How to DRAW Mindful Career Squiggles


You’ve seen these images depicting the difference between what we are taught and the reality of success or achieving our goals.  It’s the same for career evolution.  For most of us, we draw squiggly career lines without even being aware of it.  Squiggles happen because that’s just the way life works. They happen when we connect with a new networking contact, get laid off, agree to a new ”short-term” project, or have a conversation with a total stranger in a coffee shop.

Squiggles are the unpredictable events in a world of things that we try to predict and control.

Knowing about the squiggle phenomena isn’t enough.  You could decide that since “random stuff happens” you’ll sit back and put pen to paper to connect the dots after the fact.   It is true that with hindsight you can link defining events more clearly; however, you can choose a more active role if you are first open to the curves, and then mindful of things that appear to have squiggle potential.  This way, you fully participate in moving the pen across the paper.

Remember these DRAWing tips when contemplating the art of your career:

  • Define and acknowledge your interests when they arise.  Notice long-standing themes.
  • Refine these interests and choose one or two on which to initially focus.  (It may make no sense to anyone around you that you would attend a conference on pet rocks, but, for some reason you’re really curious about pet rocks.  So, go.  New career opportunities unveil themselves when you boldly follow your curiosity.)
  • Act!  Create situations in which an opportunity for a squiggle could present itself.  (Say yes when a friend in a different industry asks for your help on a project, accept a board nomination, agree to be a guest blogger, etc.)
  • Watch for “serendipitous” events and align next actions with opportunities that show up.  (A Partner in XYZ firm invites you to an event.  Go if your gut says you should go, even though your brain doesn’t know exactly why.)  Pay attention to intuitive reactions.

While you’re DRAWing, don’t forget that:

  • Uncomfortable situations, the ones where you are forced to stretch sideways from your straight line goals, hold treasure.
  • Failure” is often a most valuable curve!  Sometimes more important things are on the other side.

Look back from where you are now and consider the unexpected connection or chance meeting that led you to your current position.   Accept squiggly lines as career reality and you’ll be free to get out of your own way!

Barbara reveals people to themselves. - TG

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