• Cara Heilmann

Forget Resolutions. Instead Be Resolved.


Talk about a heavyweight word. “Resolve” comes from the Latin resolvere, which originally meant “to melt” or “to undo” or “uncouple.” Fascinatingly, it has almost flipped from its original meaning. We resolve conflict (bring people back together), we resolve an equation (connect one side to the other), and every January we resolve to get ourselves together in one way or another. This year, maybe you resolved to get rid of your COVID-pounds, or to lay off the hooch, or to learn a new skill or get more sleep or more exercise. Maybe you resolved to save money.


Maybe you’re actually much more preoccupied with the notion of earning more money.


There’s no question that 2020 suckerpunched the economy, tanked everyone’s plans and generally acted as a growth-antagonist. And yet, some people found a lot of opportunity in all the chaos and uncertainty.


The other day, a client messaged me to show off the fancy-pants Italian espresso machine she’d bought herself as a holiday gift. It was one of those brass and copper masterpieces with a big eagle on top of the boiler. She told me her ex had gotten “custody” of her prized espresso machine in the divorce and she’d been trying to save enough to replace it for five years! But the fun-but-low-wage position she’d been in made it impossible to get out of escalating credit card debt.


A gifted content creator and strategist, when she started working with us, she was targeting what she called “grown-up jobs” that would provide stability. To be honest, her search wasn’t going very well. Résumés disappeared into ATS holes. Recruiters didn’t “get” her because she was not siloed to a specific role or industry. She was frustrated and freaking out, but when I suggested she was probably the kind of person who’d do better working for herself, she pushed back. Being a sole proprietor scared her. To her, that sounded like the exact opposite of “stability.” So she kept dutifully applying for content strategy jobs at big corporations. And getting ignored.


Then COVID killed the low-paying job she’d been doing, and stuff hit the fan. Unemployed, no healthcare, in debt, a single mom of college-bound teens with a mortgage in an affluent ZIP code–something had to give. My client finally gave in, watched my tutorial on setting up a business, and launched herself as a content provider, doing everything from copy-editing to ghostwriting entire books. Guess what? With zero marketing budget and never having run any kind of business before, my client cleared 25K in credit card debt in three months, built up a nest egg to deal with lean months, hired a handyman, got her medical insurance under control and finally got the ridiculously luxe cappuccino machine she’d been pining for for half a decade. All during the pandemic. All on her own. All by word of mouth, not one penny spent on advertising. She found her zone, and the work started finding her.


This client had to resolve her fears of running her own business–as in melt them down, as in get un-shackled from them. Once she confronted her anxieties about being “in charge” and got out of her own way, she discovered a path–a quirky, eccentric path that genuinely fits who she is. It takes resolve (a lot of it) to do this, but anyone can.


As we welcome 2021 (and hey, 2020, don’t let the door smack you in the butt on the way out!) we’d like to suggest you make a resolution to find the work that works for you. If you don’t love what you’re doing, if you feel trapped, if you are in “golden handcuffs” in a well-paying job that sucks the life out of you or, if, like my coffee-snob client, you have struggled with being underemployed or booted out of the workforce by the pandemic? See it as an opportunity to re-imagine your career trajectory. It doesn’t matter how established you are in your field, how old you are, or where you live. You can and should find work that makes you feel valued. You just have to be resolve to be flexible, resolve to think differently, and resolve to ask for help when you need it.


We spend a lot of our lives working. Why not resolve to find a job that truly leverages your gifts, one that you feel good about doing, one that makes you happy?


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