Whats Wrong and Right on Career Advice

I came across two articles recently that prompted the next two posts. This post will be about the first article sent to me  by my friend Kim, called Beyond Passion: The Science of Loving What You Do. This starts off with the story of a lady named Laura who works as a data base consultant. She is an expert at what she does, gets paid really well, and takes as much time off between projects to pursue other things that she enjoys (pilots license, scuba cert, etc..). The article then goes on to compare two career approaches:

  • Introspective: finding what you’re passionate and make that your career
  • Self-Determination Theory (SDT): finding autonomy (controlling your time), competence (mastering a skill), and relatedness (feeling connected to others).

The problem with Introspection is that it’s hard to know your passions, especially when you’re younger. For a while I was lost in trying to find where I fit in, and thats because I get fired up about ideas, and sharing that knowledge with others. The downfall of this is that you can mistake your latest interest to be your passion. Unfortunately, treating the symptom doesn’t mean you solved the cause.

While SDT is interesting, I think it still lacks in the most important part – and thats finding something you enjoy. It’s going to be a HARD path to follow if you decide to master something that you are only semi-interested in. You really need a mix of both approaches – play to your strengths, and then the journey to SDT will be much easier.

The advice I’d give would be this:

  • Find the things that truly interest and motivate you. (As I mentioned in previous posts, I’ve found combining the MBTI, Belbin, and Strengths Finder 2.0 as a great way of painting that picture).
  • Dont think of jobs, keep this abstract to ideas, passions, interests, what you enjoy doing.
  • Once you get that down, talk to as many people as you possibly can about your interests to see if they know someone you should talk to.
  • Research first, then do an informational interview. DONT try to make yourself fit what they do, and DONT ask them for a job. What they do might not be the best fit, so ask them if they know of anyone else you should talk to.
  • Keep building your network, and repeat until you’ve nailed it.

Once you know what you enjoy doing, then you can go about mastering a certain skill in that niche that plays to your strengths even more.