Do something today that your future self will thank you for

I smiled when this quote popped up on Momentum, my browser wallpaper.

Since I’ve started My Working Title last year, I’ve met people at various stages of their careers and who were trying to figure out their career choices – undergraduates considering if they “should” finish University, young graduates looking out for jobs that make money and meaning, young adults asking what track they “should” be on, adults who are bored/ retrenched/ need to explore new paths to remain relevant.

The common thread I find is this – Career choices can be stressful. From the standard few professions, career choices have expanded to new fields, new combinations and new geographies. To compound the dilemma, there is an elevation of the expectation of jobs to go beyond survival to significance. Useful (or useless) advice (and pressure) like “Follow your passion and you’ll never have to work a day” add to the weight of decisions. So many are afraid of making the “wrong” choice.

This syndrome is called “Choice Paradox” – coined by famed psychologist Barry Schwartz. In a nutshell, when we have too many choices, it paralyses us. Instead of choosing, we flee. We lament (and think we’re doing something about it). We procrastinate (and think we will get to it). We flip-flop (we toss ideas in our head).

The “bad” news is this: We’re going to have more choices to make. “By one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.” – Chapter 1: The Future of Jobs and Skills, World Economic Forum. The good news is this, you may get to invent your own job title and job scope.

How might we streamline our choice set, so we can actually choose and move forward? How might we create our own work?

One key thing we advocate is this – do something. Create a few working titles. Go discover your self, story, situation and strategy. Conduct small experiments and test the results. It is OKAY to not know what you want. It is not okay to sit and do nothing.

If you’re needing a nudge, here are 3 tips that have helped our clients (and us):

1. PLAY IN TRAFFIC

Instead of sulking, procrastinating, overthinking, take steps, even small ones. What we’ve heard, seen and experienced is this – step out, talk about it and share initial ideas. More often than not, people will come along to help fill in the blanks. One step builds on another. You’ll get closer to where you want to be, your choice set will be clearer. Momentum is easier to generate when you are on the move (if you don’t believe me, ask your Physics teacher). Choose to move forward.

2. LIVE THE QUESTIONS

With the rapid change in our society/economy, our careers are now like a start up, and will always be in a permanent beta said Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder and Chairman of LinkedIn. Instead of only looking for answers, live your questions – It’ll broaden your mind. How might you make money and meaning so that you can feel more fulfilled? How might you develop marketable skills that can keep you employable for the next 5 years? How might you bring greater value to your organisation and to yourself?

3. EXPERIMENT

“What is your Working Title” is something we ask regularly. What is your Why–What–So-What? How are you testing your working title?

There are many career myths – Who said you need to only have ONE career track? Who said you can’t have a full-time job and experiment with others on the side? Who said you can’t combine and find a common thread for disparate industries?

We’re not asking you to quit your day job today and open a restaurant tomorrow. Why not start with a pop-up store to test your ideas first? We’re not asking you to quit the course you hate now and start a new one tomorrow. Why not sit in a lecture of the course you’re wanting to switch to see if you really want that. We’re not asking you to quit your current job (that pays the bills) and “find your passion and live your purpose”. Why not test to see if your passion is marketable?

Prototype smartly. Find your unique blend of purpose, passion and pragmatism.

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Last year, this comment by a post-graduate student made my day:

Thank you Jael! It was a great workshop experience yesterday. I came away feeling much more hopeful about the job search and part of that is from knowing I can prototype and test out different possibilities, and that that’s normal (not fickle).”

This 2018, we hope to continue to inspire and empower you to move forward, search and experiment. Your future self will say to you … thank you.

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If you’ll like to chat more on this, drop us an email at hello@myworkingtitle.xyz with the header YES.