In this economy where a valued employee on Friday becomes a laid off and
yesterday’s news on Monday, it’s critical to start preparing for a new
vocational life which is more resilient and more fulfilling. I’ll be right
there with you on your journey.
My belief in what I am writing about started back when I was sixteen years old.
Growing up with just my mother, I was very close to my grandfather who very
sadly passed away when I was sixteen. As he lay in the bed the day before he
died, I stood watching him, not knowing at the time that I would be the last
person to see him alive. I loved my grandfather. When I was young, he came and
watched me compete in track and field, took me to the ball games, cheered me on
and was a true believer in me in whatever I choose to do. When my grandfather
passed away, it was only a few years after retiring from a large company where
he had worked for nearly 40 years. The company went out of business and therefore
my grandfather lost his pension and any retirement benefits he had hoped for.
So after 40 years of dedication, this loyalty was never to be repaid. I remember
when grandpa was turning close to sixty; he would get up six days a week, take
the bus downtown and work in a back office building trophies.
This was to have been his retirement golden years; instead he was forced to work
at minimum wage six days a week at sixty years old. No pension, no benefits and
later no chance to enjoy a limited source of social security. At age sixteen, I
watched my grandfather die from a terminal illness.
Unfortunately, he never got the chance to enjoy his golden years and I believe
died an unhappy man. I reflected upon this and thought, What a shame, how sad
that this had to be this way. While there are some things in life we can't
control, like earthquakes, rain and income taxes, there are things we can
control as we live our lives. Each day we can strive to fulfill our dreams, our
goals and most importantly find inner harmony and peace within ourselves. I
didn't realize it then, but my grandfather taught me a lesson that I would begin
to understand as I grew older.
Just seventeen years later, my thoughts would become much clearer on this subject.
My mother, who had raised me and worked many years to support the two of us,
would also die of a terminal illness just as she entered retirement. She died
very unhappy, very poor, and with much debt.
Here is a woman who worked all of her life to raise one child all by herself. She
daily went to work through long commutes, bad weather and a lonely life as a
single parent. Each day, she dragged herself out of bed at five in the morning to
begin the long journey downtown.
She put some savings away in a bank account that never grew very much throughout
the years. She too passed away before she could enjoy her retirement. She was
only 53 years old.
I was with my mom when she passed away, just as I was with Grandpa. . She looked
at me during her last few minutes of life, told me she loved me and I could see
in her eyes, how unhappy she had been. She never got to do the things in life she
dreamed for. She never got to spend the money; she both dreamed for and never had.
She too, died very unhappy.
That experience turned my life around. It made me wonder: How could this happen?
In a society that is so full of opportunities to do whatever one wants, how could
a person live their life for 53 years and die so unhappy, sad and lonely?
Years after mom died, my grandma who I was also very close to died in her 90’s.
She always used to ask me , ‘’Bagel (this is what she called me), are you happy?
Does this make you happy? Do whatever you like as long you are happy. I think she
understood me the most.
When mom and grandpa died, I was too afraid and sad to attend their funerals. When
grandma died however, somehow I found the strength and courage to attend. I brought
my wife and at the time our two younger children with me. In our tradition, the
casket was lowered into her grave and all of us took turns with the shovel throwing
a pile of dirt on top. When it was my turn, I somehow found the strength to lift
that shovel. I guess seeing my kids do this along with flowers I might add, gave
me the strength. I’ll never forget the sound, ‘’thump’’ as the dirt hit the casket.
On one hand it was closure. On the other hand, it was a new chapter to answer the
question, ‘’Am I happy’’? This time however, I knew it wasn’t a question I only
wanted to answer for myself but for others as well.
So with my thoughts of grandpa, grandma and mom, I realized that there are many
people leading lives like this. I decided that I both wanted and needed to help.
It took many years later for this dream to realize itself but now as Your
Vocational Coach, my hope is that my work will help you think more about your own
possibilities to align your abilities and interests and in the process make your
life and the world around you just a little more meaningful and fulfilling. Have
a great and though provoking month.
Review and buy now more of Craig’s writing and research at:
The Vocational Coach (tm)
''Guiding you to discover and live your vocational passion''
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Phone 925-736-3952 Fax 925-736-5758