Personal Mission Statement

Some people are lucky. They know what they want to do from the moment they hit middle school, maybe even sooner. But not me.

Salem Sunrise

Some people are lucky.  They know what they want to do from the moment they hit middle school, maybe even sooner.  Some people look at their personal path extending back into childhood, remembering a love of writing, or horses, or cars, or math.  Although I, like Arthur J. Miller Jr. think that we can look back at childhood skills and flow experiences and point to innate skills, it’s not always easy to put together these things into a coherent career path and say “Well, I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter!”

Here’s a taste of my winding 12 year path –

  • I loved reading and writing and wrote my college essays about how I dreamed of starting a girls magazine.
  • By the time I graduated from college I thought I wanted to open a bakery in Seattle, building an intentional living community and hosting speakers.
  • Two years out of college I talked about my dream to manage a retirement community and direct activities for older adults.
  • A year or so into my first adult job I loved watching our therapists at work and I started taking courses at night with the hope of being a nutritionist (or maybe a physical therapist, or occupational therapist) and helping people reach their goals for healthy living and pain-free work.
  • Five years ago I wrote a different personal statement for graduate school about how I was excited to learn how to provide the structure and organizational development needed for people to flourish in the workplace, and for businesses to achieve better outcomes.

When I considered the various interests I’d had and what I wanted to accomplish, you couldn’t just point to them and say well, it’s “obvious” you’ve “always” wanted to work in a particular industry, doing a particular job.  Although the liberal arts are widely mocked as not pointing to a specific career – not every person can say they’ve always wanted a specific career.

I didn’t have one unifying vision throughout these 12 years post high-school to gain a specific position.  What did I do during this ambiguous time?  I explored my values and beliefs, as well as a wide variety of fields like social work, sociology, biology, psychology, business.  I tried out hobbies like leading an exercise group, taking courses in grant writing and anatomy & physiology, and volunteering with the SalemRecycles committee.  And let’s not forget attempting to be a North Shore Blogger.

This May I got a position as an HR Coordinator handling recruiting, organizational development activities, and organizing training opportunities at a small company.  I am happy here. For now.

Still, the story of Eric Liddell, the runner profiled in Chariots of Fire, haunted me. The famous line from the movie – “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure” –  is endlessly presented in Christian blog posts as the ultimate construction of how you can know what you’re designed to do, a personal mission statement.

And goddamn it, I wanted a mission statement too!

I wanted it because I believe a personal mission statement provides overarching guidance on what activities you should choose to spend your time on.  Life is equally about knowing your priorities and what you should do, and carefully choosing what you won’t.  This quote by Steve Jobs says it well, “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”  In August of this year that I was finally able to articulate what my mission statement is for my life.

So here it is –

My mission is to aggregate information, to create connections, and to stimulate reflection.

And when I do those things, I do indeed feel God’s pleasure.

This is a mission statement that fits in well with human resources, but this is a mission statement that could equally well apply to another career path I might pursue, such as a teacher, a therapist, a community organizer, a career coach.  Therefore, it’s a mission statement that can grow with my own experiences and expand to hold my ambitions. Looking at my previous career aspirations, it could have fit equally well for me if I’d been the director of a retirement facility, as if I’d been the editor of a magazine.

Ultimately those three actions are the way I orient my life, and the way I create value on teams.

How do I aggregate information? I read a lot. A lot.  But I don’t just read that information and keep it, I pass it on. Hence, creating connection.

Create connections?  I’m not a social butterfly, and never have been.  At best, I’m an ambivert, happily making friends one to two at a time, asking my friends for introductions to their friends, and slowly amassing an empire. I don’t do lighthearted easily, I’m much more likely to connect with you at the coffee shop and get your full life story.  Then, I use the information I’ve read, or gleaned from conversations to solve problems, and help improve lives.

How to stimulate reflection?  I’m a reflective person, but I would like to help others live intentional lives by asking open-ended questions that get at the transcendent things of life.

I feel simultaneously comforted and inspired by my mission statement, as though I put a missing piece into place in my life – the final thing I needed to help my values make sense.

What’s next for me?  Well, I’ve got the Mission, and I’ve got the Values, but the truth is – I’m still working on the Vision.

Hopefully sometime in the next 12 years, I’ll figure it out.


Other posts I’ve written about self-reflection you might like:

Creating a habit of Self-Reflection

5 Ways to Know Thyself!

Be Beth.

Be Beth. Why acknowledging what you like to do is a key part of growing up. Or… why I shouldn’t make resolutions to drink more.

happiness projectc overI am re-reading Gretchen Rubin’s book ‘The Happiness Project’ for the third time cover-to-cover.  I am always struck by her artful blend of practical and theoretical wisdom, all the while championing check charts, clean closets, and community.  It’s no wonder that I feel we’re similar.  Also, like Gretchen, I hate shopping, love YA literature, and take notes for no obvious reason.

Yet another way we’re similar is the wish to have other interests.  As she puts it, “Just because something was fun for someone else, didn’t mean it was fun for me… I love the idea of playing chess, going to a lecture on international markets, doing crossword puzzles, getting a pedicure, eating dinner at a hot new restaurant, or having season tickets to the Knicks. (115)”  Yet, she ultimately decides that a major Secret of Adulthood is “Be Gretchen,” to “acknowledge to myself what I enjoyed, not what I wish I enjoyed (116).”

Why am I reflecting on this now?

My 30th birthday is in six weeks and I’m trying to neatly package up the 30 by 30 list in (recycled) wrapping paper with a bow on top. If all goes as I hope, I will finish 19 of the items (possibly 22).  (Don’t forget I had to discard 2 items after multiple failed attempts) Yet, two of the items are staring me in the face, really simple items.  If I cared about them, these would have been knocked these off the list in the first 2 days of the project, and I would have been knocked out from the liquor content.

Learn to make 5 drink recipes by memory.

Learn four new functions on my camera (you know, to complement my full knowledge of how to use the auto function).

Yet, I’m sitting here at night, after my son is in bed with my full cup of… coffee, and adhering the last piece of tape to the box with my busted camera, ready to be sent to New York for repairs.

paintnight

My list of things I wish I enjoyed: attending rock concerts, going to paint nights, salsa and swing dancing, drinking alcohol, and taking pictures.

I hate admitting I’m totally apathetic about doing these things!  I feel strange for saying that, because everyone I know really loves and is passionate about them!

In fact, I have spent years coming up with sophisticated reasons for why I don’t like drinking, or taking pictures, not to mention the other 3.   Most people don’t even think about taking pictures, they just do it.   I’ve been known to say things like “I’m not that visually oriented.”  Yet, I’m as prone as anyone to oversaturate on pinterest and get all geeked up over a good infographic.  But, pull out my phone? Remember to bring my d-SLR with me?  Yeah, right.

As for alcohol, while I genuinely dislike most beers without fruit in them, I do enjoy a good mixed drink. I did learn how to make a Dark and Stormy, and it’s very similar cousin, the Moscow Mule.  However, I quickly lost interest in tasting various rums (another hobby I wish I had) or mastering the Margarita and perfecting a Cosmopolitan.  I’d rather just drink coffee. Or seltzer. Or hot chocolate. Even better, I’d rather eat dessert or any sweet food.  Weeks can go by, and I don’t drink alcohol, or even think about it.

Winter break Books

What additional items on the 30 before 30 list would have reflected a more genuine attempt to “Be Beth?”

My list doesn’t have any reading goals!  This absence is like a car with no engine.  Reading is a core aspect of who I am, and without adding it, I didn’t get very far, or acknowledge that a lot of my goals assumed I’d be reading.  It would be as if Lena Dunham decided to make a 30 by 30 list for herself this year, and yet didn’t set any writing goals.

Creating reading goals seemed like a cop-out, I was going to read whether I put it on the list of not!  However, it also ignored what it means to “Be Beth.”  This is definitely an example of poor self-knowledge, which is a key part of becoming an adult.  Case in point, my progress toward making mixed drinks included buying a book for to learn how to do it.

Lesson learned!  In the future, maybe when it comes to making that 5-year family plan, I’ll acknowledge who I really am.

Now… maybe I should just focus on making 5 mocktails from memory?

Creating a Habit of Self-Reflection

Here are the habits I’ve created to cultivate a lifestyle of self-reflection. What do you do? Is self-reflection important to you?

Self Reflection Habits
Photo via Flickr: Nomadic Lass 246:365 – Journaling

The post I wrote on 5 Ways to Gain Self-Knowledge continues to be my most viewed post at All Growing Up.   Self Knowledge is one of my core values and an activity that I spend time in weekly, monthly, and yearly.

However, in the original post I really focused on two types of Self-Knowledge activity,

  • Broad and ongoing suggestions.
  • One time (or infrequent) specific actions that you can do such as taking the Meyers Briggs or other tool like the DiSC or Strengths Finder.

Developing good habits is usually contingent on attaching the new habit to an already established one. Habits make up a lot of our day and adding in another step to your routine doesn’t have to be difficult.

Here are the habits I’ve created to cultivate a lifestyle of self-reflection. 

Please add your own in the comments section.


WEEKLY

My Journal – is a significant part of my self-reflection process. Each Sunday I sit down and take inventory of the past week – what were the highs and lows, what are the priorities for each week.   I try to hit on the things that I’ve been mulling over, or things that I’ve realize about myself based on conversations, events, and readings.  I also make my to-do lists – with about 10 projects each under the categories of Friends and Church, Home and Family, Self Development, and Career and School.

Update my GoodReads List – I consider Goodreads a form of micro-blogging, similar to Facebook and Twitter. Updating Goodreads with new books I want to read is an excellent chronology of what I’ve been hearing about or reading. I also like to date books finished.

Using technology to track moods and influences, to take a pulse, certainly simplifies data collection, and can be visually stunning – and possibly even obsessive. If you haven’t heard of Nicholas Felton, who created Daytum, you should look him up. If I had a smartphone, I’d use this

MONTHLY

Graph Paper – As much as I’d like to say I use my smartphone, I’m still stuck in 2003… and sometimes 1980. I often get into these real data gathering moods on basic health indicators, like hours slept, or days exercised, how many servings of produce I eat each day, and if I flossed my teeth. But then I put it on graph paper I keep in a Dunkin Donuts calendar next to my bed and calculate rough percentages at the end of the month.  Super low tech – maybe I’ll ask for a fitbit for Christmas.

Answering Set Questions over a period of time is a useful way to see change. Each month I try to answer the following self-reflection questions (in said journal).  If my answers align with my beliefs, I’m on the right track.

  • What do I want to do more of?
  • What do I want to do the same?
  • What do I want to do less of?

 YEARLY

10Q Questions – At the beginning of October I finished my yearly 10Q reflection. The site, run by a Jewish organization, sends you a set of 10 questions that allows you to reflect back on your year.

GoogleDocs – I also reflect around New Years Day (January), and my often my Birthday (April). For these, I generally open up GoogleDocs, where I have a couple dozen documents with titles like “5 Year plan” and “Career Goals 2012-2017.” This is a work in progress for me, since I don’t follow a predetermined set of questions or system. Who knows, maybe that should be a goal for my 40 before 40 list. Ha.


What about you – do you have self-reflection habits? Are they daily, monthly, yearly? Do you think a system is best – or should it be more organic?

What about apps or websites – how do you organize your data?


5 Lessons Learned this Summer

Five growing up lessons I learned this summer about myself, work, christianity, and ginger beer punctuated by the beautiful Salem, MA and Boston, MA harbors.

Salem MA Harbor Derby Salem Lighthouse

1. The two most questions to learn to ask as a critical thinker and kick-ass adult are: What is the context. What are the possible consequences. Every time I get myself into trouble it’s pretty much because I forget to ask these questions. Yeah, I got myself into a little bit of trouble this summer, but it wasn’t terrible enough to blog about it.

Mahi Mahi Cruise Marblehead Lighthouse Salem Harbor Sunset

2. I am a morning-not-a-morning person. Every person who has ever lived with me can vouch that I’m a grumpy gus from the moment I roll out of bed until at least an hour later, or when I get my first cup of coffee – whichever happens first. I don’t like small talk, whiny kids, or anything that stands in my way.

Which is why I was so surprised to take the Employee Engagement Accelerator Index at my work and have a lightbulb realization that when it comes to WORK, I am most definitely a morning person.  I get the most items on the check list checked off, am able to write decent prose, and function credibly and skillfully at meetings. On the other hand, if you get me at 3pm, all of these abilities have strongly declined.  So. I guess I am a morning person. Kind of.

Boston Harbor

3. I am still excited by Industrial Organizational Psychology – the study of behavior and motivation in the workplace.  As I’m finishing up my MS degree I’m not required to take any more classes, but surprise, I am motivated to learn more about this topic.  Unlike the end of my undergraduate career, where I wanted to run as far away as I could from all things academic, I’m still reading and learning the way theory and practice blend together. This summer I have been reading Aubrey Daniels “Bringing out the Best in People,” Donald Brown’s “Experiential Approach to Organization Development”, and plenty of great HBR articles and blog posts.

Cosco Shipping Freight Georges Island Boston

4. If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, be a servant to all.  And service can only be Christian if you take the same attitude as Christ, in humility through prayer.  So many times I have forgotten basic lessons in Christianity, and it’s nice to be reminded of them through a very intense summer. It required more prayer than usual, and service outside of my comfort zone as well as finally, squarely, inside of it.  Although I haven’t always been sure of my spiritual gifts this summer I was able to exercise some of them in a very good way.

Georges Island Boston Ma Georges Island Boston Ma

5. Ginger Beer is where it’s at.  A few years ago I vowed to drink more liquor, which didn’t really happen.  In the last 3 weeks I’ve been working oh-so-hard to learn to make better drinks as part of my #30by30. Part of this, has just been understanding more about the basic components of drink making.  The other part has involved drinking plenty of Moscow Mules and Dark and Stormys.


How about you? Any lessons learned this summer?

Pictures from my Salem Harbor Mahi Mahi cruise and trip to Georges Island in the Boston Harbor last week – Another 30by30 crossed off the list.

Be sure so follow along with my #30by30 progress on facebook – I update a lot more there than here.


Single People, I hear you!

Several weeks ago a very brave woman in her mid-thirties stood up in my church and shared her testimony as a single person who wishes she were married.  The audience, as you might expect from a moderately conservative Baptist church, was married couples attempting to keep their offspring from crawling in the rows, with limited success.  (At least one skittered past me that day).  There were few other singles in the church, but those that were, were mainly in the pews filled with college students.

But her words hit me deeply as she talked about the longing to get married, the frustration with the time it was taking to find the right person with which to settle down.

I’m almost as far from single as one could get, barring those few who met in high school or before.  I met my husband when I was 19 and he was 17, and though it most certainly wasn’t love at first sight, by the time I turned 24 there really wasn’t much question that we would be getting married.  This year, though only our 4th anniversary, marks our 10th year of friendship.

How then can I, who’s never made an online dating profile, never been on a blind date relate to anyone who’s single?

Because I, friends, have been unlucky – not in love – but in careers.

I like to say of my resume – great life, terrible paper trail.  I stand by each of my experiences as necessary to growth – but, like a string of exes, they’ve each taught me what I didn’t want.

Like many others who I’ve talked to, both in love and careers, early on I received little advice beyond admonitions to lighten up and it would happen, or to follow what basically amounted to ‘common sense’ in both the job search or in the quest of relationships.

“Get good grades!”
“Only date Christians!”
“College is for everyone”
“You’re still young, you’ll find some[one/thing].”
“Network”
“Just get out and meet a lot of people.”

But these cliches aren’t really that helpful when you’re home at night and start wondering –

What’s wrong with me?
Why haven’t I found my passion yet?
Or – worse – why hasn’t my passion amounted to a job that supports me/ creates wealth?
Am I smart?
What am I doing wrong?
What is wrong with me!?

And you attempt to answer that last sentence with any amount of gleaned wisdom from thoughtful well written blog posts by your peers – who are successful – and have managed to secure positions that they deserve and earned.

Am I just unlucky? Should I have just tried harder?  Did I end up on the wrong path so long ago that there’s no finding my way now?

In those bleak hours, that happen, not every night, but unfortunately every now and again, I must review advice and comfort from what I’ve learned.

1. There is no one right path/ Mr. Right. It’s hard when you’ve tried a string of actions that hasn’t repaid your investment, or when you are surrounded by stories that champion the people who knew when they were 17 what they wanted to be. A culture that celebrates child geniuses and profiles CEOs under 40.   That shows success can be had anywhere and success means money, fame, and power.

Hunt out the other stories, and don’t believe lies that tell you there is only one right way to do things and you’ll know it when you see it. You might not.

2. It is not now or never. If you do not find the perfect job (or date) today that does not mean that you will be forever stuck in your parent’s house, or in a basement for the rest of your life.  It only feels like it.  Any psychologist worth their salt will tell you to banish dichotomous thinking whenever you can – it isn’t all or nothing!

3. You are loved. Really. And as someone who is loved, you should continue to be purposeful.  Vision is important – but, vision, I think, can be continually shifting – constantly being refined by life experience and wisdom from respected others.  If your vision looks different than it did when you were in high school.  That’s fine.  Sure, you may be no Donald Miller, but then, who is? As the late great Kurt Vonnegut said – You wouldn’t have written Beethoven’s  9th Symphony anyway.

HOWEVER – it is possible to live purposefully without a clear, well-defined end vision.  I wrote a little bit about what to do when you feel “in between times” and I stand by my suggestions. Make friends, invest in community, volunteer, support causes, learn.  If you can’t see where you will be in 40 years, that is okay – why don’t we just try for 1 okay?

4.  There is more advice and help out there than cliches.  There are plenty of ways to glean self knowledge and to continue to search for and find ways to express your passion while waiting for vision to blossom. Don’t assume that it will come to you in a dream – and – forgive your parents or guidance counselors who gave you bad/no advice.  You’re a grown up now.

However, sometimes cliches make the best endingsSo get out there and Try Try again.

Or at least eat some discount chocolate.

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If you liked this post about my career woes you might also like: Career Advice for my Younger Self.

And you should probably share this post with your friends 😉

Tackling To Do Lists

Understanding (your) Self:

In my social psychology class one week we studied the concept of The Self.  Roy Baumeister, author of the popular book Willpower, and editor of the text my class used, proposes that there are three basic roots, or areas of study, when considering selfhood: Self Awareness, Interpersonal Relations (how others perceive us), and Self- Control (how we make and achieve goals).

Since Self-Control is fascinating to me as a person trying to navigate this ‘growing up’ thing, I paid particular attention to that section of the text. I grinned when Baumeister cited some research that confirmed my personal experience that “self awareness is essentially for the sake of self-regulation.” Self regulation is therefore necessary to achieve goals.  My initial impressions of adulthood are that most of it is an exercise in self-control.

Self Control and Adulthood:

Well, in order to achieve anything long term (and in direct contrast to childhood – almost everything necessary to function in adulthood is long term – owning and caring for property, paying bills, contributing meaningfully to society, raising children…etc) you need to have a certain level of knowledge and mastery – which is mostly achieved through self-controlled study or experience.

Which leads to another personal conclusion that to-do lists are a necessary tool of adulthood in a modern world where we’ve got dozens of competing goals we need to decide between prioritizing.  BUT… even though tackling to-do lists will help you get many things done – depending on your level of energy, time, and motivation you might find it impossible to check things off.

This is why I think it is equally important to categorize things to do and then use the right strategy for tackling the To-Do list. I don’t think you can always accomplish tasks in the same way each time, mainly because you become accustomed to that particular approach and then start slacking off.  There’s a similar phenomenon in dieting – people get bored of eating cottage cheese, salads, and chicken every day so they start seeking novelty – and fall off the bandwagon.

Here are 3 of my strategies for tackling to-do lists and achieving focus.

Note: These strategies are particularly for tackling mental work.

3 Things Method

The Three Things Method:

Every 2 weeks I make a list of mental tasks that need to get done – generally things I can’t accomplish with my son around. This allows me to identify what times are useable (nap time, bed time) and what times aren’t (the witching hour 5-7pm). Then depending on the day and amount of time available, I pick 3 things (the most important on the list!) and focus on ONLY those 3 things – nothing else on the master list.  Clearing my mind of the other items makes it easier for me to focus.

Checkbox Method

The Checkbox Method:

I have a weak prospective memory – or in other words – I’m easily distractable. (Doesn’t the first one sound so much better?!).  I might sit down to read a book, then remember I need to answer an email, and find myself reading a newspaper article which prompts me to check my bank account.  It’s easy (for me) to lose an hour of productivity that way. Which is why, when I often start work I take a scrap piece of paper and make a series of boxes.  Each box represents 15 minutes of focus on a task.  If I complete 15 minutes of focus, I check it off.  If I don’t, I X it.  I feel a certain level of shame if I look at more than 2 boxes with an X in them, which prompts me to try harder to focus.  In my experience – focus begets more focus… and I can usually con myself into just fifteen more minutes of work.

Categorize Method

The Balanced Modes Method:

On my master mental tasks lists there are generally three types of tasks: thinking, reading, and writing. Although I sometimes have the energy to tackle 3 reading items… I often don’t. Who can read 100 pages of psychology textbook at once?  Answer: Not me.  So, I try and balance the tasks that I accomplish by switching between two modes.  First I’ll read for a set amount of time or length – then I’ll write for set amount of time or length.

Additionally…

I also like Gretchin Rubin’s 15 Minute “Tackle a  Nagging task” method which I read about in “The Happiness Project” (highly recommend!).  Sometimes tasks are so tedious, or difficult, or simply abhorrent that you can’t do it,  So, you break the task down into 15 minute pieces and you commit to doing 15 minutes (and ONLY 15 minutes) on the task every day until it’s complete.  This works for mental tasks AND other household tasks.

Could you see yourself using any of these strategies?  Do you have other strategies to get yourself through your to-do lists?

Career Advice for my Younger Self

Career Advice WordPress

I’ve been poring over my resume in order to update it with my new (almost completed) degree, as well as recent projects, experiences and high hopes for the future – Oh wait, that last bit just goes in my diary.  So I’ve been considering lessons and career advice I wish I’d known during my first  job… but that I’ve learned along the way since then.

After a series of eclectic high school and summer jobs (orthodontist assistant, library page, soccer referee, camp counselor..) I finally got my first real job – as in only 40 hours a week, with a liveable salary – as a twenty-two year old.  The salary was enough to move into my first real apartment, which I wrote about on Connect Shore last year.

But, as most of us know, first jobs are well… first jobs and the learning curve is steep, and includes more than just the basics of mastering the job description.  Eventually you move on, leaving behind a trail of mistakes, growth, and new references for your resume.

Here are the top 5 pieces of career advice I wish I’d known on my first day of work.

1. Write down what you learn and what you want to learn.  The first two weeks on the job I was an eager beaver writing down all the important things I could – like where the emergency kits were, what my employee ID number was, and how to create the best daily schedule.  But over time I stopped making an effort to write down details. Since then, I’ve become a lot more conscious of holding onto lessons learned.

At the beginning of each semester I take the time to write down a couple goals that range from details:  answer ALL the emails within 6 hours to content: Read at least one supplementary reading the teacher mentions and use it in an assignment.

At the end of the semester I write down what I learned: personally: don’t take three classes at once! and scholastically: I now know about Michael Porter’s Shared Value theory and the importance of reviewing key learnings in training programs.  You could also choose to write down professional learnings, emotional learnings, or simply various observations.

Taking the time to keep a learning journal will help you remember and practice the lessons you’ve learned.

I also try and write down what else I want to learn in the future about the topics I just started exploring through a class: for example I want to learn more about concrete ways businesses are able to integrate sustainability practices into their strategy and bottom line.  This applies equally well to jobs – there are always more things to learn.  This can help you make the most of even an entry level job.

2. Office politics matter. People, and the way they work together, are incredibly important.  Some people have even disagreed with the venerable Abraham Maslow to say that social needs may be as important as physical needs – at least on the job.  It’s worth the effort to learn the strengths and weaknesses of your coworkers, to learn how to manage your boss (as the Harvard Business Review calls it) and your coworkers, along with learning how to manage yourself.  It’s also worth it to know when to get involved in a conflict, when to walk away, and when to ask for help from your boss in a conflict. Yeah, that’s a story for another time.

3. Track how you work and what is involved with big projects. I have a bad habit  of wanting to do half of my week-long to-do list on Monday morning. Then, when 1pm comes around, I’m disheartened that I couldn’t tackle those first 16 hours of work in 4 hours. Be realistic and know how long answering emails, writing reports, and travel time can take. Writing a paper is a project – but there’s a lot more to it than simply “writing” (see my last post).  There are “sweet spots” for working on different types of work, and figure out when and how the pieces of the puzzle (projects and time available) fit together.

4. Reach out to like-minded people AND/OR join a professional group.  I got disheartened after two years of working in my first job because of a dearth of connections.  I liked my coworkers enormously, and office drinks were fun… but other people didn’t seem to view what the work the same way I did.  Some were putting in hours to get paid, others were focused on daily tasks and I wanted to talk the high level view.  I got so frustrated, in fact, that I first began my quest to re-assess my skills, desires, and interests in order to find another field to work in.

Perhaps if I had known to find a professional group, a mentor, or reached out to others in a group for career advice, I might have found a way to use my skills in that field.  Talk about work from a step-back every now and then with other professionals in order to get a fresh look, don’t just whine, moan, and complain about the daily grind.  Reach out to mentors!

5. When the right time to move on is. I wish I’d known the answer to this one then, and I still haven’t had enough experience to be able to answer the questions now – but I really wish I knew!  Some experts say that when you’ve stopped learning anything new, that’s the time. Other say, when you’ve mastered the core responsibilities of the job.  I don’t think these take into account the fact that people aren’t just career-bots and may also need to accommodate rest-of-life circumstances when they consider moving to a new job.  However, if you’re feeling burned out, it’s probably time to move on now!
How about you? What career advice would you have given yourself when you started working?