Following Your Bliss

Sarah E Murphy

A Career Advice Column
by Sarah E. Murphy
writer, photoartist, entrepreneur and seasoned job seeker


The Ideal Spot: Finding that Perfect Place

Location! Location! Location!

The main objective of house hunting can also be applied to the job search. You’re looking for a place that, in essence, will be your home away from home, so why not make it a place that inspires? Sometimes the surroundings of the job are just as important, if not more important, than the job itself.

"Sometimes the surroundings of the job are just as important, if not more important, than the job itself."

Creating Your Own Reality

Jay Oliveira was working on Wall Street as a stockbroker. Although he felt as though he was on a career path, he also felt it might not necessarily be the right path for him. He was frustrated with his job and feeling very unfulfilled, so after much soul searching, he decided to make a major life change. Forsaking skyscrapers for palm trees, he quit his job and moved to the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

He now lives in the small town of Kailua, about 15 miles from Honolulu on the windward (southeast) side of the island, working as a sales rep for a wine distributor. He wakes up every morning excited about his job and his surroundings, which couldn’t be any more different from where he was before. "I sat behind a desk and dialed the phone 400-500 times a day. I was not finding any fulfillment in my job. Eventually there was the great possibility of making a lot of money, but I was just miserable. I’d catch a subway at 6 am every morning and commute 45 minutes to work. I would work until 8 or 9 pm and then catch the subway home. Exhausted, I was spending every minute of every day sitting behind a desk doing something I hated."

Unlike his job before, now each day is different. "I travel around the island in my car visiting restaurants and hotels. I can look my clients in the eye versus selling them a stock they probably shouldn’t own over the phone. I get to communicate with different people all day, but I get the downtime in the car by myself which I enjoy, since the view is definitely a lot nicer than New York City."

The fact that he had a friend from college living on the island made the transition a little easier and a little less daunting. He already had a place to live; he just needed to find a job. Since he’s worked in and out of the restaurant business for twelve years, he decided to get a bartending job until he figured out if he wanted to stay. Because he wasn’t committing to any job, it lessened the pressure of moving thousands of miles away. "Worse case scenario I got to spend a winter in Hawaii. Best case scenario I end up loving the place and finding a new career, which is what happened."

"I am 100 % happier. I wake up every morning happy with my job and location."

If It’s Meant To Be…

He got a job within the first four days, and after bartending for a few months, he began ordering the liquor, wine and beer for the restaurant. Eventually, one of the sales reps left and he asked the distributor if they were hiring. He sent in his resume, got a return call within three hours, and had an interview the next day. Since he wanted to get back into sales, it seemed like a good match. It was his first and only interview in Hawaii.

“I am 100 % happier. I wake up every morning happy with my job and location. The climate and beautiful scenery definitely help. How many times has a cold, dreary day brought you down? There certainly aren’t any of those days in Hawaii.”

If you’re considering making a major location change, Jay suggests going somewhere you have a contact or friend to help you get familiar with the area. “You also want to pick a place where you can pursue your hobbies or interests. I love the beach, so I knew I wanted to remain on a coast. But don’t just jump into a job, do some research first.”

Words of Wisdom

I asked Jay what advice he has for people feeling unfulfilled in their daily lives. “Life’s too short to spend it being unhappy. You are the most important person in your life. Don’t worry about what other people think. I know I’m a lot more fun to be around because I’m finally happy.”

For more information on working in Hawaii, go to:

"Although she would have to make some sacrifices in order to make the dream a reality, she knew it would all be worth it. It was time to live by the ocean."

Making Dreams Reality

This past February, Francesca Campo decided it was time to make one of her lifelong dreams a reality. She had spent many years working in retail, before working as a Production Director of an Event Planning company. After spending 13 years in New York and 7 in Boston, she was tired of living in a city. She has always been a creative person, but working 70 hours a week did not allow her any time to pursue her own interests, and she felt as though she was missing out on life. So she packed up her apartment on Beacon Hill setting her sites on the coast. Although she would have to make some sacrifices in order to make the dream a reality, she knew it would all be worth it. It was time to live by the ocean.

She moved to Newport, Rhode Island to a much smaller apartment and lower paying job. And she has never been happier.

She wanted to stay in the non-profit world, for she loves to raise money for a good cause and she enjoys connecting with people. She is currently coordinating the “Taste of Newport” for the Child and Family Services Agency and the “Art Unfurled” fundraiser at the Newport Art Museum.

Living Simply

She welcomes the changes she has had to make in order to embark on this new chapter. “It’s not as difficult as you think to change your life and live more simply. You find ways of cutting back. You can cut your cost of living in half if you get rid of the expensive apartment and stop going to overpriced restaurants.”

Francesca has found the pace in Newport to be much slower than in Boston. “The artistic community here is very localized and everyone watches out for each other. It is not as aggressive as Boston and is not interested in flashy images or externals. Therefore, there is less pressure and much more enjoyment in one’s daily routine.”

It’s The Little Things

By taking time to slow down and concentrate more on herself, she has gotten a chance to enjoy what her boyfriend, Marty refers to as the “pickles and sauces of life.” “My life is so much more full and interesting now. I wake up every day happy and excited because I have time for things like blueberry picking, strawberry picking, and outdoor concerts. I can go to the beach before work if I feel like it and again at lunch if I want to.”

" never know what one choice over another will do for your future."

Focus On Within

Francesca has also found time to refocus on her creativity, something that runs in the family, as her grandfather was a tailor and her mother is an artist.

She specializes in jean jackets covered with beautiful hand-sewn fabric and antique buttons. Recently, a man approached her in a store and asked if he could buy the jacket off her back. She declined, but offered to make one for him. She sells them in various stores in the Rhode Island area and also takes custom orders. “I absolutely love doing it. People ask me how much work goes into them, but I don’t even think of it that way, for I get such joy out of creating them.”

Francesca has found that in Newport there is always someone kind enough to help by sharing his/her experience with someone in the same situation. She wouldn’t change a thing about her new life, although she admits it can be intimidating to start over. “It has been scary, but invigorating.”

For more information on working in Newport, Rhode Island, go to:

Working Abroad

I recently received an email from a young woman who wanted to work abroad, but had no idea where to go from there. My advice to her was to get certified in Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL).

I obtained my certification at a local high school by taking an eight- week evening course, which cost about $200.00. Once you are certified, you can work anywhere in the world and housing is often provided. ESL teachers are always in demand, and it affords one the opportunity to live and work in different countries for a limited period of time. That way you have the freedom to go somewhere else if the destination does not meet your expectations. Or there is always the possibility once you get there, you’ll find the place feels more like home than the one you’ve left behind and you’ll never want to leave.

The Road Less Traveled

I never took advantage of such an opportunity, for I found myself on a career path soon after getting certified. But I often regret not taking such a chance, for you never know what one choice over another will do for your future.

For more information on teaching ESL, go to:

- Sarah E. Murphy