There's a friend of ours down the block whose youngest son was finally old enough this year to enter the first grade. Facing a nearly empty house, she decided that the time was right to re-enter the work force.
So what did this former marketing professional do? She took her real estate exam and became a Realtor, during the height of that industry's much-publicized meltdown.
Doesn't she read the newspapers or listen to the radio? Doesn't she know that, according to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors, the number of existing homes that sold this April was 3.5 percent lower than one year ago?
Turns out our neighbor does read the papers. She knows that membership in the National Association of Realtors has dipped by thousands since the middle of 2006, when the nation's housing slump began. She knows, too, that housing prices have dropped significantly since that same time.
She knows, then, that this isn't the best time to be selling residential real estate.
But that didn't stop her from entering the field for one big reason: She thinks she'll be good at it.
Just because others are struggling, she says, that doesn't mean that she won't be able to make good money selling homes.
She has a point. Before having kids, our neighbor worked in marketing. She knows how to sell. And real estate is all about marketing and promotion.
I admire our neighbor for her determination. I'm not sure if I would have entered the writing business this year, even though it's what I'm best at. Print magazines are shutting down on a regular basis. Even quality newspapers, publications like the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, are no longer publishing. It's not a good time to be a writer, either.
But kids are still enrolling in college journalism programs. They're still applying for low-paying jobs at middling newspapers. Why are they doing this? It's because they're good at writing. And, even more importantly, it's their passion.
The lesson here is a simple one: Follow your passion and your talent, even if it leads you to a field that the experts say is in decline. If you're good enough at what you do, and you work hard enough at it, you'll succeed.
At least that's what my neighbor says.