What do I want to be (should I ever)… grow up?

Sometimes it feels like I might never know what to call My Career. Not my job title, my recent freelance project or a batch of photos I’m currently editing. My actual career. More than often I’m asked ‘what IS it that you do?’ And out tumble a mix of words describing what it is that I think I do. Obviously there are variables within the mix of these words, depending who has asked me the question but also depending on which way the wind is blowing. In short, I feel that my ever-evolving digital creative existence is an odd-shaped object hurtling towards any swing door in its path…

Bearing in mind that only 27% of us think we’ve might have made the right job choices, it seems that I’m not really alone in this ‘what shall I do when I grow up’ confusion. And of course there’s no surprise that it takes a couple of marketers to spot the gap in this ‘marketing’ market – in steps the creative life planning duo Bill Burnett and Dave Evans and who immediately brand it *design thinking*.

Yes these ultra clever (ex-Apple designer/engineers) people are behind a course called The Design Programme at Stanford University where they do their utmost to prevent students from graduating without the personal design tools they need to plan their next move, as well as the next few years ahead.

I couldn’t wait to meet Bill and allow him to help me work out what’s next. In fact, the room was packed, full of high level, already successful execs looking for that same shining light.

But before Bill’s interactive session took us anywhere close to answers, he needed us to grasp some proper theory – here are my top 5 take-outs for you all to contemplate:

  1. Did you know that you can never deal with more than 4 or 5 choices?  Do you know about the jam story? Oh and by the way don’t ever keep that choice open once you’ve made it… our brains will constantly re-evaluate it, given half the chance causing ABSOLUTE confusion…
  1. Don’t be trapped in your own story. Such an interesting idea that you can trap yourself whilst trying to untangle your life plan.
  1. Talking of planning. Just don’t do it too much. Our lives can’t really be planned much at all.
  1. If you really want to do something. Anything. TELL someone.   Anyone. The moment you do, your relationship with that something will change.
  1. Do you appreciate which parts of your week leave you feeling energised and those which totally drain you? We plotted our own week graph before it all became that bit clearer. From there, Bill advised us to surround or sequence our negatives with positives eg a little watercolouring after a particularly soul-destroying, slightly toxic weekly client call…

We also discussed Bill’s Good Time Journals and forced ourselves (because it’s just not that easy) to fill out varying Odyssey plans. Bill and Dave’s book is well worth a purchase – I’m working through it already. Cliché, I know… but the course, the book, these men… they GET IT. They really do come at this wood/trees confusion with some sound logic and strong navigation.

Lastly (before you rehash your entire life) I’d suggest you Google: Bill. There are a number of youtube video he has recorded which also make a lot of sense. He focuses on our fear of novelty and ultimately how, if we master any new skills we need to create meaningful work, we can readdress at our goals, our purpose and understand what essentially gives us a happier balance.


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