How To Have an Unusual Career: Step 2

Friday I posted How to Have an Unusual Career: Step 1. Today is the second part of that. Basically, Friday’s post was about how it’s okay to have an unusual career. It’s okay to be unusual. Sometimes unusual careers happen by choices, sometimes it happens because a weird series of circumstances lines up and we’re just along for the ride, trying to hang on.

No matter how ordinary your career is, you’ll likely feel like part of it is unusual. And that has to be okay. So, what if your career is so freaking awesome that you want to share the spoils with friends and family? What if you are so fulfilled and excited about it, and want people you care about to taste career fulfillment? You are discouraged by hearing them complain about all the things wrong with their job and how they dread going to work on Monday, and you know there are better options.

You just want to share.

have an unusual career by sharing

Or, you have found ways to increase your earnings and it’s something your friends and family could do. They could earn more, sometimes significantly more, than what they are earning now. And maybe they’d enjoy it, to boot!

Let’s go back to my friend’s message to me… I’ll break it down and answer parts as we go along:

Since I started doing _______ work (basically, an unusual career) in 2019 and other online teaching, writing and content creation effort, I started to see many revenue and growth opportunities outside the 9-5

Ah, you have tasted of the forbidden fruit. You have learned that your “revenue and growth opportunities” are not limited to what your employer offers you. As you learn to earn money outside of your boss’s control you gain a sense of personal and professional confidence. You create your own “job security,” or what I’ve called “income security.” Congratulations for getting on the path to have an unusual career… a path you architect. A path you can manipulate. A path you can intentionally pivot from. This is your present and your future, and you can make it as rewarding, fulfilling, and fun as you want it to be!

and I did my best to share it with friends and people I love around me but unfortunately very few people seem to relate. I was only able to convince a single person [to follow my path].

Aha. Sounds like you have done a bit of what I’ve done. You find something awesome, your life is changed, and you want to share that with others. This happens all the time, actually. Someone finds an incredible doctor and they recommend all their friends to that doctor. You find a better household widget and you tell all your friends about it. Someone finds love and peace at a church and they invite others to it. A homeschool mom find freedom and safety in homeschool and she invites her friends to look into it.

You have found things you weren’t getting in your 9 to 5 and you invite “friends and people [you] love” to taste this career forbidden fruit. And for various reasons, no one want to sniff or nibble it.

Honestly, this could be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they look at you and think, “I have it better than him right now. Why would I change that?” Or, what you tell them is too fantastical. Or, they feel too invested in their own path and switching careers feels like they are throwing years of hard work away.

One of the things I’ve found is that too many people have a hard time believing they are worth more, better, even career happiness. This sounds bizarre but the idea of what a career is is so ingrained in some of our minds that deviating it, and getting on a path to have an unusual career, seems like going against the universe.

There are many reasons people aren’t going to believe you, or believe what you have could be theirs, or think they are worthy of the change, or that what has worked for you will work for them. It’s complex. Sometimes the fault lies in how you communicate it. Many times it lies in stuff way outside of your control. Don’t put this on yourself.

Also, timing. Maybe it’s the right thing for them but the wrong timing.

have an unusual career respect timing

The issue I am facing right now is that I started to feel that I am out of sync with my close friends. They currently have a highly focused career thinking and struggle to understand or see the potential of the online world (note: they are ALL in the IT) and find it hard to see [an unusual career] as a source of trustworthy business.

Totally here with you. I have some fun plans for the future and have come to realize many of my friends won’t be able to join me. The biggest issue I’m finding, at my age, is time. Because of what I’ve done for the last 15+ years I’ve created a flexible work environment. I have designed my work so I can work from anywhere, and mostly work when I want to. But my friends can’t go on trips with me because they only have a few weeks vacation each year, and it’s all spent on their family (as it should be).

Here’s what I’ve come down to: my friends are my friends. They are an important part of my life. I need them, and I hope to give to our friendship in a way that they value me.

At the same time, I’ve found I need to meet knew people who have the flexibility and means to do some of the other things I want to do. This is going to sound weird but last year I met some new friends, not to replace my old ones, of course, who are retired. I was introduced to this retirement lifestyle that kind of blows my mind. In the hours and hours we talked, rarely did we talk about work or careers. It was so different.

And they had the time and desire to do some fun things.

Read this careful: I’m not saying to replace your friends. I’m just inviting you to expand your friend circle.

Besides that, I feel bad that their huge potential is locked to full time jobs.

I see this, too. However, when their timing is right they’ll be able to tap into you. This is the horse-to-water conundrum. Bring the horse to water now and it might not be thirsty. But when the horse is thirsty it will drink.

have an unusual career can be a lonely path you can't force on others

Your friends might never be thirsty for what you are creating. That’s okay. Your friendship isn’t based on what they do for a living. Maybe, for them, they’ve exceeded anyone’s expectations and have put themselves on a career path that is way, way better than what they ever thought. Maybe they are super fulfilled. Maybe they have balanced a great career with other obligations (family, hobbies, etc.).

It’s great you see huge potential for them. Invite them. Model what “huge potential” means. Be available to share and mentor when they are ready. But respect their decisions.

I’ve found too many of us need to have an unusual career because of the way careers are today, and our parents and other career mentors who are a couple decades ahead of us can’t really guide us effectively. The formula that worked for them can’t work for us. It’s a different world. This means we are all kind of feeling around in the dark trying to figure out what works. Some of us will learn from others. some of us have to pave our own stubborn path. It’s all okay.

Life is more than just career “success.”

I started to feel alienated and not having people in the same frequency spectrum to share and discuss with.

This goes back to the idea of expanding your friend circle. Find people you can relate to better, and dig deep to hang on to why you were friends with them in the first place.

Also, here’s some hard truth: friends shift. Sometimes, a friend that is great for you now won’t be great for you next year. Maybe you are great for your friends now but you won’t be great for them next year. I mourn losing friends but I can’t force something that has run its course and isn’t meant to be. Figure out how you want these shifts to be. No hard feelings, no burnt bridges, just a natural, kind, loving transition.

I started to think to introduce new friends with similar way of thinking, but with my limited time it will be in the expense of the current dear ones. Frankly speaking, it feels for me selfish and materialistic just to think about friendship from this dimension, but I still need similar minded people to grow and learn.

This is not selfish. This is a natural evolution of being unusual, and setting yourself on an unusual path. Invite others, but be ready for them to not be ready. Be kind, loving, and available, but if they choose to keep their awesome IT job, that’s fine, too.

You need to do what’s best for yourself and your family. Obviously, you are doing some hard and unusual things, and they are working for you. Kudos for being brave, and for caring about those you love, enough to have this upset you. When they are ready, you’ll be ready. Until then, continue working on your unusual path, and enjoy your friends as much as you can.

have an unusual career path and still have friends

What are your thoughts and suggestions around this?

I’m going to sum it up with this… many of the bits I’ve shared above support and build on this idea:

Have an Unusual Career by Inviting Others