Repurposing Your Skills to Find New Opportunities
People with chronic health conditions face tough decisions before they are ready, like deciding about their career/job. Do you continue working or leave due to long-term disability? I was one of those people. I was two years into my dream job when I received my end-stage heart failure diagnosis. Then, doctors told me that if I wanted to continue to work, I could only work from home. Unfortunately, working from home was not an option at the time. So, I resigned on long-term disability.
Fast forward into the pandemic, A LOT of people had to work from home – and that meant so could I!!! Now, you may be wondering, what does all of this have to do with repurposing your skills? Well, the way I landed my dream job was by repurposing my skills to find a job that fit me!
What does repurposing skills look like?
Repurposing your skills, to me, is focusing on what you are good at, even if it is not something you were trained to do. In my case, I studied biology in school (I know right – who does that?!!). I even went to medical school for a while, then graduate school, and wrote a whole dissertation on the topic. However, when I got into the real world, I realized, I did not like the “traditional” career paths that I knew about for biologists. This meant finding something different. So, when I started looking for a new career path, I focused on writing. Why? Well, I was always a very strong writer. I just did not study writing in school. However, there were careers that let me use my biology training and my writing skills, like science writing and health communications (which is what I do now). Therefore, I repurposed my skills.
Finding new opportunities after heart failure diagnosis
Now, you may be wondering, how do you find new opportunities to repurpose your skills? Honestly, the opportunities are all around you. The trick is being open to them, and sometimes, being a little creative. For example, you may have never gone to culinary school, but you are a great cook! In fact, you might use cooking to make yourself happy and relieve stress. You might also like social media. Therefore, you have two of the skillsets necessary to start your journey to being the next Instagram cooking sensation! The reality is we tend to “box” ourselves into certain careers. Thinking “out of the box” opens a lot of doors.
In my field, science writing and health communications were always around. Think about it. Most of us used at least one science textbook or an information sheet in the doctor’s office. Unfortunately, these paths were not discussed when I was in school.
The unexpected joys of repurposing
When I initially repurposed my skills, it was to stay employed. However, I eventually ended up on a career path that I LOVE. Now, at the beginning of this article, I mentioned leaving my dream job because of my condition. What I did not tell you was that during my time out of work, I focused on OTHER skills that I had just in case I could not return to work. As a result, I used my writing skills to help develop resumes for other people looking for new jobs. I repurposed the skills I developed as an educator by teaching others how to repurpose their skills! Furthermore, I plan to use these new skills to serve as a consultant. Many of the contributors do not know it, but they are communications specialists! Do you see the trend? Repurposing your skills helps you focus on all the things you can do rather than what you can no longer do – and THAT brings more joy into your life!
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