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 Post subject: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:31 pm 
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I see people starting new businesses or foundations, creating new ways of doing something, tackling problems people haven't tackled before, establishing new cultural institutions.

An old friend of mine started a thing to introduce sewing and textile arts to kids, and I think, "Wow! Good for her!" I read about a small maverick game studio in Portland that's finding success with projects that create niches of their own, and I think, "Wow! Good for them!" I have these moments all the time, where I see someone creating something meaningful, and I think, "I want to do that!"

Well, not that, exactly. I don't know or care about sewing. Or computer games. But surely I care about something that would lead to... something meaningful for me. It wouldn't necessarily be a business. It wouldn't necessarily be activism. There are a million ways of changing the world, most of which have yet to be tried, or even dreamed up. But although the possibilities are endless, I am at a loss. (My natural pessimism doesn't help.) I know that my current poorly-paying job (freelance editor and writer) isn't cutting it. It's not meaningful. It's not lucrative. All it has going for it is flexibility. Of course, if I approached it in a responsible, grown-up way, it would be way less flexible because I'd be way busier.

So where do I turn? What questions should I be asking? How can I become (and stay!) inspired? I'm not asking, "Where should I look for a job?" but "How can I build something—beyond a job—that matters to me?"

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:49 pm 
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Oh Footie, I love this and you for posting it. I'm in the same boat and I wish I had a way of figuring this out for myself as well. Sadly I have no clue. I assume that I don't network enough or think outside the box enough. I'm not giving up on finding a job I actually appreciate and love but in the mean time and going forward I'm trying my hand at volunteering with hopes that it gives me something to be happy about. Also hoping that it makes me feel like I'm doing some good with my time and something good for the world.

The other day I applied for a job with a company who makes socks. Really cute awesome socks. The company looks fun and upbeat and happy. Why can't I figure out how to do something awesome and cool like make rad socks and then turn it into a business that employees happy awesome people?

Also this Upworthy video that has been making the rounds about a pizza shop in Philly moved me to tears and made me feel all kinds of feels that go along with this topic of conversation, so I'm sharing.
http://www.upworthy.com/a-customer-walk ... st-it-note

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 6:52 pm 
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Maybe this seems too facile a suggestion, but have you considered volunteer work? Volunteering is one of the ways I figured out what I wanted to do with my life (and it helped me get my my existentially fulfilling job).

By way of explanation: About 10 years ago I was working at a useless job editing, so to feel like I was doing something worthwhile I volunteered with a nonprofit that made audiobooks for students with reading-related disabilities. Reading textbooks in this program helped me realize how much I missed higher ed, and helped me decide to go to grad school. After grad school, while in another not-so-fulfilling job (copywriting), I volunteered with a literacy program through my local library that helped tutor adult non-native speakers and their children. While I already knew I wanted to go into teaching, this program gave me a leg up when I actually worked up the nerve to apply for teaching jobs because I was used to working with nontraditional, diverse students (which ended up being the population I would teach at my current, beloved, meaningful-to-me job).

It might take a while to find an organization that is relevant to your interests, but working with an institution that is making a difference could jumpstart your own ideas about how you want to make a difference, if that makes sense.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:21 pm 
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I keep thinking about how to start something to get hygiene products for underprivileged kids. And fun stuff too like makeup. I've had students who always have to go to the nurse for menstrual pads. I always wanted to just buy them a big box, but didn't want to embarrass the, further or hurt their pride.

I'm not just thinking of girls, but every teenage girl needs a pretty lipgloss. at mini,um, should not be forced to,scrounge around, asking for basic hygiene products on their period. That's already embarrassing enough by itself for some girls.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:34 pm 
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I volunteered for a year at Seattle Central College as a GED and ESL tutor, and I really liked it. I think getting back to that or finding a different volunteer gig is a great idea. But I still need to find this... extra... thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:38 pm 
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I love my GED work most of all; it's the only thing I do that gives me any personal satisfaction. It's nice to know what you do is helping someone improve their life.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 8:03 pm 
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lavawitch wrote:
I keep thinking about how to start something to get hygiene products for underprivileged kids. And fun stuff too like makeup. I've had students who always have to go to the nurse for menstrual pads. I always wanted to just buy them a big box, but didn't want to embarrass the, further or hurt their pride.

I'm not just thinking of girls, but every teenage girl needs a pretty lipgloss. at mini,um, should not be forced to,scrounge around, asking for basic hygiene products on their period. That's already embarrassing enough by itself for some girls.


We have a program here that does backpacks for foster kids with the essentials that a child might need. Many of these kids are removed from their homes with nearly nothing, and as you say, a toothbrush, toothpaste, hygiene products etc can go along way to making you feel less unmoored.

Another friend of ours just helped set up a Food Not Bombs program in their town and it's doing wonderfully well and helping people, and the program gives you a lot of guidance and support to get your program off the ground.

Helping others always makes me feel grateful for what I have and grateful that I can afford to help.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 9:53 pm 
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They distribute backpacks like that, but that's a one time thing. I'm thinking about more luxurious feel good items as well as basics. For example, girls in my classes are always passing around and comparing their hand lotions. I'm sure it feels extra crappy not to have some too.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:26 am 
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Something I'm involved in is a tech group that helps women trying to break into tech careers as well teach disadvantaged girls about different things like programming. Working with the young girls (ages range from 12-14 usually), is pretty fun because the projects are fun like building robots, programming games and other various things.

Also, I'm part of some various groups that regularly have calls for volunteers. In our area, it is PyLadies (which seems to be across the US? Py stands for Python). There are also things like Girls Who Code and Django girls. I found out about my local groups through meetup.com. You don't even need to know a lot because they teach the basics. Usually if I'm not familiar with something specifically, I'll spend a few hours going over it, try things out myself in order to prep.

Anyway, that is just an example but I know many people who do it nearly full time and they are able to pull in volunteers to help teach, they ask various companies for supplies, they ask various companies for space to utilize, etc, etc. I'm not good at fund raising but some people are and they are able to get lots of other people help them in their endeavor.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 2:19 pm 
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I think for the last 35 years I've been hoping to receive a calling. I had friends who just knew what they wanted to do and who they wanted to be. They applied themselves. They worked at it. They kept learning and moving. And then there was me, just waiting. I felt intense pressure in college to know, and I never did. I knew what I wanted to study (linguistics), but was completely uninterested in even investigating the various ways I could apply that and turn it into a job, a career, an identity, or a life. And this is how it's gone ever since: I am a great Bider of Time, Squanderer of Potential, and Listener for the Call That Doesn't Come.

I think maybe—just maybe—I need to try a new strategy. Maybe passive disengagement isn't actually the best approach?

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 2:30 pm 
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I'm with you! I don't like to consider myself lazy. But I don't put forth the extra effort it takes to really work at things and have them pan out. I'd much rather be sleeping in on the weekends versus booking myself with extra things to do. I need a certain amount of down time for my own personal sanity.

I am going to try my hand at volunteering with the Feral Cat Coalition here in Portland for one Sunday a month. I think I can commit to that without issue. Also trying to do yoga once a week and then other workouts if I have some alone time and feel like it.

Just within the past few weeks I think I finally realized what my "calling" was supposed to be and I def missed the boat. I mean I guess it's never too late to do anything but I'm old now and I feel like all the hard work that would need to go into making it happen just isn't feasible for me anymore. So after I had a good long cry about it I'm trying to move on and just find some peace about things.

I'm finally starting to feel like my move from the burbs of Jersey to a small city like Portland is paying off. I've been able to transition out of things that kept me in a rut which is a good feeling.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 2:40 pm 
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FootFace wrote:
I think for the last 35 years I've been hoping to receive a calling. I had friends who just knew what they wanted to do and who they wanted to be. They applied themselves. They worked at it. They kept learning and moving. And then there was me, just waiting. I felt intense pressure in college to know, and I never did. I knew what I wanted to study (linguistics), but was completely uninterested in even investigating the various ways I could apply that and turn it into a job, a career, an identity, or a life. And this is how it's gone ever since: I am a great Bider of Time, Squanderer of Potential, and Listener for the Call That Doesn't Come.

I think maybe—just maybe—I need to try a new strategy. Maybe passive disengagement isn't actually the best approach?


Sometimes that calling just takes a while to find you. And sometimes that calling changes mid-life... (Not that I accept that I am that old). I was sure I was passionate about museum work. And I still am. But now, my calling is much more art centered.


My only suggestion is to explore anything that interests you even a little. Talk to people doing things that interest you and that they are passionate about. It isn't world changing advice, for sure. But passionate people tell wonderful stories about how they got there.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 2:44 pm 
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My only professional jobs have been at nonprofits working on causes I believe in which is "meaningful" I guess but I don't think it means I enjoy the actual work anymore than I would otherwise. It's still work. I would mostly like to someday make more than 30k a year.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:01 pm 
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strawberryrock wrote:
My only professional jobs have been at nonprofits working on causes I believe in which is "meaningful" I guess but I don't think it means I enjoy the actual work anymore than I would otherwise. It's still work. I would mostly like to someday make more than 30k a year.

What kind of positions have you done for non-profit?

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 4:14 pm 
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FootFace wrote:

I think maybe—just maybe—I need to try a new strategy. Maybe passive disengagement isn't actually the best approach?


Doesn't work for me either; you might be on to something.

I actually *had* a calling and was given the amazing opportunity to do it, then lost it through illness. I'd love to still do it but I'd need a lot of money and I'm too old.

(Studying Egyptology on a scholarship at the U of Chicago. If I could do anything right now, I'd go to grad school for geoarchaeology.)

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 4:24 pm 
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GraciaKai wrote:
strawberryrock wrote:
My only professional jobs have been at nonprofits working on causes I believe in which is "meaningful" I guess but I don't think it means I enjoy the actual work anymore than I would otherwise. It's still work. I would mostly like to someday make more than 30k a year.

What kind of positions have you done for non-profit?


I've mostly worked for very small nonprofits and worn a lot of hats, so volunteer coordination/communications/program management/outreach/fund development/etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 4:31 pm 
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I think you could easily transfer that to a job in the for profit world and make more money. Or attempt to stay in non-profit but move up the ladder so to speak with a bigger organization.

Jobs are just hard these days. Everyone wants their employees to work for nothing and be super powered human beings at the same time. And to make good money you need to have the perfect amount of experience paired with the perfect degree and the stars need to align. It's rough.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 4:39 pm 
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I understand the for profit world so little, like I don't really know what people do if they work for larger businesses. Like they...sell things? They have...departments? You have more than two coworkers? There's something called HR? Obviously big nonprofits have those things but I've never worked for one.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 4:54 pm 
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Kind of, but it depends on the company. There's big and small companies just like in the non-profit world. My old company was an environmental consulting company which I thought would be awesome and give me something to feel good about while working for them. But it turned out that environmental meant helping industries who pollute stay in business by preparing their permits for them and working on their behalf with the EPA. So things aren't always what they seem to be on paper.

But I would think you can easily transfer into a Receptionist or Administrative Asst. role and make more than 30k a year with benefits and paid time off. I'm job hunting right now and most of the ads I see on Craigslist for these roles are at least $15.00 an hour or maybe more. You would be answering phones, greeting customers, doing general clerical work, keeping the office stocked with supplies, helping out the management with whatever work the business actually does.

I interviewed with a vet who was looking for a receptionist doing all of those things for $15.00 an hour when I first go here. They didn't advertise the compensation on the job ad so I applied for it. There's all types of companies who need great support staff that pay well enough to make it worth it.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:00 pm 
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I don't want to be a receptionist because I'm really bad at being nice to people when they're annoying me. I think my career path I'm on right now is ok, I have a ton of responsibility at my job and the opportunity to learn new things and build my resume, and I'll be able to stay in my field and make more money eventually--it seems like a waste to throw away all the experience I have--but at the same time I don't think the fact that my work is "meaningful" makes it easier.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:05 pm 
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That makes sense, although I can understand how it's hard to wait for the money to come. It would probably be a waste if you've been building and know you want to continue to work in that field. You may just have to keep your eyes out for a better opportunity with a different non-profit.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:10 pm 
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There's a job I'm qualified for an interested in posted once a month or so. I've been applying. I've gotten one phone interview that did not turn into an in-person interview so far. Anyway, I'm totally derailing. Job searching sucks, and I have no idea how to have a meaningful endeavor, but I think most people don't enjoy their jobs that much and it's usually inevitable?

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:27 pm 
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I'd like to think that it's possible to love you job or at least find something your really good at and don't mind doing. I really loved working in the bridal industry and helping brides with their weddings. That felt meaningful to a certain degree when the customers were happy. But I wasn't making any money and eventually felt like I was being taken advantage of and was unappreciated. So I quit and went into office work instead. So far that hasn't been meaningful work at all. I don't feel like I'm doing any good in the world and my last job gave me more stress than I could deal with.

I think that the whole finding your calling thing is the important factor. Some of us (I guess) just don't have one. And so to be left with the outcome of working a job forever until you somehow manage to retire is depressing.

The other ideal is that you know what you want to do for work and you do it. Like lawyers for an example. I think it's pretty cool when someone figures out for themselves what they want to do for work and then they do it. It's a clear path from school to job and then making it into a career.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:50 pm 
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I kind of suspect that the idea that we're supposed to have a calling and that jobs are supposed to fulfill our souls in some significant way mostly makes people unhappy. But it's just a theory.

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 Post subject: Re: Meaningful endeavors
PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:57 pm 
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I agree! Your Money or Your Life talks about this, and I highly recommend that book to everyone.

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