Monday, March 31, 2014

I Don't Know What I Want... Chapter 8, Part 3

I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This

By Julie Jansen

Chapter 8: Bored and Plateaued

Step 3: Create an Action Plan

Now it's time to do something about it! So make sure you have a good handle on the answers to these questions:
  1. What are the reasons for your boredom at work?
  2. How can you revitalize or change your current job or working situation so that you won't be bored?
  3. Do you want to pursue a different job withint your industry? Ifd so, how will you do this?
  4. List the reasons why you would accept another kjob in your industry.
Now, plan out what you're going to do in these areas:
  • Self-assessment
  • Research
  • Writing your resume
  • Networking
  • Delving into an unrelated hobby or interest
Good lluck! Let us know how it's going in the comments.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pocket Muse #1

The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing

Cover of "The Pocket Muse"
Cover of The Pocket Muse

By Monica Wood

What are you waiting for? If not now, when?
Oh, just drop me in the deep end, why don't you? I hate starting with stream-of-consciousness -- I hate stream-of consciousness in general, really -- but what am I waiting for? Maybe I'm waiting for the quarterlife crisis to pass, for things to either fall into place or for myself to stop expecting things to fall into place.

I used to be so terrified of getting a B. If you don't get all A's, high schools don't track you highly enough, then colleges don't want you, and then you'll never get a good job (all patently false, everyone knows that). But the obverse seems to sink in (am I even using "obverse" correctly?). If I get all A's, and the high school tracks me properly, and the college wants me, the good job should follow.

And all the parenting blogs remind you, don't praise your child for being smart, praise her for trying hard. It's totally true. If I was so smart, this would come easy. If I was so smart, I'd know what to do. And my conclusion isn't "Your premise is flawed," it's "Well, guess I'm not so smart." And as a kid, "smart" was a huge chunk of my identity. (This may read that I'm blaming my parents. I'm totally not.  My teachers, on the other hand, I'm pretty sure are culpable.) But if this doesn't come easy, then I'm not smart, so who the eff am I? And aren't I supposed to have this figured out by now?

And, as your second question asks, if not by now, then when???

...OK, that got personal. How'd you do with the prompt?
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

If money were no issue...

So let's look at another one of "those" questions...

Boss Cat title card
Boss Cat title card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If time, money, education and any other obstacle was a non-issue, what kind of work would you choose to do?
That's actually an easy one for me.  I've always said that if I won the lottery, I'd rent some office space and put a chunk of my money into trust. I'd then hire a trustee to act as my "boss." I would work with my "boss" to establish weekly writing goals, and I would have to meet those goals in order to get my weekly "salary."

That way, I could make writing (and editing, and re-writing, and submitting) my full-time job, complete with enforceable scheduling and accountability.

What would you do?
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What makes you happy? #39

Sports victories, believe it or not.

The Hawk - Saint Joseph's University mascot
The Hawk - Saint Joseph's University mascot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My alma mater won the A-10 Tournament this year, and I was fortunate enough to attend the quarterfinal, semifinal, and final games.

Sure, we lost in the first round of March Madness, but up until we beat VCU, we were a bubble team at best.

I don't even particularly like basketball unless St. Joe's is playing, but when they are, it's so easy to get into it.

I tweeted scores during the timeouts, if you follow that. I did have to look up what #THWND stands for,* though, which made me feel a little old.

And hey! Now the whole country knows about Phil Martelli's grandson!

How's your team doing?

*"The Hawk Will Never Die," if you were wondering.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

I Don't Know What I Want... Chapter 8, Part 2

I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This

By Julie Jansen 


Chapter 8: Bored and Plateaued

 Step 2: Explore Roadblocks and Opportunities

Man, I'm starting to get Bored and Plateaued with this section of the book.  Anyway!

Here, we go back to the Favorite Skills evaluation, and we brainstorm ways we can make them part of our jobs. Forget the obstacles to these ideas; this is no-wrong-answer brainstorming.

What did you come up with? Share in the comments.

Next, we look at the list of things we don't like about our jobs. Can we delegate them? Would getting rid of hem altogether actually help things? Again, we brainstorm.

Now, we look back to before the boredom set in. Did this boredom come on gradually, or did it show up all of a sudden? How would you feel if you weren't bored anymore? If you can't imagine it, think back to another time in your life when you were energized and challenged. How was that situation different than this one?

Now, the books reminds us, before you leave your current job, give an honest effort to revitalizing your old one.

But, if you genuinely try and it doesn't work, it's time to start looking elsewhere in your industry. Still, be careful to make sure your new job isn't just your old job in a new place.

And if you genuinely can't leave a work situation where you're left Bored and Plateaued, it's time to look around at other aspects of your life.  Review your Interests self-assessment and challenge yourself with something on that list. Maybe you'll find a boring job is an acceptable trade-off for supporting a rich after-hour life. Or maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to make a career of your after-hours passion,

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What makes you happy? #38

So, I really hate cleaning.

Toilet cleaning supplies.
Toilet cleaning supplies. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm not one of these people who gets joy out of it, or takes pleasure in it being done, or can use it as some sort of Zen meditation. It sucks, and as soon as you're done, you have to do it again.

But when you have houseguests, you can't really squeak by doing the bare minimum.

So it's awfully nice to look at everything that needs to be done, and say, "Since I did X today... there's not a lot left that needs to be done tomorrow."

I love that sense of relief, of reprieve.
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Monday, March 10, 2014

I Don't Know What I Want... Chapter 8

I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This

By Julie Jansen

Chapter 8: Bored and Plateaued

OK! New chapter, new work situation.

This chapter, as the name suggests, is about the "Bored and Plateaued" situation. This is for people who have peaked where they are; they've risen to every challenge successfully, and there are no challenges left in their current careers.

I'm going to quote the book now, because it explains this pretty well:
[M]ost people typically pass through three phases during the course of their careers: phase 1 -- low skill and high passion; phase 2 -- high passion and high skill; phase 3 -- high skill and low passion.
This chapter, then, is for people in phase 3.

So, on to Step 1. I think we all know where this is going...

Step 1: Complete the "Bored and Plateaued" Self-Assessment

And once again we refer back to our previous self-assessments, in this case the one on interests and the one on skills. Then, we look at the current work situation and answer some questions:
  1. How would you describe what you do for a living? (not your title)
  2. Which of your favorite skills do you use most frequently in your current position?
  3. What do you like most about your job?
  4. How could you augment this aspect of your job?
  5. What do you like least about your job?
  6. Can you find a way to reduce or eliminate this aspect?
  7. Describe your feelings of boredom.
  8. Describe why you feel plateaued.
  9. Do you currently have any specific career goals? If so, what are they?
  10. What do you believe are the obstacles preventing you from moving out of your Bored and Plateaued situation?
  11. What could help you move into a fulfilling and rewarding work situation?
Now, this situation doesn't really apply to me, but if it applies to you, I'd love to have a conversation in the comments!
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Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday Review #44

Last weekend, we originally planned to go skiing, but we couldn't find anyone to go with us, and since Chris and I are at such different skill levels that we wouldn't be able to ski together, we decided to cancel.

English: The Brooklyn Bridge, seen from Manhat...
English: The Brooklyn Bridge, seen from Manhattan, New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So Friday, we got Mexican for dinner and then met up with friends for drinks.

Saturday, we intended to go to the Brooklyn Brewery, but by the time we finished lunch, the line was so long that we just wandered around Brooklyn a bit before heading to Target First Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum. Afterwards, we got a really nice dinner.

Sunday, we happened upon an excellent place for lunch before shopping the outlets.

From there, it was one of those weeks where you're very busy, but not much actually happens.

Monday, I volunteered, and Thursday I went to a Rez Reading and stuck around for Shut Up and Write.

I picked at Chris's scarf and my twisty scarf, and I wanted to start knitting a sweater but it turns out I don't have enough yarn, so I have to wait a bit on that. I also continued to work my way through The Atlantic Migration.

That's about it. What have you been up to?

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lifehacker: To Figure Out What You're Good At, Become an Explorer

It's a question I've hit upon more than once: What on earth are my skills? What am I actually good at?

Skills Like This
Skills Like This (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In April of 2013, Dan Shipper's post was reprinted on Lifehacker.
Some people conclude that because they can't come up with an answer to that question immediately, it must mean that they're not good at anything.
Oh, yeah. And if you make that point to people, and they say, "Well, that's not true!", they're not likely to have counterexamples in mind. But in my experience, if you make that point to people, you're on a downward swing anyway, so that may not be the best example...
The process is almost "lean" in the sense that you want to try a lot of different things, and develop a strong feedback loop for what works for you and what doesn't. But what's really key is to not be discouraged by the fact that if someone asks you what you're good at, you can't give them an answer right away. You weren't meant to be able to do that. Figuring out the answer to that question is an organic process that unfolds over a long period of time. Expecting anything else is unrealistic: no one's power's of introspection are so strong that they can plumb the depths of their head and find an answer immediately.
That's true. We have to try plenty of things to really know where we excel -- and what we're passionate about, for that matter. But who has time for that? We need to have careers now.

Great, now I feel like I wasted my 20s, not having tried enough stuff to figure this out.  But did I? I don't feel comfortable saying what I'm good at, but I've got a decent idea of what I'm definitely not bad at, including but not necessarily limited to:

  • Having financial conversations (just not in the phone-monkey model)
  • Blogging (but blogging things anyone wants to read...?)
  • Proofreading
  • Reading comprehension (yeah, that pays the big bucks)
  • Figuring stuff out on Microsoft Publisher (but not Photoshop)
  • Turning mass mailings into assembly lines
  • Hydrating
  • Befriending elderly men
  • Holding an alto part in a six- to eight-part harmony
  • Making salad
  • Wrapping presents
  • Knitting up to a certain skill level
  • Standardized testing (well, I'm confident saying I'm good at it, but we all know it's meaningless)
  • Writing dialogue
  • Learning systems

I have no idea how to turn that list into a career, but there it is.

And this article has made me feel needy, so I'm going to ask those of you who know me: what am I good at?!

But I also want to hear what you're good at. Toot your horns! Pat your backs! Give me at least three things, and then if you need to be needy, I'll see what I can do about adding to your list. Mutual admiration for everybody!

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

On the Kindle

There are ways in which my Kindle is better than a dead-tree book (I imagine some of these ways are universal to e-readers, and some are not, but the Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Fire are what I am familiar with).

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...
Cover via Amazon
It's smaller than most books, but contains a library.

It sometimes can read the book to you, if you have to put it down and cook dinner.

Mine isn't backlit, but Chris's is, so I can read it in the car at night.

And since both Kindles are registered to my Amazon Prime account, we can buy the book once and both read it simultaneously, so long as we're careful not to sync it.

The Kindle edition is usually cheaper than the dead-tree version, at least new, although a used copy is frequently cheaper than the Kindle edition.

And the NYPL has a lot of books available for "free rental", which cuts the price even more, although that's a wash with the dead-tree edition, I suppose.

Chris prefers the Kindle because it's easier to read on the subway. He's not wrong, although I don't mind reading paperbacks on the train anyway.

The Kindle does fit better into my purse if I'm going somewhere that space matters. Whether I'm taking the train to a fancy restaurant or just waiting in line at Six Flags, it's good to have something to read that I can tuck away.

And I can always catch up on my phone if need be, I just have to remember to sync up afterwards so I don't lose my place.

Sometimes, if I want to read an especially epic work of fanfiction, I can upload it to my Kindle. No one knows, or cares, if I'm reading War and Peace or Harry Potter and the Cartographer's Craft.

I even have a waterproof case, so I can read in the bath or the hot tub.

But lending e-books is tricky at best, and giving them away is almost impossible. You can't sell or trade used e-books, much less buy them.

I think, despite all the great points of e-readers, I won't ever give up on dead-tree books. The Kindle is a great supplement, but never a replacement.

Even Captain Picard took a dead-tree copy of Ulysses to read on his rare vacation. And if it's good enough for Sir Patrick, well...

Where do you come down on the e-reader vs dead-tree debate?

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What makes you happy? #37

A plan. And, ideally, a backup plan.

Cover of "The Back-Up Plan"
Cover of The Back-Up Plan
Look, I'm a pessimist.  Fine.

But all too often, when there's no plan, when "We'll figure it out then," we end up sitting on our asses, eating takeout and watching TV. And sometimes that's wonderful; I've had nights in when I've ordered good pizza and watched some fun shows. Sometimes, that's what you need.

But sometimes, that's just boring.

And being a pessimist, I don't just want a plan. I want a backup plan. The more, the better, but one will do.

And when I have those plans, and they make sense, I can relax.

Oh, sure, something will still go wrong; I can't predict everything, try as I might. But I'll at least have some nice, comforting contingencies.
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