How to Find a Career You Genuinely benefit in online work

A problem that a lot of people have with their career is that it can actually be a source of stress because as human beings, we like the idea of certainty, but not knowing what actually we want to do with our career or whether we’re really going to enjoy it can actually be profoundly uncertain.

And even if you know what you want to do and what you enjoy, there’s actually no guarantee that you’re going to be able to turn that into a well paying and successful career, which again, adds to the stress. And so that translates into this career anxiety that a lot of us can feel, a lot of worries and apprehensions and self doubts about whether we’re actually on the right path and whether we’re actually truly fulfilled in our current jobs.

Now, a little while back, I spoke to a professor of behavioral science, Grace Lorden, who has written a book all about how to find and succeed in a career that you actually enjoy. And so in this article, we’re going to talk about seven evidence based techniques that you can use to move more towards a career that you actually enjoy. Tip one, task over title.

I’ve noticed a lot of times when I talk to people about careers, they’re attached to a label. So they want to be a trader or an investment banker, or they want to be a doctor, or they’re attached to a lifestyle. So they want to be able to go on a particular vacation or buy a particular car. And I think big journey is really thinking about, if I were to be a doctor, if I were to be a trader, what would be the tasks that I would be doing on a day to day basis? And would I ultimately end up enjoying those tasks? So the activities that I’m going to spend the.

Time in. Now, there’s so many studies from the field of psychology that show that a lot of your success in a career actually comes down to your happiness in that particular job. And what Professor Laughton is saying is that if you focus too much on the title of the job, you can actually forget about what the day to day of the thing actually involves. Now, this might sound super boring and obvious, but actually, I’ve seen so many people, and I used to fall into this trap myself as well of thinking that the career title of like, Oh, it’d be cool to be a neurosurgeon.

It would be cool to be a plastic surgeon. But it was only after I started doing some research into this career stuff that I realized, hang on, instead of worrying about the title, I should actually be thinking about what will my day to day job involve as a neurosurgeon? Is it actually as glamorous as the thing potentially sounds. And this relates to an idea from Tim Urban called pixel theory, which is the idea that life is a picture, but we live in an individual pixel of that picture.

So basically what that means is that we might think of our life as being this broad brush stroke, beautiful painting of like, what’s our job title? What are we doing for fun? What are our kids? This big high level thing. But actually, a lot of your happiness is governed by the day to day. Like, what does your calendar look like on a given day? And so when it comes to finding a job that you actually love, finding a career that you actually love, thinking about the day to day nature of the tasks rather than the broad abstract nature of the job title is potentially one way to help with that.

Tip number two, visualize your Me plus. Now, this was actually one of my favorite ideas from the book, the idea that you should visualize what Me plus is going to look like. Me plus is basically me or you, but it’s like the plus version of you, the version that you aspire to be. And this is the exercise that she’s got in the book on how you can visualize what your Me plus is going to be doing. And so you can fill these questions out for yourself.

And I’ve actually written them in the article description so you can just have a look there if you feel like it. But we’re asking, the overall big thinking goal for Me plus is… What is Me plus’ job title? Which industry will Me plus be working in? What’s the company that Me plus is going to be working for? It might be your own. Me plus will be running or working in a company that has the following characteristics. And you can add in what responsibilities you would want your Me plus role to have. And then on the following page, we’ve got a few examples of what tasks you might want your Me plus to actually be doing.

And then I’ve gone through and I’ve highlighted some of the stuff that’s most relevant to me, like I want to be disrupting how people think about things, providing consultation and advice to others, coaching and developing others, solving problems, updating and drawing on knowledge, teaching and training, performing for the public, creating and selling art, all of these different things that I like the idea of being in a career where I’m doing these sorts of activities.

And so really the point here is that on this first page, when you’re defining this Me plus thing, you are thinking about what’s your job title and what’s the big picture of what you’re going to be doing in this career that you really enjoy.

But then on the next page, you’re drilling more down into what are the specific tasks that you personally enjoy doing. And once you know that, then you can start taking small steps towards achieving that particular thing and hopefully work towards the career that you actually enjoy.

A lot of the jobs that look exciting, they look exciting because on TV they’re glamorized. I mean, law always is one that comes into my mind. And I think I would be a terrible lawyer because the commitment to a day to day that’s like six in the morning to eight in the evening is absolutely something that you still need today, sadly. But people don’t know about that before they go in. And I think when it comes to your think big journey, it’s about what would the tasks that I would be doing in 10 years’ time? How would I spend my Monday morning? How would I spend my Tuesday morning?

Tip number three, audit your time. Now, again, this is a pretty simple strategy that you can use to move more towards a career that you actually enjoy. And it involves auditing your time.

During the week, writing down what you’re actually doing, which you probably do already, but writing down whether or not you actually enjoy doing them. Did you feel, firstly, a sense of purpose that it was leading you to a better place in five years time, or did you feel fun in the moment?

Okay, so how does this actually work in practice? Okay, so what I’m going to do is I’m going to screenshot my calendar, and then I can use the screenshot to audit how I feel about how I’m spending my time. And so if something on my calendar is really taking me towards me plus, I can do a double plus on there. Then if something is taking me somewhat towards me plus, I can put a plus. If something doesn’t really help me get closer to me plus, then I can write plus minus.

And if there’s something that’s actively taking me away from the thing that I want, then I can do minus minus for that. And so what Grace says in the book is that once you figured out in particular what these minus minus things are, these are the things you actively want to avoid. These are the time sinkers. I’m pretty lucky because I have built a career for myself that I actually enjoy. And so I basically have zero minus minuses on my calendar. But back when I was at university, back when I was working as a doctor, a lot of my stuff on the calendar would have been minus minus.

And I’ve slowly worked to eliminate those things that drain my energy, that don’t actually get me towards a career that I actually enjoy. Tip number 4, 13 minutes a day. And so the other side of the coin here is that we also want to be investing in activities that take us closer towards me plus, i. E. Closer towards this career that we actually enjoy. And when it comes to thinking about this, Professor Lordan talks a lot about the idea of compounding.

So when people are choosing to invest, we accept compounding very, very easily. We accept the idea actually that if we leave money in for a very long period of time, it’s going to compound, so we’re probably going to be okay in our pensions. And it’s exactly the same here when it comes to your career. Those very small things that you’re going to do today. I ask for a commitment of 90 minutes a week, which for most people, regardless of how pressurized you feel, it’s very, very possible.

When you do the math, this is actually very doable. 19 minutes a week is just 13 minutes a day. We can all invest 13 minutes a day in trying to invest in skills or abilities that are going to help us develop a career that we actually enjoy. And so, for example, if for you, part of building towards this career you enjoy is, for example, learning how to code, you can probably find 13 minutes a day to learn how to code.

Yes, you probably can’t become an absolutely pro in just 13 minutes a day, but it’s definitely a skill that compounds over time. Now, recently, I also had the chance to interview Cal Newport, who is a professor of computer science and who’s written a bunch of books called, including Deep Work and So Good They Can’t Ignore You, about this study skills, productivity type stuff. And he talks a lot about career capital theory.

Basically, the idea is that if you want a career that you actually enjoy, it’s not just something that’s going to fall into your lap, it’s something that you have to earn. And the way you earn it is by developing career capital.

And the way you develop career capital is by developing rare and valuable skills. And this ties into this idea of like, if you genuinely want a career that you enjoy, you’ve got to actually have the skills for the job. And so if you can invest this 13 minutes a day into the development of your skills, then you’re going to be winning on that front. Tip number five, you probably don’t need to go back to university.

For people who do not know what they want to do, I would avoid committing to a four year degree or an expensive Masters program and really use the resources that are out there that are either cheap or free, because there’s so many things that we can actually learn now without having to step foot into a traditional classroom.

Now, I found this point pretty surprising given that Professor Lordan is a university professor and is therefore at least somewhat biased towards in favor of university education. But to be honest, these days, university is not completely worthless. I’ve massively benefited from a uni degree, and I generally do recommend that people go to college or university or whatever that is. At least it gives you backup options. But especially when people are a little bit further on in their career, it’s often a very easy thing to be like, Oh, I need to do the thing. Therefore, I’m going to go back to uni. I’m going to get a degree in the thing. I don’t know.

At least from people I know who are recruiting for jobs, getting an MBA, people with an MBA are actually looked down less favorably than people who have actually had some real entrepreneurial experience. So don’t necessarily default to thinking, Let me get a traditional qualification in the particular thing because you can learn almost anything on the internet and through books and libraries and stuff these days. Tip number six, embrace U turns. Okay, so at this point, we know what tasks we might want to do on a day to day basis to get towards this level of me plus or this career that we actually enjoy.

And we know what skills we need to get there, and therefore, we’re going to develop those skills and compound them over time. But even once you’ve nailed those things, you might still want to make some changes to your career. We as humans are generally pretty bad at estimating what our preferences and our values are necessarily going to be in the future. For example, when I was 16, I decided I wanted to be a doctor. Ten years later, I was like, I’m not really sure this medicine thing is for me. And this relates to an idea in psychology called the end of history illusion. And this is psychologist Dan Gilbert explaining the end of history illusion.

We asked thousands of people, we asked half of them to predict for us how much their values would change in the next 10 years. T he other is to tell us how much their values had changed in the last 10 years. And this enabled us to do a really interesting analysis because it allowed us to compare the predictions of people, say 18 years old, to the reports of people who were 28.

And to do that analysis throughout the lifespan. Here’s what we found. First of all, you’re right, change does slow down as we age. But second, you’re wrong because it doesn’t slow nearly as much as we think. At every age from 18 to 68 in our data set, people vastly underestimated how much change they would experience over the next 10 years. We call this the end of history illusion.

Firstly, we’re quite bad at predicting how things are going to change for us. But secondly, we’re also weirdly averse to the idea of a U turn. There is this idea that if you change your mind, that means you’re not being consistent and you’re not being integrity or whatever the thing is people used to describe this. But one of my key takeaways from the conversation with Professor Laudin is that when it comes to careers, U turns are actually probably.

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