I have always loved the concepts found in “Who Moved My Cheese” and how they correlate to life’s changes. But, when one is in the process of not just one of those changes, but many at once, it can be stressful. Here is my situation:
I had a wonderful job at the City of Garden Grove for ten years. I loved the job and I loved the people! I was working hard, moving up, networking, managing, schmoozing, and enjoying the benefits of working for a municipal government in Southern California. The hours were such that we had every other Friday off. This gave me a nice three-day weekend to do a lot of mini-trips or just relax. Therefore, I did not feel the need to take much vacation time. I was getting into the “Use it or lose it” territory, so I decided to take some time off.
One of the trips I took led me to Japan. This trip changed my life. On this trip, I met a wonderful woman who would one day become my wife. In my mind, everyone in the world wanted to move to the U.S. but I was wrong. She had no intention of moving to the U.S. She had a job and responsibility in Japan. I thought about it: How could I expect her to move to the U.S. if I was never even willing to move to Japan. That small seed of possibility grew. As our relationship progressed, the idea of me moving to Japan didn’t seem too outlandish any more. By the time I asked her to marry me, I had made my decision to move my life to Japan to be with my wife.
So, there are certain life events that are considered to be the most stressful for people. Marriage, change of jobs, and moving to a new place are three of the largest stressors. I just had to do all three at once! I survived. I wouldn’t change it for anything; in fact, I’m now more open to new changes.
When I first moved to Japan, I took on a part-time job doing website maintenance. It was a job I knew how to do, but I had no passion for it.
My love was working with communities. But how was I to do that in a foreign country where I didn’t know the language? I took Japanese lessons, but it would be years until I could communicate easily. I knew there was a U.S. military base near where we live, but I had not looked into anything like that before. I search online for the base and its location. That led me to see about jobs on the base. There were not many openings, and of those, there were few that would let me interact with the public. The first job I got was working in the Marine Corps Exchange in security. It was easy; I was Security Police long ago when I was in the Air Force. It was boring, but my foot was in the door.
To my supervisor at the time, I made it known about me wanting a more public job. He was fine with that, as long as I kept him informed. Within a few months, I applied for, interviewed, and got a job in Special Events. Finally, I’m working with the public again! We put on events such as Summer Concerts, Tree Lighting, Marine Corps Ball, etc. Having emceed many events in the past, I have been able to easily move into a position where I can be in the public.
I consider this to be a transition job, as well. While I do like it a lot, I need to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Right now, there is no light. My current manager has a long way to go before retirement. He’s great at what he does, and I’m not the type to try to push someone out. But, I need to look to my own career. In my past job, I got used to being the manager. I got used to more strategic planning, rather than just be given tasks to complete throughout the day. I enjoyed being not only the manager for major projects, but a counselor for employees. Even employees who did not work directly under me in the chain of command came to me for advice.
Quick reference from above:
- Had a great government job,
- Fell in love with a Japanese woman,
- Got married,
- Quit the great government job,
- Moved to Japan,
- Got a government job on a local U.S. military base.
Although I have thrown my life in the air and walked away from my 5-year and 10-year plans to be with the woman I love, that doesn’t mean I can’t start a new 5- and 10-year plan; it’s just more of a guide now rather than a strict rule book.
No matter what the project, I have been able to collaborate with a wide variety of people to get many difficult tasks accomplished. I know that no matter what job I get in the future, I will still be able to do so. When approaching a problem, my attitude has consistently been “How can it be done? What are our possibilities?” rather than the pessimistic, “It cannot be done, because of…”
This “How can it be done?” and “Can do!” attitude has served me well and I believe it will continue to do so. Many supervisors have complemented my out-of-the-box thinking and they always had me at strategic planning meetings and committees for this reason. So, I’m not as worried any more about where my life and my career will go. I know I have a good work ethic and I know I will constantly try to do the best for my family, my job, and my community. These will stay the same no matter what job I have, where I live, or who I’m with.
Change is good.