The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

December 4, 2013

Dream big, work hard

I hate it when someone who isn’t me dispenses good career advice. Sadly, it happens from time to time, and it has happened in a big way with the publication of a new book by Josh Shipp.

The book is called “Jump Ship.“ At first blush, it’s just the kind of workplace book I love to mock. A title that’s a play on the author’s name, written by a peppy guy in his 30s who has starred in reality television shows. Can’t be any good, right?

Wrong.

“Jump Ship“ is a smart and honest freight train of a book, one that’s as witty and approachable as it is pragmatic. Subtitled “Ditch Your Dead-End Job and Turn Your Passion into a Profession,“ the book lays out a sensible path for people who feel they could be doing something better with their lives.

Many can envision a dream job, but few are willing to put in the hard work involved in turning an abstract concept into a sensible reality.

“Yes, you can do it, but it’s going to be hard as hell,“ Shipp said in an interview. “If it wasn’t hard, everyone would love their job. Anything that’s meaningful is going to be challenging, but ’impossible’ and ’difficult’ are not synonyms.“

In the book, he tells the reader it’s OK to quit, but he adds this essential caveat: “Smart people quit the right things at the right time.“

That resonated with me. I was a chemical engineer before I became a journalist. Once I figured out journalism was the path I wanted to follow, my parents fully supported that decision, but they asked one thing of me: “Don’t quit your job until you have everything figured out. Be smart about it.“

I talked to people in the industry. I started working at a newspaper on the side to get a feel for the business. I figured out what it would take to eventually find work that would pay enough to keep me afloat.

It turned out the best path for me was to return to school for a master’s degree in journalism, which allowed me to launch my new career on better footing. The path wasn’t easy, but it worked.

Everyone’s path is going to be different, and what Shipp does so well is set up steps to help you start mapping your unique path.

He asks you to first let your mind run wild and establish your dream job. That can be a hard thing to do, as we all have practical concerns that swoop in and squash our more fanciful thoughts.

Shipp writes: “You’re embarrassed. Or you’re too proud, too practical, too scared, or too scarred to actually do the vulnerable, hopeful, yet unappreciated work of dreaming. You’ll say that dreaming feels like a waste of time; what you mean is that you’ve had dreams crushed in the past and have trained yourself not to get your hopes up.“

OK, so that sounds like the typical “hitch your wagon to a star“ blah-blah found in most career books. But Shipp pivots quickly to a second step: Refine your dream job.

You’ve figured out what you think you want, now figure out:

A.) Is it definitely as good as it sounds?

B.) How do you “define your dream through the lens of reality“?

“Whatever you think your dream job is, you need to go test-drive it,“ Shipp said. “When most of us get our information about what we want to do for a living, we get some kind of Hollywood version of it. It shouldn’t scare you to find the ugly parts of the dream job.“

So find people who do what you think you want to do and talk to them, maybe even take time off work and shadow people in this new field.

“To me, there’s no 100 percent dream job,“ Shipp said. “But there’s something around 80 percent, and you have to be sure you’re cool with that 20 percent that’s lame or not in your sweet spot. The sooner people can do that, the better. You’re less likely to waste tears, years and dollars along the way.“

Once you’ve nailed down what you want to do, the rest is, in essence, hard work. Shipp offers some solid steps, but the distilled version is: Get off your butt, figure out what you have to do, get the skills, get the connections and, when everything is in place, jump.

“People are really putting their butts on the line when they do this,“ Shipp said. “Yes, they need that pep talk, but they also need to understand it’s not easy. It’s going to take more than just wishful thinking, more than all that Walt Disney-type stuff, like if you wish upon a star it’s going to come true. That’d be great, but if that was the case, we’d all be tall and rich and thin and all of that.“

Shipp weaves his own powerful life experiences - he was an orphan who bounced around to many foster homes, facing abuse and neglect - into the book, and it adds an authenticity you don’t often find in workplace tomes. He makes you believe you can achieve something better, but he never insults you by making it sound easy.

Life is hard and, for most, good things don’t just happen. We make them happen.

That’s a lesson I’m very happy Shipp has shared with the world.

Rex Huppke writes for the Chicago Tribune. Send him questions by email at rhuppketribune.com or on Twitter RexWorksHere.

 

1
Text Only
Business
  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

  • Career Coach: Bringing a purpose-driven spirit to work

    Increasingly, religious beliefs and practices of employees are becoming more evident in the workplace. Religious diversity and concepts of spirituality are more prevalent in organizational settings.

    July 18, 2014

  • Ask the Mompreneur: It’s best to farm out your payroll

    When my husband and I hired our first employee at our Web development company, we had it easy when it came to doing payroll.

    July 17, 2014

  • Protecting against unnecessary losses

    QUESTION: I run a small bar and grill which is open 7 days a week and have to rely on others for some of the shifts. How can I ensure employees have not become my partners?

    July 17, 2014

  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.
    Workplace distractions are everywhere, especially in an age of social media and open-plan offices. In the face of so much temptation, accomplishing what you’re paid to do can be tough.

    July 16, 2014

  • It could be time for a career coach

    Need a little help figuring out your next career move?
    If you’re putting in the hours and still not seeing the rewards, feeling undervalued or simply striving to be more successful, it may be time to hire a career coach.

    July 16, 2014

  • Your Office Coach: Turn to boss for help with disgruntled underling

    QUESTION: When I joined this company a few weeks ago, I discovered that the person who previously held my position is now working for me. “Sarah” obviously resents my presence and frequently says I don’t have the authority to manage her, even though I clearly do. Her negativity has made my job much more difficult.

    July 15, 2014

  • You are not trusted

    If it seems like employers don’t trust employees - well, they don’t.

    July 15, 2014

  • The Color of Money: Beware of loan-modification scammers

    There are some good things going on in the economy these days. Just like temperatures across the country, the stock market has been hot lately. The economy added 288,000 jobs in June. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent. Yet there are still plenty of Americans who need financial help, especially with their mortgages.

    July 14, 2014

Business Video
Stocks