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  • Writer's pictureSteph

Career smoothie – brainstorm with this delicious recipe

Updated: Nov 16, 2020


Red liquid filled glass jar on wooden plank. Photo by Myburgh Roux from Pexels.


Blend it up with some creative career thinking

If you’ve ever wondered what to do with your life, this post has all the answers.

Gotcha!

  • There is not one specific answer. You could be happy with many types of work and career paths.

  • Our interests, skills and experiences shape our life and change over time. We are dynamic.

  • Posts like these are fun to write, but the point of any good career brainstorm is to open your imagination so that you can express yourself. You know best what you need; what your values are; what you like and don’t like; financial considerations and aspirations; and, how you want to grow and contribute to the world.

Whether you are a novice or experienced chef – I mean, job seeker – this smoothie will turn out great because it’s all your own. You can’t mess up. Each person’s career smoothie will be different. Use ingredients that energize you.

Here is the base recipe. (Alter as needed.)

1. Be authentic.

You are exceptional. Whether you are inspired and driven by science, art, math, dance, surfing, social justice, languages, advocacy, traveling, teaching or the thousands of other things that we have in our world, the first task is to butterfly-net all of these fantastic thoughts and insights.

What makes you, you?

Give yourself lots of encouragement. If you’re working with a mentor or partner, their only role is to cheer you on. No negativity, no dream crushing and no pressure-cooker questions like, ‘what are you going to do with that...?’

Criticism, naysaying and self-judgement make career smoothies taste sour.

Here are some thought starters:

  • What could you talk about for hours?

  • What are you naturally drawn to?

  • What comes easily to you?

  • Which classes, current events and topics do you find important?

  • What sorts of work projects and tasks do you enjoy?

  • When time flies, what are you doing?

  • What do friends/family notice you become excited about?

Ps. Not everything has to be, or is meant to be, turned into a career. There are hobbies, lifelong learning opportunities, books to read, places to see and a wonderful, long life ahead.

2. Do a taste test.

Most of us would not get a computer, purchase a car, plan a trip, rent/buy a home or choose a college without investing time in due diligence: talking with people, gathering information and researching potential scenarios. Yet, when it comes to testing out career smoothie ideas, many of us skip this part or put a bunch of stuff in the proverbial blender, gulp it down, and are surprised when it doesn’t taste good.

A standard workweek is 40+ hours. You owe it to yourself to actively seek out information, so you can make a balanced decision about next steps.

Reach out to your alumni network, talk with people who are in the field, listen to podcasts or do online research. You can also consider internships, job shadow experiences, part-time jobs, online classes and/or volunteering. Some of this may be harder now, or take on a virtual form, but it is possible.

The goal is to take action, discovering which parts of your initial concept(s) you want to keep, toss, build upon or springboard into new directions.

3. Incorporate practicality but don’t let it limit you.

This is kind of like the green juice add-in. Yah, we know the nutrients are important, but we also want the smoothie to taste good. We desire meaningful work that allows us to manage adult responsibilities.

As you explore, it’s not only okay – it’s laudable to accept and understand that career ideas intersect with real world financial considerations, family situations, health scenarios, geographic preferences or additional time, education and training. Everyone’s practicality mix-in is unique, and we all have them.

It takes time to pay back student loans; you may not be able to magically uproot yourself (or your family) to relocate for a job; and, sometimes it takes more than one step to get where you want to be. My challenge and wish for you is that your career smoothie will always contain some amount of your dream ingredients.

Off-menu note: it has been my experience that women, first generation professionals and underrepresented job seekers are often talked out of their dreams while being underinformed about the cost of living. This makes it difficult to pursue opportunities let alone evaluate job offers. Get informed. Make sure to surround yourself with people who are knowledgeable, enlightened and who believe in you so that you won’t be blindsided with a salary that is too low to live-on and so you can hold onto (or carve out) a career path that is exciting to you.

4. Keep your smoothie flavor when you job search – and, accept an offer.

Your career smoothie is sure to be delectable by now. The final step is to honor your customized creation. As you research careers and receive job offers, recognize that different things make us happy at various times and life stages, and each job serves a purpose. Also, the job market is tough and it’s understandable to accept a role outside of your original vision. Agility tastes great! (Sacrificing all of what you want creates bitterness.)

What I hope and want for you, is to retain the flavor of your career smoothie. It doesn’t have to be an exact recipe match; get as close as you can.

You’ll know it tastes good when the blend of a job opportunity satisfies your values, interests, needs, and aspirations at this particular point in time.

Work and life go a lot easier when you're nourished by things that matter to you.

Keep mixing, measuring and blending your career smoothie. As with any culinary creation, practice and experience are the best (and most delicious) ways to enjoy.



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