Bullish Q&A: Career Mobility, Decisions, And Interior Design

I am in need of some advice, because since last summer I did a very un-bullish thing.¬†Maybe I don’t believe in myself enough to think I could run my own business/make my dreams come true/work hard enough, I’m not sure.

In short, I gave up a pretty good opportunity (I got a job with a great Home Stager) to move back to my small home town to my parents so I could pursue a relationship with an unemployed forty-year-old man. It makes me cringe to even type that sentence. Let’s just say said boyfriend was never the ideal partner and everyone can see that I’m much happier without him.

I’m 24 and graduated from college with an interior design diploma. A month ago I finally kicked my boyfriend to the curb. But now I’ve been out of my field for a year, have saved little money and have student debt that the interest rate has gone up on. Currently, I have a full time job with benefits and pension working as a dental receptionist.

It was always my dream to be an interior designer, but now I feel like I mostly threw it away. I want to move on with my life and work towards everything I have dreamed of having but I don’t know where to start or have any idea what city to live in, how to create a plan, how I would put it into action, anything. I feel stuck. I also feel like everyone else my age is doing amazing things like going travelling and generally having exciting lives whereas I’m barely pulling things together. Any advice at all would help!

You’re only 24! It’s cool.

Also, not knowing what city you should live in is a HUGE advantage! Mobility is highly correlated with financial and career advancement. You can compete in a way that older people with mortgages and mushy feelings about their hometowns cannot.

So:

It wasn’t clear here whether “gave up a pretty good opportunity” means you had the job and quit, or you were offered the job but didn’t take it.

Either way, whoever offered you the job still exists, right? And presumably you didn’t leave town with, “Screw this job and all of you, I’ve got a hot body waiting for me in Saskatchewan!”

Contact this Boss Person and say you (as he/she may already know) recently spent a year in your hometown for “personal/family reasons” (see, that kind of makes it sound like your parent was sick or something, but without actually lying), but now you’re very enthusiastic to get back into home staging and you’re willing to move anywhere. If he/she has a job for you, of course you’d be very interested in pitching yourself for it. If not, you’d be grateful for any advice, and especially for introductions to anyone else who might be hiring, in any city.

It’s perfectly likely that Boss Person may not need you, and may not want to refer you to a competitor, but may know home stagers in other parts of the country he/she wouldn’t mind introducing you to. There are conventions for this, right?

Also try to make a list of people you can send similar emails to. Anyone else you interviewed with, trained with, etc.?

Then, develop another email to send to perfect strangers. Don’t mass-email anybody. Research people, read their work, etc., and send well-crafted, individual emails to people you’d like to work for or who could give you advice. If it takes you a week to write each email, fine. When sending this kind of email to a stranger, make it easy for the person to read and reply quickly — for instance, by asking a yes or no question, or some other question the person can answer easily.

Then, while you’re trying to get a new job in your field, well — can’t you do some home staging on your own?

If doing home staging jobs on your own is impractical for some reason, pick a niche. How about just bedrooms or kitchens? How about you focus on helping people make their own homes look good on a tight budget? Help a few people for cheap or for free. (Don’t do any work for free unless you’re sure the person will be easy to work with, the house in the end can look photo-perfect, and you have permission to use all of the photos, anywhere, forever. It’s sometimes a good idea to always charge a little something, just so people have some skin in the game — for instance, “I’m doing a few jobs free of charge for the month of September, but I do ask you to cover my gas money.”)

Use some of the money from this stable full-time job you have now to hire an incredible professional photographer with experience photographing interiors. Do not scrimp on that. And make a blog. WITH AMAZING BEFORE AND AFTER PICTURES of your home staging work. Again, if you can’t do everything, just do one thing really well. Rugs! Everything is different with rugs! Whatever. Find a niche.

Either this effort will:
– Market you for your dream job
– Turn into its own thriving, awesome business
or
– Get you a book deal, like this lady.

Finally: hardly anybody at 24 has it all together. Almost everyone has debt. You have a lot of advantages: a stable job you can take advantage right now while working on the next thing, a completed degree, knowing what you want to do, the emotional wherewithal to get up and move someplace, and a lack of loser boyfriends!

OK, go do those things!

Also, next time you’re thinking of moving or giving up opportunities for a guy, ask this question: Am I doing this because I feel needy and would be miserable having to detach myself, or am I doing it because it’s an opportunity for the life I want? It it feels like compulsion and not opportunity, don’t do it.

But don’t beat yourself up about this one. Moving on!