Dress For The Job You Want

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I often get approached by friends who are looking to make a life change. It can be in career or lifestyle. Though many know that I don’t have the magic pill that will erase all the fears and insecurities that come along with major decisions, they wonder how it is that I did it.

“I don’t know how you do it” is a common response to finding out that I manage to balance travel, kids, and marriage and that, at least as far as they can see, I am happy about it.

I have written about the challenges I had to address in my marriage and family as my travel blogging career started to grow, and I have addressed the challenge I took on when deciding to go against the grain. But it is still difficult for people who want to make a change in their lives to understand exactly how they go about doing so. This is because we are so conditioned to believe that success is represented in what you do professionally, how much money you make, and what you have. It’s hard for me to really “show off” my success, because I’m a blogger, I don’t make that much money, and I certainly don’t have a lot of stuff to show off. I want to tell you that the proof of my success is in how happy I am, but for many of you, that’s just not enough, especially if you are worrying about how you are going to pay the bills. For the record, I have bills to pay too, I simply reconstructed a life where these weren’t as many and where I didn’t rely on acquiring the things that make them bigger.

But that is the complete opposite of what success is, isn’t it? Our work (and the rewards of the same) is what defines us. Not to mention, it is hard to break away from what we have been promised is our security, our only source of survival and support, and our obligations to society…and our families…and ourselves. Where does one possibly begin?

There is a way in which I can explain it that might be easier for those stuck in the system to understand and that is to listen to the age-old advice of career success: Dress for the job you want.

I was given this advice often not only by my school mentors, but also by former bosses and colleagues. Dress for the job you want. And so I would dress for the job I thought I wanted, because I was raised to believe that those were the jobs that matter, that defined my worth, and that would make me happy. So, I would wear suits and skirts to the office, interviews, and meetings and I still remember how uncomfortable it always felt.

I wondered about success and career growth and worried that the job I wanted meant I would forever be forced into dressing in a way I didn’t want at all.

Dress for the job you want they tell you, and then convince you that the job you want is the one with the big title and large paycheck. They tell you that perks include purchasing power and power lunches, 4 week vacations instead of the lowly 1 or two (though we never use them anyway). That the long hours are worth it and pay off in the end. That is, of course, if you don’t die first. They lure you with the promise of tomorrow, though we all know it’s not really a promise anyone can guarantee.

girlgonetravelIt’s incredible what you can accomplish when you don’t put all your hope on tomorrow and take full advantage of today.

It took me a really, really long time to realize that I was dressing for the wrong job. I spent a lot of time and a lot of money doing so and though I got closer to the things they told me would come, I got further from my true self.

We all have the ability to be impactful and leave a mark, but not all of us can, need, or want to do it from a cubicle or corner office. Some of us are actually much better, as well as much happier, in different ways.

girlgonetravelNo one ever believes that their success may look quite different then how so many others have presented it to them.

Define your ambition then dress for the job you want. Arm yourself with the courage to pursue it. Accessorize your life with moments of happiness and inspiring people. Don’t put all your faith on the promise that tomorrow brings, because tomorrow is not a promise anyone can keep. Rely on the advice that you have already been given, because most of it is true: the rewards come from sacrifice, hard work, and commitment, but don’t limit yourself into believing that there is only one way to achieve it. In order to be happy, you have to be brave.

girlgonetravelIt took me a long time to pursue my calling, mostly because I was afraid and mostly because I was told it wasn’t valuable.

Sometimes the path to happiness and the job it takes to get there goes against everything you have held to be true for so long. If you have this nagging desire to want to change your life, chances are it might be time to change your outfit.



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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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13 Responses to Dress For The Job You Want

  1. charleneaross says:

    I LOVE this! Great post Carol. And yes, we must figure out new (and better) ways to define success. While big paychecks and power are nice, I too believe that success is better defined by happiness and peace of mind. You are obviously dressing for the right job. (And you look fabulous!)
    My recent post Just Lose It: The Results

  2. holly says:

    I came to this expecting info on how to dress at work and got fabulous wisdom instead. Thank you.
    My recent post My Thoughts on Multi-Generational Travel

  3. I love this, Carol! You're so right – there are many ways to define success and living a "big" life. Dressing for success doesn't always mean dressing UP.
    My recent post How to live the “childfree life” (when you have kids.)

  4. looove this! guess that's why I wear running shorts all day, every day!! 🙂 I want a job that allows me to express my love of active living. focusing on today, here, now.
    My recent post Zero Calorie Socialization

  5. dcrmom says:

    I love this post and YOU are an inspiration!

  6. kirstenalana says:

    Couldn't. agree. more!!
    My recent post 2013 Capture the Colour Contest

  7. I am just not specific where by that you are taking your details, nevertheless great topic. I actually has to expend a while mastering additional as well as figuring out extra. Many thanks for terrific data I became seeking this information in my mission.

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