Landing Your Dream Job

The One Very Important Thing No One Ever Tells You.

I want to start this off by loudly proclaiming an extremely obvious but recently discovered truth: the closer you get to your passion’s work, the harder the life/work balance becomes. Almost 1 year ago to the day, I landed my dream job and I have been jogging (often sprinting) ever since – it’s exhilarating, frustrating, time consuming, deeply satisfying, extremely challenging, and has left very little room for any other non-age and disability friendly topics or projects in my life.

For example:

  • Friends and colleagues send me articles weekly – emails, Facebook, Instagram, etc. (at this point, all of my internet, movie & mail advertisements reflect that of a 70 year old, of which I can’t disagree or even say I’m upset about);
  • Everywhere I go, I’m constantly thinking about the accessibility of the space, of getting there, or of ways to improve;
  • My recreational reading is mostly related to this field: my last book was Jan Gehl’s “Life Between Buildings” (highly recommend, I’m such a fan grrl);
  • Even at events I’m trying to calculate how many participants are older adults or people with disabilities; essentially trying to discern how “friendly” the event is;
  • My dudewife now frequently comments when a space is lacking in “wayfinding” or when there is a diversity of age in the crowd (swoon).

People – I’m obsessed. This is not a complaint at all – rather, a little point that not one of my fantastic mentors, colleagues, professors, or even biographies I’ve read, ever bothered to mention. Here’s my realization: that your dream job will likely be the most consuming you’ll ever know. That life/work balance will take on a whole new meaning, when your life and work are one in the same.

Angry Ida giving me side-eye.

So, eleven months into my dream job, with two years left on my contract, I’m starting to re-think what life/work balance looks like. I am still deeply passionate about this work and am more enmeshed in this work than ever before. Just this morning I was drafting up a syllabus for a gerontology class I’m giving a guest lecture about accessible urban planning – my life bleeds into my work and vice versa. However, I also think having too much of a focus and not being exposed to other disciplines, perspectives, or fields can also be really limiting. In general, the beauty of age & disability friendly planning is that it really is a multi-disciplinary effort, most successful when it engages a range of professionals, community members, and departments, so in that way I’m constantly challenged to think and present information differently. Yet, I also miss sewing, my garden has been completely neglected, my chickens are ready to riot, and keeping up with my blog has become a struggle.

And yet, I’m the work we’re doing in San Francisco is absolutely phenomenal! This is the most difficult and rewarding project I’ve ever had. And so I continue searching for that balance, which I now call life/work/self balance, because if your life is your work, than it really becomes a balance of including yourself in there. Here’s to all the change agents and all those who are deeply passionate about their work – remember to incorporate radical acts of self-care, to nurture yourself, and stop every once in awhile to look back and acknowledge this fantastic journey you’re on.

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Age Friendly City

Ensuring cities are built for everyone