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Writing About Work

By Tom Gilbert - Copyright © September, 2015

Writing about your work, the personal history of your career or careers, can be fertile material for a memoir. Many of us spend a huge amount of our lifetime at work, doing various jobs and building a career.

A lot of our effort goes into finding meaningful work. Doing something satisfying, that stimulates us and challenges us, and ideally helps make our world a better place.

Yes, I know that work is a four letter word. And there are times when we don't feel like doing it. Yet it is necessary. Most of us live in societies where we find it necessary to earn income to survive. We all have bills to pay.

We also crave meaning and purpose in our lives. Our work personal history probably includes jobs we did just to make a buck, but hopefully you have had jobs you did that help make a life. I certainly hope you know the difference."

So Many Jobs

As I close in on my 60th birthday and reflect back on various jobs I've held I find there are many life lessons. Like others, I've had to learn the meaning of responsibility, punctuality and doing my best. I've also suffered through some tough work challenges and periods of unemployment and economic uncertainty.

When I was a youngster my first job was a paper route. I was the typical teenager riding his bike and throwing the newspaper onto the porches. That part wasn't so bad. Collecting the subscription fee was a different story. Some people were happy to pay; others avoided it. A thirteen year olf kid doesn't have much power to persuade payment. The business model changed, of course, and newspapers soon figured out there was a better way for processing payment than having the paper carrier get the money.

My brother and I mowed lawns some summers. Hot, sweaty work, but at least we were outside and not stuck in a fast food restaurant or mall outlet. I had my share of those types of jobs, too.

One summer, just out of high school, I worked in a steel mill in Rome, New York. It was a startup and rival of the established Rome Strip Steel Company. And they were not as big on safety. A tough job with some scary moments.

On the Air

Some of my best jobs were working in the radio industry. It was great fun to play music and talk about it. I had about a 30-year career in broadcasting and worked at stations around the country. I was a program director quite a few times and dealt with some of the management headaches, but I also had the creative freedom to format the personality of a radio station. Stationality is what we called it.

Being an adult with responsibilities of wife and family meant a change in how I perceived work. More financial dealings. The difficulty of finding some sort of balance between home life and work was constant.

Purpose and Talents

The real goal and blessing of a satisfying work life is discovering what you are good at, what fulfills your desires for purpose, and getting the opportunity to do it. Some people are successful as entrepreneurs, but the freedom of being your own boss means you need to be able to deal with risk and stress.

My current career as a writer, school teacher and personal historian allows me to wear many hats. I am working harder than ever. I am also finding more meaning and purpose. It is wonderful to help people discover the importance of their stories and to preserve them. Teaching and writing go hand in hand for me.

Read more articles about lifestory writing.


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