Staying Motivated

*Photo: RyanSecrest.com

About a week ago, I hit the six month mark. It was six months since I got laid off due to downsizing.

The moment I got the news, I convinced myself I’d get another position in less than three months. It didn’t happen. Then, I decided I’d get something after four months, and so on. But here I am. Six months in and still looking.

I read an article the other day that said one in two recent college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed. What a scary statistic. However, in an odd way, it’s almost comforting for the sheer fact that it’s a reminder that I am not alone. Thousands of other recent college grads are still looking for that first post-college job, might have only found internships, or may be like me and just have awful timing.

So here I am, six months into my latest step in my career’s journey. What I believe is most important is staying motivated. I’ve known a number of people both older and younger than I who have been laid off.

Recently, I found myself talking to a marketing professional at a networking event. She told me her story about how she worked for years interning and interning (like myself) and by the grace of God, stumbled into her dream job. She loved it and couldn’t believe her luck and was proud that her work finally paid off. However, after a few years, she found herself cleaning out her desk due to a lay off. She was stunned.

She spent the next few months bouncing between cities, couch surfing from one friend’s place to another, and eventually spending a few months at home. Then finally, she found a job. Not her dream job but one she enjoyed and felt would lead her to a better place. A year into that position, she found an opening for a job even better than what she thought was her dream job. She now holds the position at a job even her dreams couldn’t make up.

Her story truly touched me. With details a tad different, her journey was not unlike my own. The only difference is, I’m still searching for that next gig. She inspired me to change my thinking that wherever I might wind up next might not necessarily be “the dream job” but it could sure as heck lead to it.

I’ve always been a big believer in the notion that everyone comes into our life for a reason. Be it your best friend, or your favorite college professor, or even the clerk at the grocery store, the Lord puts their world together with ours for a reason.

I kept this in mind after meeting and speaking with that professional. I felt as if God wanted us to meet to benefit us both. She was trying to tell a story to let me know I’m not alone, and for me, I couldn’t be more grateful to know that this stage of my life won’t last. It will get better.

I also couldn’t be more grateful for my network of friends across the country. Especially my friends in Charlotte and Chicago.

Recently, I stumbled across a new song on the radio. The song is called, “Shadow Days” by John Mayer. The first time I heard the chorus, I teared up because like John in the song, I feel, “my shadow days are over.” This song not only motivates me but reminds me this is just a phase.

The lyrics below are from this fantastic song:

“I’m a good man, with a good heart
Had a tough time, got a rough start
But I finally learned to let it go
Now I’m right here, and I’m right now
And I’m open, knowing somehow
That my shadow days are over
My shadow days are over now”

Laughing and Learning

I’ve always been a huge fan of comedy. I love the feeling of laughing and even more so love making people laugh. I remember being little and sneaking into another room on Saturday nights to watch “Saturday Night Live” when staying at my grandpa’s house. He thought it wasn’t exactly the best thing for a 6-year-old to be watching but these were the days of Mike Meyers, Chris Farley and Will Ferrell. I might as well been watching the best cartoons ever because they all put their all into every sketch.

In high school and college, I took improv and wrote sketches for different shows I was in. I loved being able to write sketches and use them as an outlet for my creativity. When I applied to my college, I even ended up applying as a Screenwriting major because I wanted to be the next Tina Fey – before she was considered cool. But after spending a summer following my motorsports columnist father around, I switched my major to Marketing Communications/Public Relations so I could one day work in motorsports public relations.

About a year ago I started taking improv classes at the Comedy Zone in Charlotte, N.C. I took classes in improv before but never like this where everyone in the class was an adult. It was awesome! Unfortunately, I have only done one round of classes thus far but plan on taking classes again as soon as possible.

The Comedy Zone hosts various stand-up comedians from around the world monthly. Last week, I was able to go with some friends to see one of my favorite comedians, Lynn Koplitz.

With a sharp tongue and a unique sense of humor, her jokes about life and people are simply hilarious. Throughout her set, she would “teach” the audience humorous facts about life through various observations. And every single one of these observations were 100-percent correct.

When I first began gaining an interest in improv, I purchased a book written by i.O. (Improv Olympic) in Chicago’s founders, Charna Halpern and Del Close.

The book called, “Truth In Comedy” is essentially a manual for first time improvisers. It discusses various improv games, techniques and more. The key to all of improv is simple: agreeing on a truth. The truth is on-stage agreement between performers. Without that truth, jokes don’t work and the audience just feels uncomfortable.

I’ve always tried to look for the humor in life. I’m the person who goes through a bad situation who not only looks for the positive side of things but the humorous side of things. The truth about life is the worst things to deal with can be easier to deal with if you have a sense of humor and look for the positive.

I guess you could say I approach life with an improv performer’s mindset but hey; who wants to be down about the bad things forever? Sometimes you just need to smile.

I think Bob Newhart said it best by saying, “Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.”