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How To Make A Mess Of Your Career.

December 9, 2008

Most people see their lives as one long storyline. “You start out life”, “she’s in mid-life”, “his life ended”. Most people see their careers the same way and it gives a nice linear perspective to how things should be.

The problem is, of course, in reality things are much messier than this. If you want to continue with the line analogy it’s the equivalent of Mr. Messy. A kind of pink, scrawly knot with eyes.

So the idea of success and failure is measured and reacted on based on this idea where we should be moving forward along a straight line. If you fall off or the line breaks this is an incredibly destablizing experience. Sometimes you have the impression of missing the train at the start of it’s line. I should have done this or that.

Without always bringing things back to the fact that things are going to be tough in the next few years, things are going to be tough in the next few years. Career change, job loss, business ideas going down the toilet are all going to screw up your linear world in a pretty major way. People are going to need to be more reactive, more mobile, and more prepared to embrace a grubbier version of the nice clean line which they built as a professional ideal.

All evolution comes through necessity
and maybe it necessary for you to think about having two lines, or three, or ten. And maybe they aren’t straight but squiggly. And maybe they aren’t drawn on paper but are in 3D and intertwine. Maybe compared to the version you had in your head of your career this is a dog’s breakfast.

And maybe this is a difficult excercise to imagine but compared to the emotional breakdown associated with seeing change as a catastrophe I know which one I’m going to try.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 10, 2009 1:53 am

    I like the Mr. Messy visual – so much about career change (and even of ‘success’) IMO appears random and tortuous to unravel with even the benefits of hindsight. It begs the question of where does career planning begin and serendipity end? Haha!

    Just yesterday I was watching a hilarious SpongeBob Squarepants cartoon where he was in driving school ‘bootcamp’ and the tough guy instructor had him counting every pebble on the road and then doing actual test drives – blindfolded.

    And then, surprise, surprise, our hero was driving perfectly but in the actual driving test exam he had to take the blindfold off and immediately forgot everything he learned and caused undersea carnage and mayhem…

    I wonder how blindsided we are about this linear future apparently unfolding. And don’t get me started on the linear past… 😉

    btw – great Seth Godin link. He missed so much, didn’t he!? I clearly remember 2 PC tech support engineers I knew arguing about whether to buy Microsoft or Cabletron stock back in ’89. I’d no time for stock market ‘gamblers’, so I just got on with my work 🙂

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