on making informed career decisions08 Jul 2017
among people of a certain age range / life stage, the question about what to do about career decisions is frequent. and heavy. as the world of work changes, our systems of figuring out how to move forward aren’t catching up. similarly, the advice the worked for our parents and their parents doesn’t really work anymore (if it ever did).
but even given all that, there is no reason make uninformed decisions about things as important as work (and by work i mean what we do to provide the resources for ourselves to live the lives we want).
the top level message here is to gather data (in the whole-bodied sense of that word). how?
feel which paths attract you and which ones don’t. notice what you daydream about doing. or what excites you when you think about being it. these feelings aren’t a sure indicator, but they’re definitely good data.
gather experiential data. for me, this has looked like seeking out individuals who are on a path that i’m thinking about exploring. it has also looked like listening to podcasts that interview people in a field i’m interested in (design matters, obsessed with design, longform, the great discontent interviews and podcast, on being).
research them. you know. google.
“play” with them. pick one and act out what it might be like to be someone on that path. do it for as long as makes sense: a day/week/month, whatever. take it as far as you want. dress differently, talk differently, connect with people who someone on that path would connect with, etc. notice what it feels like and what happens (especially unexpected things).
test drive one. get a summer job or an internship or apprenticeship somewhere. note that just because an org or company or person isn’t looking for interns doesn’t mean they won’t take one if you pitch them right…
as you take on these data gathering expeditions, keep track of what you learn. journal if you can, but at the very least take notes.
as you do this for one career path, you’ll get more efficient over time. sometimes that looks like a speed-up, but not always. for example, you’ll learn which data gathering pathway works best for you or gives you the best/most information. then you can focus on that/those one(s) for the next ones. you’ll also probably find sources of information that you can circle back to though this doesn’t apply equally across all data types. gathering experiential and also play/performative data is just time consuming by nature.
ok. two final notes:
having data won’t allow you to make the perfect decision.
why? three reasons:
it is generally not possible to gather enough data (because gathering data takes time and sometimes you need to make a decision before you have enough data)
even if you could gather enough data, data isn’t enough to make perfect choices (lots of other things influence our decisions and how we feel about them later).
things change. this includes you. it also includes the relevance of the data you gathered. maybe you did a bunch of career research in your 20s when you wanted to travel the world, but when you found your life partner partway through and decided to have a kid…
in today’s era, you aren’t really stuck to one path
for lots of reasons (mostly related to economic shifts), people aren’t locked into the same path forever. well, maybe we never were, but least at ceratin points in history it made more sense to be (either because of how society was structured or because the benefits of doing so were just so good). anyway, these days we have more options. you can:
do one for a while and then switch to another,
combine several at once, and/or
make a new one.
so yea. i’m interested in supporting people to do more learning about what they want to do for “work.” if that interests you too, get in touch!
words / writing / post-processing
542w / 23:05m / 43:00m