Ingredient #4: Stream and the un-career

Stream. Or, well, Big Sur. Isn’t it amazing? Go here. I mean, a few of you.

When I was 10, I wanted to be a news anchorwoman.  There was no question about it. I still remember deciding this one night, while my brother and I stayed the night with Dad at that hotel in Hayward, California, when they put my doll Mary “on TV” (family joke) and we watched old Westerns.

(Later I realized my decision was, in part, due to my family’s obsession with the nightly news: they were {gasp} our heroes. I’m looking at you, Jean Enersen,  Jeff Renner, Jane Pauley, and Bryant Gumbel.)

Except for how I also wanted to be a writer (first book: The Cat. Thanks, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and Stephen King.)

Detective Vlachos
Detective Vlachos. Original “art.” Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen.

Until, that is, I realized my destiny was to become a psychologist (but then I met with the career counselor: too much math). This is not to be confused with my subsequent decision to pursue cultural anthropology (I had a particularly inspired professor of same topic). This was all followed closely by a near-miss career in philosophy (with absolutely zero idea of what this career would be) and ended with Mass Communication (no Communication). I won’t even mention the Business degree (pursuit).

You get the point.

At some stage I settled on a degree of “English” with a writing emphasis, due to its morphability into different careers, as I still had absolutely no idea of what I was going to be when I grew up.  Typical me, not wanting to commit.

Nearly 20 years later, my CV reflects this same spirit.  Or, as one recruiter said, “She certainly has a non-traditional resume.” Or perhaps that’s how I like to remember what she said.  Really it might have been closer to, “This career path has a lot of turns.” I think she meant accidents.

It’s the ultimate un-career.

I’ve been a Human Resource Manager, Legal Advocate, Technical Writer, Community Relations contractor, and Engagement Manager (Title Case!).  I’ve worked for colleges, health systems, and start-ups including a small international non-profit. I’ve tutored kids (new respect for teachers after that) and been in Compliance and the Insurance industry.  I’ve started my own businesses and failed.

Then I decided that the decision didn’t matter.  What mattered was Stream.  One of the key ingredients, Stream ensures that whatever you care about is powered by something. That might be a stream of income at a job. It may be a trade or an arrangement you have with another person. It could be your own part-time self-employment income.  But it’s sufficient to power you though so you can get to your other ingredients.

This Steam, I decided, did not need to be connected to my passion(s) (there are many!).  It’s a common stated desire to find a job that is “something you love.” Naw.

They can be separate.

It’s not that you do not do the best you can every day for that Stream – I did. I took every opportunity to learn from each job as much as I could, and apply it not only to the work I was doing for pay but also for my own life goals.

For now, life is short: try as many streams as you’d like, and be sure to enjoy the view and lessons from each. Add an un- to your career.

Maybe your parachute is a whole rainbow, or not even charted as an RGB. We’ll explore more options for Stream here at You Big Talker soon.

Have you had a traditional career path?  Do you want to make a change? What advice can you share?

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