The Power of the Do Over

Friday, September 18, 2015

One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is from City Slickers -- a flick that I neglected to put on my "10 Films That Have Stayed With Me" post from earlier this year. 

Sadly, no one has updated the clip I have in mind to YouTube, but it's when Mitch (Billy Crystal) is riding with his two friends, Phil (Daniel Stern) and Ed (Bruno Kirby.) Phil believes his life is a mess. His friction-filled marriage recently ended after he was caught having an affair with a check-out girl at the grocery store he manages that is owned by his father-in-law and as a result he has lost everything, including his job. Mitch points out to him that his life is a "do-over." "You've got a clean slate," he says and reminds him how when they were kids playing baseball and someone hit a foul ball, they'd just yell out "do-over!" and begin a new play.  

Even though I was only 19 years old when I saw the movie, that line resonated with me way back then and has stayed with me ever since. I definitely made a mental note to file that line away for future use. It was probably the first time I realized that some movies do have the power to inspire us and help us change our lives. 

If you've been reading the blog for a while, then you know that once in a while I deviate from the pop culture theme with a more personal post, as this one is, and you probably remember that I was laid off from my full-time job a good 18 months ago. When it happened, I immediately thought of City Slickers although recently I've been extending the "do over" phrase to other parts of my life as well. Usually I exclaim "do over!" when a knitting or crochet project isn't coming out right, but lately I've been applying it to anything that doesn't work out or isn't producing desired results after a period of time. For me, it's kind of a gentler way of saying "f--- it" and moving on.

They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That is exactly how I would describe the modern-day job hunting "game" that I've been doing for the past year and a half. This game consists of submitting your resume, cover letter, and sometimes even references and salary requirements (two things that employers shouldn't even be asking of you unless you're actually at the stage where they want to offer you the position) into a company's job search portal, or as I like to call it, the Black Hole of Application Death. As you may have guessed if you're not already playing it, it's a pretty difficult game to win. 

I've been doing it, and can't say I was a complete failure -- I did manage to get four interviews last winter, so I must have been doing something right with my keywords. But it isn't very fun, and it is often very time consuming...especially when you have to excruciatingly copy and paste every section of your resume into a company's applicant site, because it couldn't read your nicely formatted resume when you uploaded it. 

So I recently decided that I am not going to play this game anymore, and I'm not going to follow these rules, despite what job hunting advice sites may tell you. I'm giving my job hunting a "do over." 

Earlier this week I woke up and was very inspired to try a different technique of job hunting...something I had read about last year but for whatever reason, was too chicken to try at the time. As it turns out, it's also kind of retro. 

From now on I am going to mail a hard copy letter of introduction, my resume, and some of my writing and marketing samples to hiring managers -- not human recourses personnel -- at companies I can see myself working at. And I'm doing it regardless of whether they have a suitable position open or not. 

I know, it's pretty old school. It worked for me back in high school when I wanted to leave the grocery store and break into hospitality (such ambition back then!) Can it work now? Honestly, I don't see why not. 

I'll go into greater detail in a future post about my reasons behind it, and if it's working...but honestly, I feel more inspired about doing this versus pitching a resume into an abyss where no human will ever see it. This also gives me control over where I want to work instead of taking any old job because it's available. If I can't get excited about a company's products and services and/or their employee reviews are overwhelmingly negative on Glassdoor, then I don't want to work there. Being out of work for an extended period of time has definitely given me clarity what I do -- and don't want -- in my next job. 

My life in general has been in a "do over" mode for a while -- this was a stressful summer for my family and me, with my mother needing bypass surgery, and it feels like my life's path has been put on hold in many ways. On the other hand, I DO believe in the universe's timing...had I received a job earlier this year, I would not have accumulated enough time off to visit her and more importantly, help her out at home and run errands for her until she fully recovered. We also went through a period where everything seemed to be going wrong -- mainly things in the house that required repair and the money to fix them. Thankfully, that seems to have finally stopped. I've also been fortunate enough to get a freelance writing gig, writing 500 word articles for real estate websites about small businesses such as restaurants and non-profits. I also have been given extra hours for the other contract job I have. But, it is a very limited amount of money and for a variety of other reasons, I'd love to be working in an office again, even if on a part-time basis. 

In a way, I look at every new day as a "do over" -- a chance to begin again, not repeat a mistake, work towards a goal, etc. It's important to note that a "do over" can't always be an "undo" -- what's done is done, and we can't change the past, but we can learn from our mistakes, forgive others (and ourselves) and move on. And personally, I've always been a fan of clean slates. 


  1. Thanks, Jeff. As you know I knew about your poor kitty but wasn't aware of your aunt's passing -- I'm so sorry to hear that. There was a period this summer where I wasn't visiting my personal Facebook feed, so I missed that news. It's been a difficult year for members of my family as well. My brother-in-law has been searching for work longer than I have. He recently had four interviews with the same company that were spread out...references got checked...and then they didn't get back to him until after Labor Day to let him know he wasn't chosen for the position.

    But we soldier on...I've actually been really happy this month and focusing on the things that make me happy and grateful; tapping into a good feeling no matter what is going on. Wishing you the best and for things to be on the upswing for the remainder of this year and beyond!

  2. I'm so sorry to hear that, Jeff. I remember you said she was getting worse but didn't realize it had progressed to that point. This was not a kind year for a lot of people I know.

    I'm feeling more confident about the job search and also open minded to doing something I may not have thought of before but that would be a good fit for me; doesn't necessarily have to be marketing and writing. What I would like to experience is feeling fulfilled, respected, and working with a nice group of people for a secure employer.


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