I’ve been back in Chicago for several weeks after five months abroad, and really starting to dip my toes into the “What’s next?” waters. And by this, I mean what’s next for my career. It’s simultaneously invigorating and overwhelming. But I’m trying to focus on the positive: the abundant options. If I wanted to make a geographical shift, now is the time. If I wanted to transition my expertise into something completely (or slightly) new, now is the time.
What I don’t want to do is return to the same old, same old, even with my fresh lens on the world. As I sit here typing this in my Chicago condo, the one I’ve owned for 10 years now, even the setting itself feels a little stale.
In exploring my options, I’m reaching out to pretty much everyone I know and chasing all leads that pique my curiosity. I figure, it never hurts to reach out and put yourself out there, as you never know how the dots will connect in the long-run. It’s been fun, if not exhausting. Even though I have a list of criteria for a “dream job,” I am remain open. Not doing so would be like going into a dress shop with a very specific dress in mind, and neglecting some of the other designer gowns that could prove a better fit.
In this quest to put myself out there, I attended a travel industry networking event last night at the Dana Hotel. It was hosted by Millennials in Travel. (I think I just barely make the cut as a Millennial. But I attended anyway, knowing I might be the eldest in the crowd.) I attended it with the same attitude I approach any email, phone call or in-person lunch: “What do I have to lose?”
Out of it, I gained a really telling story about the rush-rush-rush nature of the USA. Or maybe it’s just the rush-rush-rush nature of the workaholic elite.
One of the attendees I met works for a super-luxury hotel in Chicago. I won’t name names, so as not to get anyone in trouble. When she mentioned that this super-luxury hotel has a policy of fulfilling the requests of every guest, I had to ask: “What the most extreme thing requested that you’ve personally handled?”
Her eyes got wide, and she said it was buying a Tiffany necklace for the daughter of a guest. It was for her birthday. He gave this hotel manager a budget, she sent him a few options, he picked the most expensive one — then she skipped down to Tiffany’s to pick it up.
Definitely a cool little work story. But it also made me sad. For the daughter. For the man who was too busy to go pick out a necklace for his little girl.
The journey and that moment of purchase is just as much part of the gift, no? Or am I being too sentimental about it? I suppose it’s not so different from shopping online? Am I the only person in the room who finds this slightly upsetting?
While the rest of the people in our little networking circle were “oohing” and “aahing” over this little work vignette, I started reflecting on how I never want to be in a life situation where I’m too busy to personally go down to a store — and Tiffany’s wasn’t far from this hotel, mind you — to personally pick out a necklace for my daughter.
I don’t know how this criteria fits into my “dream job” description, if at all. But it’s something to consider when and if I ever become “too busy” down the road to do the simple, truly meaningful things in life.