold Penguin

expanding the box

Do what makes you happy

on August 22, 2013

I recently started reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I’m probably a bit behind the times with this book as I think it’s been out for a while, but I’m usually a bit behind the times in my reading (except for the Divergent trilogy – eagerly awaiting the release of the 3rd  book!).

I love book like these – that are inspiring and thought-provoking yet light and humorous at the same time.  Books like Eat, Pray, Love and Julie & Julia (which Gretchen mentions as influences on her Project and Book.)

I am on Chapter 3, where she talks about career.  I seriously thought about skipping this chapter.  I was afraid my lack of career/job right now would make this chapter to difficult to read.  It would just depress me more because I’m reading about people thriving and improving in jobs that fulfill them and here I am scratching and digging for ANY job.  But I decided against reading it, because the hope is eventually I will be able to use her advice.

And I’m glad I didn’t skip it.  I’m only half way into the chapter but it has given me plenty to think about.  Gretchen went to law school and had a prestigious internship in the law field.  Yet it was a job to her.  She didn’t crave it, she didn’t live it; it was fine but just a job.  She had a conversation with a friend who was going to school to further her career, and Gretchen made a comment to her friend about how horrible it must be to read the large and (to her) boring textbooks she saw lying around her friend’s apartment.  Her friend just shrugged and said it was on the topics she would read about for fun anyway, so it didn’t bother her any.

And that led to a moment of clarity for Gretchen.  What does she spend her free time doing?  In other words, what does she want to do or enjoy doing?  For her, it was writing.  She had written novels for fun (which seems like an incredibly daunting task to me!) and loved reading.  So at an opportune time in her life, she switched from law to writing as her profession.  And obviously, since I’m reading her book, it worked out very well for her, both career wise and happiness wise.

So that led me to think what do I do with my free time?  Take away all the responsibility of the home and family, how do I enjoy spending my time (or how would I prefer to be spending my time)?  That’s something I’m still unsure of and hope to find out in the near future.  Right now, I spend my time cooking (baking mainly), exercising, reading, and coming up with exercise routines.

I think the last one is more up my ally.  My hubby and I used to work out a lot together.  I would come up with exercise routines, and then I’d lead them at the gym with the two of us.  It was fun for me to come up with them and really satisfying when I created a really good one (tough but not impossible).

I’ve never been a personal trainer, but have worked in a gym and assisted people with their exercise routines on occasion.  I didn’t get a great deal of satisfaction from this job, but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t like personal training.  I let my personal training certification lapse – so I need to get recertified.  So I should put that on my 2013 end of the year goal.  Study and take the personal training certification examination.  I’ve had the books sitting on my desk for about a month now, but haven’t cracked them open.  In order to try this, I need to be certified.

In the meantime, I will put some thought into what else would I like to try?  I’m a homebody and tend to let my anxiety keep me at home.  But if I wasn’t letting my anxiety dictate my actions, what would I do?

My answers tend to be physical.  I have been going on occasion to group exercise classes and have enjoyed them.  I want to continue doing that.  I like it.

I would like to go out and ride a bike, Rollerblade, play tennis, swim, play on the playground.  That’s what I want to do.

And thinking about my past jobs, what did I like about those?  I can tell you zillions of things I didn’t like, but I don’t focus on the positive as much.

I had a job where I was in charge of their social media and blog.  I liked that, to a degree.  I didn’t get to come up with the idea for the blog and I found the overall topic a bit limiting and frankly, a bit dull.  I would have changed it if I could have after a month or two of blogging, but I didn’t have that option.  But I did enjoy the first few months after I ran out of things to write about (with the limiting topic base).

In a previous job, I got to create and coordinate events.  I enjoyed that.  Everything down to the little details of making signage and getting pencils together for the volunteers.  I like that.  But the lifestyle of having to put on events does not really suit the lifestyle I’d like to live (where I’m home every night and have a somewhat consistent schedule).

I’ve also been able to write newsletters, do research and create presentations on that research (fun when you enjoy the topic) and create handouts, brochures, booklets etc. for programs and presentations.  Those were challenging, but fun.

So, I have liked:

~ doing research and compiling information into a written form
~ organizing, scheduling and coordinating

So I need to find a way to blend the two: being active with research, writing, organizing and coordinating.

I guess I have a better idea of what I like than I thought.  Now comes the harder part: finding the right job and then getting the right job.

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