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Guest Blog: The American Dream -- Get Over It!

04/29/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Guest Blogger: Candice Reed (formerly of the L.A. Times)

The American dream of earning a degree on Friday and walking into a high-paying job on Monday is so over. And the ridiculous idea of purchasing a McMansion with a waterfall in the pool and a six-car garage has come to an end, and rightly so. Over the past decade people acted as if they had endless amounts of credit to upgrade their kitchens with Italian marble sinks and built-in pizza ovens and buy vehicles the size of apartments in Paris. If it weren't so crazy and real, I would laugh. But I won't just yet.

If you haven't noticed, the job market has changed. So why haven't you? Your new challenge needs to be is this: if you can stop longing for the consumer driven climate of a few years ago and switch gears to the new trends out there while finding your niche, you'll be better suited for success.

Yeah, I get it. Every position out there has 1000 people applying for the same opportunity. There are too many people out there that are unemployed at the moment, but seriously, that's the attitude that you need to change. There are open positions and business opportunities out there, right now. Those jobs will be filled by people who persist and approach these prospects with willingness to change and a progressive attitude. You have to maintain a sense of optimism and humor -- especially humor -- about your future.

Seriously, you're more adaptable than you think.

Take your great-grandparents. Did they live through the Depression and make it? Were they in World War I or II and lived to tell about it? Those who have gone before us lived through upheavals so great we may never appreciate the strength and spirit they needed to survive. History shows that we humans are remarkably flexible and can adapt to a wide variety of situations and environments. Realizing this will encourage you to embrace change rather than avoid it

I speak from experience. I worked as a journalist in Southern California for more than a decade earning decent money while my husband who worked 7-days a week and supported us for 30 years took a break and went to part-time work. We didn't need much. We had a 40-year-old house with a mortgage, older cars with no payments and one credit card with a $2000.00 limit and, to make it even easier, the kids had flown the nest. Everything was good. Until I lost my job.

Then the mortgage went up -- long story -- and I found myself doing everything and anything to hold on to the house-even renting it out as a vacation home while my husband and I slept in our RV in a friend's driveway. Finally after juggling bills and wondering when the sheriff would be knocking on our door we sold, and then we left California renting for the first time in our lives on a lake in upstate Washington. It's been six months now. Since leaving the Golden State I've found two great jobs in journalism, and my husband has also had two dream jobs: making wine and working on a golf course. We love renting and we've made friends. I've even lost weight because there are no fast food joints in town.

So there you go! We became excited about our future again. We realized that being out of work was actually a good thing. The great thing about a crisis is that people start pulling together to seek support and help from each other. People are nicer and more willing to listen and help during tough times and almost everyone has a story

Whether you still live in your big, refinanced house with loan modifications or in a camper in the Wal-Mart parking lot, you need to laugh just a little at the situation while job searching. I did, and it doesn't get much worse than what happened to me. Step-by-step you will inch closer to a job -- and hopefully it will be fulfilling and something you are passionate about, but you'll have to change. Change your ideas about how much money you need to make and where and how you need to live. If you can't change, don't blame me or anyone else. It's all on you now, so get to work.

Candice Reed's new book Thank You For Firing Me becomes available on Tues. Order it here.

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