The University of Alberta gave out some honourary degrees last week and Bob McDonald, the host of CBC’s Quirks and Quarks was one of the recipients. He was recognized for is efforts to bring scientific information and discoveries to communities across Canada and around the world. Anyone who has listed to his show even once, has come away smarter.
Here is what he said in his acceptance speech “Figure out what you want to do and look for opportunities that point you in that direction. You’ll be amazed where you end up.” Every graduate and everyone in a career crisis could use this as a framework to figure out what’s next.
Figuring out what you like can be kind of difficult if you have been in a “hamster wheel” kind of job for a while. If you are feeling down and out about your work, it can be hard to identify what you like. It can feel like the whole thing is trash.
Try taking a walk or meditating or some other activity that does not require concentration. Let you mind wander to the last time you laughed at work. What were you doing and who were you with? Did it happen again? Where you with colleagues, customers or vendors? What lead up to the situation?
The answers will start to help you separate out the good parts of your work. It’s pretty easy to dwell on the crap but it doesn’t really help.
As you start to pick out the good bits ( liking customers, solving problems with systems, developing new ways to present a product), you can take that information forward to look for opportunities that focus on those good bits. The idea is to get into a role with more of the stuff you like and less of the crap you don’t.
When you get on the LinkedIn or Indeed to look at job postings, don’t start with a title. Try searching for the phrase or activity that you want to do. You will probably get some results that are not relevant but you will also get some things that you had never considered or didn’t even know existed.
For example, I like to make up recipes and experiment with ingredients. I put those words in LinkedIn and learned that I could be a bartender/mixologist or a beverage flavour technologist or a cereal product developer. Who knew?
Let’s be clear – every job has some junk but to maximize your impact and satisfaction, you want the junk to play a smaller part.