Friday, February 18, 2011

Epitaph: The Résumé of Your Life

I love quotes. My Twitter feed and Facebook status are peppered liberally with wise and inspiring words from notable scholars, experts and philanthropists. I also post items that make me think and, not nearly often enough, things that make me laugh.

Aren't epitaphs something like a favorite quote? Pithy sayings that attempt to sum up one's life? A few months ago, I was reading something which led me to post, "I would like my tombstone to read: 'She persevered.'"

How depressing.

Sincere. But uninspiring. Reminds me of the old Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown's pitching never seemed to earn his ballteam a victory. At the end of yet another loss, he laments, "How can we lose when we're so sincere?"

Perseverance is an admirable virtue, don't get me wrong. Necessary for all achievement. But it also carries with it the secondary meaning of slogging it out through miserable circumstances without any real hope of accomplishment or victory.

As I have been conducting a job search for the past six months, I have persevered. With no visible results (ie. I don't have a job). Granted, I have two interviews scheduled in the next two weeks. However, I have been mulling how backwards the job search process is. How can I know if I would fit a job? Why should the employer hold all the cards? Shouldn't I rather determine if the job would fit me? That would be in the best interests of both parties and your clientele.

We've all seen it, the employee who is a bad fit: she absolutely hates her job and resents you, the customer, for requiring her to do it. The anxiety-riddled man who eventually becomes incapable of the simplest tasks because he’s been promoted to his highest level of incompetence. The person who takes a sick day every other week or the one who makes a fool of themselves at office parties.

But then there are the surprise endings. The engineer who discovers he's a poet. The nurse whose husband gives her painting lessons for Christmas and within two years, she has her own exhibition. The quiet gentleman who loses one job only to discover being his own boss as a finishing carpenter not only earns him a living, it earns back his self-respect.

So, yes. We must persevere. But let's be clear about why we are persevering. And let's be certain that we include more in our lives than just grunt effort. In my six months of persevering, I have also been clarifying what I value. What adds meaning and purpose to life. Because if a prospective employer doesn't value those same virtues, I'm sure the job will be a bad fit. No matter how much it pays.

I'd rather my tombstone said: "She was inspiring, kind and funny."

Perhaps that's what my resume should show too.

What quote would sum up your life?


  1. Certainly, the epitaph you ended with is much less depressing! Hope your job search goes well.

  2. From your postings, you are inspiring, kind and funny. It might look great in your resume.

    My husband was recently unemployed, just before Christmas. Long story short, his comment to me was, "I have a job, I just need someone to make out the paycheck".

    He was in church after the 'termination letter' and a young man teaching that day said to everyone, "The Lord told me that someone here has lost their job and not to worry. He's taken care of everything."

    My husband knew it was for him and went up to the young man after service. He asked him when he'd gotten that from the Lord. The answer was the same day my husband was let go. The employer that let him go had secunded him to another company. That company he'd been secunded to 'respected him, held him in high regard, and needed him for their projects. They told him to seek out two different head hunters they used. He was picked up within two weeks, paid more, bonus this time, great benefits.

    He's 69 and going full steam!

  3. Thanks for your words! Donna, that is so encouraging! I was musing to my Bible study group today that the blessing of the extended job search has drawn me back to revisit what I truly value, what makes my heart sing, what God has prepared in advance for me to do. I'm so grateful.