It's been just over three months since I've had a place of full-time employment to call home. As I previously mentioned, this has been a first-time experience having gone from one professional opportunity to another without much of a break in between. Like much in life, there always seems to be discrepancies between what you envision vs. how reality plays out. If I am really honest—life in the "in-between," as I like to call it, is a strangely ambiguous mixed bag filled with both blessings and challenges. Here's what I'm learning as I navigate this space, and maybe it could be of help to others who find themselves there now or sometime in the future...
Take The Time To Tend To Your Personal Garden
By "personal garden," I mean your personal life. I don't know if it was fate, coincidence, or divine intervention, but my break came when I had (and still have) many personal challenges that need tending to. With a little bit of time looking into the rearview mirror, I wonder how I could have tended to these critical life challenges with a demanding full-time job at a demanding time in history. While I didn't ask for the break, its come with a silver lining of being able to weed, prune, and save some of the dying plants in my personal garden. I'm grateful that I was able to do this when it was needed most.
Reject The Ideals
Ideals are everywhere—you would think that a pandemic would have the reverse effect. Still, many of us wonder if we're baking enough sourdough bread or learning enough new hobbies or career skills during this time of reduced commutes and remote everything. Imagine being in between jobs as the world exists in a somewhat in-between space—somewhere between normal and abnormal, routine, and chaos. I find myself regularly questioning if I am doing enough of anything—networking, self-improvement, applications, etc. etc. The single most challenging part for me is reminding myself that the ideals out there of how this time should be spent are not custom-tailored for my life. Life in the in-between is a personal experience. There is no right or wrong way and everyone has to find their own path without an instruction manual or tour guide. Rejecting what you perceive is the ideal way to navigate this strange state of being is probably the best gift you can give yourself.
Put Your Faith In Karma
Nobody tells you that you're going to look at so many of your professional peers who are in seemingly secure jobs with companies on your wish list and wonder what you did wrong to end up on the sidelines. It doesn't put you in a natural state to want to help others when you are grappling with helping yourself. And this is exactly the moment when you have to put your faith into something bigger than yourself and think of others while resisting the temptation to only think of yourself. So call it Karma, the universe or a higher power, but living life in the professional in-between means you are going to be networking and that gives you the opportunity to help others even if they are already gainfully employed. Do it if you get the chance—it's healthy and it's putting positive energy into this world which will come back to you in some way, even if it's only knowing that you're trying to make a positive impact somewhere.
Exercise Your Body + Mind
I was fortunate enough to order a Peloton while I was still employed full time and it was delivered during the still early-ish days of my in-between—another signal from the universe. It's been a lifesaver as I've found that getting the heart rate up, breaking a good sweat and the bonus of feeling connected to a community is a perfect life hack for staying regulated during a time that feels highly unregulated. The same goes for the mind—I recently penned a thought piece for a well-known tech company that required dusting off some cobwebs and tapping some memory muscle. I was glad to do it, and it made me realize how important it is to keep the mind and body sharp and ready.
Be Open To Multiple Possibilities
In my first few weeks, a number of really perfect potential opportunities manifested only to disappear as quickly as they came. This experience forced me to adjust my mental construct from trying to shape my next move as the perfect role at the perfect time, to be open to a number of possibilities including opportunities that could eventually lead to something else or building my own thing incrementally or moving into different directions or fields that I had not anticipated. Being open to multiple possibilities is freeing in some ways and complex in others—you have to balance where you could make an impact without opening the aperture too broadly and spinning your wheels in the process. But better to be flexible and pliable than rigid.
Life in the in-between can so easily be misinterpreted as something you'd envision as the extended vacation or sabbatical you've always dreamed of. I'm sure some have successfully written books and launched new ventures during this time—necessity is after all the mother of all invention. What I am most curious about is how I look back at this experience a year from now. Will I remember it as a moment of reflection, of reinvention, or something else? That's all TBD as the story is still being written but I thought I'd take a moment to pause as I work through this phase of life.