Here’s the Turkey Day edition of your weekly dose of clarity in the confusing world of career and professional growth.
1 RECENT ARTICLE
A common mistake I see from high-achieving jobseekers is picking their dream job before knowing their own strengths. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Recently, I started working with a PM client who had spent most of this year recruiting, but hadn’t received an offer yet.
Telling good stories was an uphill battle for him until we discovered that his true love in product development was user research.
Once we did, we pivoted his focus to User Research roles. Shortly after, he expressed how crafting his stories felt simpler and breezier — because the role fit better with his strengths.
You can get more leverage out of your strengths too. In this article, I share tools to help you discover your own superpowers, accelerate your job search, and grow your career to new heights. Read on if you want to learn a skillset that’ll serve you well for your entire career.
2 INSIGHTS FROM MY OBSERVATIONS
I. Focus on inputs (i.e. intention and effort), not outputs (i.e. results and rewards), when taking action based on your values.
A good friend privately shared with me that Community was a core value for her, but on her current team, she never felt comfortable with bringing her whole self to work.
That’s why she wanted to prioritize a team culture that encourages everyone to get to know each other personally in her next role. At the same time, she wondered if she was expecting too much from her work relationships.
My perspective was to try starting from a place of intention, not expectations of what these relationships will look like. By aligning your efforts with your values, there’s a greater chance of feeling satisfied with how you honored what’s important to you rather than feeling disappointed by how the actual outcome looks different than your expectations (which it almost always does).
II. Many professionals seek out autonomy, but few define it.
Autonomy can be interpreted in countless ways. It can mean having creative freedom to explore various questions and opportunities. Another slice of it is a flexible working arrangement — freedom to work from home so you can spend more time with family or while you travel.
Or it might be expressed as being free from managerial responsibilities, as one of my clients remarked recently.
Think one level deeper than just “Autonomy.” Once you have a set of tangible criteria, then you can use it in any job search process. For example, during your interviews, you can look for where ideas come from — are they all being thrusted top-down by management? Or do bottoms-up ideas from ICs also flourish?
3 RESOURCES WORTH VISITING
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of US adults fail to get enough sleep on a regular basis.” Not a surprise, but still striking. Sleep may be one of the biggest public health issues of our time.
The article goes on to mention recent studies of emerging headsets that synchronize your brain waves using gentle sounds, producing more short-wave sleep for users. Aside from getting new toys — when clients ask me what’s the one thing they can do to prepare the night before an interview, I always recommend a good night’s sleep due to its close link to performance.
II. The Neuroscience of Anxiety (Scott Young)
Great summary of the book, Anxious by NYU neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux. One key takeaway for me was that our anxiety is often driven by two parallel systems, conscious and nonconscious states.
Using cognitive techniques to change our beliefs only influences the conscious state. Other strategies like exposure therapy, which focuses on exposing patients to their fears, are more effective at targeting the nonconscious state. To holistically address our anxieties, it’s important to emply strategies that target both states.
For example, one of my former clients struggled with interview anxiety. The strategy that helped his anxiety the most was akin to exposure therapy — doing many, many interviews and experimenting with various preparations for each one. However, it also helped him to have mental frameworks that he could bring into each round.
III. The First Thanksgiving (NY Times)
“Like many people who have recently arrived in America from other countries, Ms. Anjari, 33, found the [Thanksgiving] holiday a bit perplexing. At home, she said, family celebrations and feast days are reserved for religious events. “People do things in so many different ways here,” she said: how they dress, how they raise children, how they worship. “I was surprised that there’s a holiday that everyone celebrates.”
In light of the holidays, here’s a touching article about Mayada Anjari and her family’s first Thanksgiving after a 3-year journey as refugees from Syria.
As always, thanks for reading. I wish you a Thanksgiving filled with gratitude, generosity, and compassion no matter where you are in the world.
Career Coach and Writer