We talked about My Uncomplicated Relationship With Education – Part 1 and Choosing a Major, the Pros and Cons, Usages, Realizations, and Regret? – Part 2. This one’s about how to pick the right career, the Action Bias way.
Career counselors, teachers, distant cousins, recruiters, they all have ideas on what you should major on, what your job should be, and what you should do with your life in general.
Recommended way #1
If unlike the “I knew what I wanted to do since I was three” group, you are unclear about your career path, fortunately, there’s now an abundance of ways to find the best job options for you. There are plenty of worksheets and resources you can use, and tests you can take, to discover what would make the most sense for you based on your KSA-s (Knowledge, Skill, Ability).
Recommended way #2
The Feedback Sheet
Besides tests, another good idea is The Feedback Sheet. There are 3 of us: our perceived self, the self that others view, and our real self. With this exercise, you can view the bigger picture and get to the next step, professionally and personally. My friend Kosovare said it helped her so it might be worth checking out.
By recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, you can find, or better yet, create the perfect career for you.
Recommended way #3 (+4)
Autobiographies (and obituaries)
Another worthy approach is reading autobiographies (obituaries too, but let’s not go there for now).
If you love someone’s job, try to get as much information on the actionable steps they took to get where they are now. Biographies are preferred, but interviews, blog posts, podcasts appearances should give you a pretty good idea too.
You don’t have to copy what they did, but studying the past will give you a fair chance to end up at that sweet career spot in the future.
Personality tests and assessments work wonders for a lot of people. If you read through Part 2 of this series “Choosing a Major, the Pros and Cons, Usages, Realizations, and Regret?”, you might have detected the resemblance between my decision-making process and this one. It worked for me, as far as majors go, but what about the jobs and companies and positions you choose, especially when you’re just starting out?
- Walt Disney was fired and rejected 300 times.
- JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book when she was 32, after 13 rejections.
Their stories and similar ones have been shared thousands of times. People love to preach about rejection being a part of life and that it’s never too late to be successful. Again, I agree, but when possible, your prime years should be spent as strategically and wisely as possible.
Okay, Delfina, can you be less vague?
I’m glad you asked. Here’s what I suggest.
The Action Way!
According to research from the U.S. Department of Labor, the average person will switch jobs 5-7 times throughout their working years.
Earlier generations could work at the same place until retirement, without ever switching gears, or asking “What if?”.
That’s definitely not the case now for most of us. Depending on perspective, you can blame our fear of commitment, insecurities, our generation plagued by perfectionism, unable to make a choice and stick to it.
My Perspective & Action Bias
Now more than ever, we’re celebrating creative pursuits, as well as considering factors like happiness when choosing a job. We have the privilege of choice and we shouldn’t take it for granted.
When looking for a dream job or the perfect career, it’s easy to obsess overthinking everything through, to the point where it can get debilitating. Stats say you can change your career path 5-7 times.
There’s no excuse to:
- not try,
- let perfectionism or insecurities stop us,
- remain trapped in the “perfect job” illusion.
The only way to change a situation and take charge of it is by taking action. Nothing changes if nothing changes.
“All the really successful people I know have a very strong action bias. They just do things. The easiest way to figure out if something is viable or not is by doing it… So, if you want to be successful in life, creating wealth, or having good relationships, or being fit, or even being happy, you need to have an action bias towards getting what you want.”Naval Ravikant, CEO and co-founder of AngelList, entrepreneur, investor, genius
With that action bias and an open mind, letting curiosity guide you, is the way I’d recommend to proceed.
Been dreaming of having your flower shop, or of being a healthcare UI designer, or of teaching a specific kind of dance you love? No matter how much you read on the topic or talk about it, unless you do the job you’ll never know if it’s right for you. Never. Hell, you can try being a florist, a UI designer, and a dance teacher nowadays!
Surely enough, as it always happens with synchronicities and “coincidences,” as I was writing this piece, I started reading “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now” by Meg Jay. The following passage from one of Jay’s patients perfectly summed up my thoughts on this matter, so I included it below:
I think about my parents’ question: “What are you going to do with your art major?” It makes no sense to me now.
No one I know really knew what they wanted to do when they graduated. What people are doing now is usually not something that they’d ever even heard of in undergrad. One of my friends is a marine biologist and works at an aquarium. Another is in grad school for epidemiology. I’m in cinematography. None of us knew any of these jobs even existed when we graduated.
That’s why I wish I had done more during my first few years out of college. I wish I had pushed myself to take some work leaps or a wider range of jobs. I wish I had experimented—with work—in a way I feel I can’t right now at almost thirty. I felt a lot of internal pressure to figure it out, but all the thinking I did was really debilitating and unproductive. The one thing I have learned is that you can’t think your way through life. The only way to figure out what to do is to do—something.
Trust me, I’ve been there. Thinking can get debilitating. The antidote is always doing.
How to know if a job is right for you? By getting it.
You can start small, as long as you start and keep going.
I started my career as a freelance writer, but it wasn’t until I had an office job and a boss that I entered “flow“, moved with an action bias, and learned what worked for me and what didn’t. I didn’t lack the discipline, but until I had tangible goals to achieve and someone to answer to, I wasn’t in “action” mode.
This piece began months ago when I typed into my notes app:
-nr.3 best way to choose a job/sth to do. conc: do it.
Yeah, I’m simple like that. Yet it didn’t really begin until I put myself in action mode and started writing it yesterday.
If I hadn’t sat down to write it, I would never know whether it resonated with people, if it made them giggle, or think, or smile, if they liked it or hated it or loved it.
Only by trying something, will you know if it’s right.
Talking to all the counselors and recruiters in the world will not give you the expertise and know-how even a few weeks on the job will.
Not too long ago, I started working as the staff writer for a holistic wellness clinic.
The irony is too much to unpack right now, but let’s just say my first day on the job was my last. (Update: I wrote about it.)
Yet, I learned a lot that day, to be more precise, those four hours I could stand to be there. No learning is wasted, and as long as your safety’s not compromised, no action is either.
Courage and consistency will take you where you need to be, but you need to start and DO. Don’t think your way through life.
I’m posting this series about education, careers and how to choose them to my blog over the next few weeks. Part 4 will be on how to make a difference in the world with your career. Find the others below
Part 1 – My Uncomplicated Relationship With Education
Part 2 – Choosing a Major, the Pros and Cons, Usages, Realizations, and Regret?