location vs. vocation

We all know that for years it has not been a favorable job market. For every open position, there are usually hundreds – if not thousands – of applicants vying for that coveted spot, with some markets being even more competitive than others.

No longer are these the times when you have your pick of prime positions in the area you desire. Nor is it the kind of job market where you could pack up and move to the city of your choice and then go about finding that perfect job.

When we began our journey to find a new “home” outside of SoCal, we went about it methodically, from narrowing down our list to cities/states we liked but also met our criteria for not just professional opportunities, but also personal preferences. I had nearly 20 years worth of experience under my belt working on some pretty big brands. When a strong regional agency in a city we liked began to simmer up their interest, we took the plunge and moved (albeit not permantently…we initially kept the place in HB in case things didn’t turn up the way we were dreaming).

But then the “dream” job didn’t exactly materialize. Granted, I was able to create something that was pretty close, but it did divert me from what I have felt was my passion…writing advertising. A good 3.5 year stint there created some good work, connected me to some good people, and helped pay the mortgage on a new house. Seeing the writing on the wall (or was that my own brain graffiti?), I convinced myself that it was time to explore an opportunity with a local TV station doing something I had never done before….media sales. I told myself that it was really about building and maintaining relationships while giving me more control over the money I would be making. I drank the koolaid and took the plunge, walking away from an opportunity that I knew in my heart would never be available again in this market. But my mind can come up with quite the compelling reasons why while drowning out the advice I was getting from a few other people near and dear to me.

But I have come to a strong realization lately – focusing on money can get you into trouble. What happens when you don’t have the desire to chase that money day after day? What happens when you’re invested in a town that might not ever have the the true opportunity I moved for in the first place?

I’ve read lots of advice about following your passion and the rest will follow. But what do you do when you have a mortgage but it doesn’t come with a field you can plow up to build that baseball field? It’s not like I’m back as a 20 something that can fall back on my bartending experience to pay the rent or have the flexibility to pack up and move wherever. There’s another grownup in the equation, and their desires and desired lifestyle matter in said equation.

What takes precendence in deciding that big next step? Do you stick with your vocation and turn all your energy to finding the right position that will help you fulfill it, no matter where it is? Or do you stick with the location you’ve grown to love and make the most of whatever you can turn up, even if it means living outside your comfort zone having to constantly stay on the hunt for that next new client until something else comes up? Will we ever get back to the days when you could have your cake, and it eat it too because it really wasn’t that bad for you.

I’m not sure what the answer is. What I am sure about is that I will be asking myself a lot of questions in order to determine who’s first, what gets second priority, and I don’t know who will pop up to be part of the solution.

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