A friend of mine is celebrating her first day of retirement today.

After forty-five years as a music educator.

In the same job.

That she landed straight out of college.

She’s never had to navigate the in-between.

The world of work doesn’t work that way any more.

It hasn’t for a long, long time.

In today’s world of work, navigating the in-between is as critical a skill as networking and writing an effective resume.

The constant need to navigate career in-betweens isn’t just for millennials, either.

According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, even boomers have held an average of nearly twelve jobs between the ages of 18 and 48, and one-fourth of folks born between 1957 and 1964 have held fifteen jobs or more. Even during the most stable periods of their careers, boomers held an average of 2.4 jobs.

That’s a lot of in-betweens to navigate.

Which could mean lots of possibilities for frantically focusing on a job search 24/7 in a context of fear and desperation.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

And will probably work a lot better if it isn’t.

Navigating an in-between by knowing and maximizing your strengths, values and priorities will lead to better decisions about future career options and make those in-between times a lot more pleasant.

Instead of a checklist of 87 Life Hacks to Survive Being Between Jobs, here are three stories to tuck away for when you’re navigating an in-between.

Birds, Butterflies and Banjos

I closed out the spring teaching season at the arboretum last week – bonus: more time for coaching now that it’s summer – by co-leading a lovely group of Brownies on an evening hike and campfire with new grad who is rocking the first in-between time of his career.

Since finishing his chemical engineering degree last year, he has dutifully followed all of the career office’s rules for an effective job search with no full-time gig to show for it. So far.

Sure, he’s frustrated, but it’s not keeping him from pursuing interests that reflect his strengths and values or from learning new skills.

In addition to honing his teaching skills at the arboretum, he fuels his love of learning – and his soul – by joining weekly bird and butterfly walks and he’s teaching himself to play the banjo so he could join a bluegrass group – where he’s the youngest member by more than fifty years.

Volunteer to Career

When I met her at a workshop in March, a new fellow board member of the local HR group introduced herself as “in transition” with a slight air of timidity.

That didn’t stop her from signing on as a board member – now the group’s secretary – though, where her sharp thinking and brilliance in crafting effective procedures that are easy to implement aren’t just helping the organization.

It’s also led her to a temporary job that she loves so much that she’s invited her new boss to think of as a “really long interview.”

If the boss is smart, my new friend won’t have to navigate another in-between for a good long time.

Nature and Show Tunes

I did a Facebook live this week about how, if I had paid attention to something I naturally did when I felt stuck in a job that wasn’t a great fit, I would have been able to use my after-work walks in nature while listening to show tunes on my Walkman – the cassette type, yep, it was that long ago – to boost my well-being and make my life less miserable.

I missed two important elements of that blast from my past, though.

First, I wasn’t stuck in a soul-sucking job; I was navigating an in-between.

And, second, spending time moving in nature and singing became important hot tracks that helped me not only realize that it was an in-between but also helped me make the next step in my career much more rewarding.

In today’s world of work, in-between times are inevitable.

Knowing and maximizing your strengths, values and priorities are key to making better decisions that lead to more success.

image: Pixbay; used with permission

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