On Ego and Your Work Identity

Self-portrait by Robert Mapplethorpe

A few weeks ago, I facilitated our most recent career group session on the topic of career identity.

My particular interest in career identity came from my meeting with David, the life coach, back in 2010. At the time, I was struggling with whether to stay at my job or leave to make a big career change. One thing that came up in our session was that the pleasure I took in writing when I was a child has stayed with me through adulthood. David suggested that because I considered writing essential to my interests, it was appropriate to self-identify as a writer to others. I understood his point in theory, but it was too uncomfortable in practice. I didn’t write enough qualify. In my mind, writers can’t just enjoy writing occasionally in their free time – they have written actual books, they are journalists or poets or fiction writers. Calling myself a writer felt preposterous. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. (read more…)

Career Advice from a Tarot Card Reader

tarot cards

Stepping into the shop was like entering the wand store in Harry Potter. The store was small, dark and filled with crystals, swords, and rows of books on mysticism, goddesses and sacred texts. Velvet chairs faced a fireplace and the proprietor immediately launched into a rant about how much he hates the term “new age” (the mysticism he practices is ancient).

I was there to have my tarot cards read. A friend of mine had seen a card reader in this mysticism shop and recommended him as a particularly intuitive guy. I was immediately curious. At 30, with several years of work experience under my belt (and many, many more ahead), I’m trying to figure out what I want in my career. I’ve started taking time to reflect on this a few times a year, and decided that a tarot card reading would be a good start for my springtime reflection. I don’t personally believe that there is magic in the cards, and certainly wasn’t expecting him to predict my future or anything, but I figured it was guaranteed to be something to reflect on. (read more…)

My Visit to a Life Coach

christinas_world

In 2010, I was feeling stuck at my job and thinking about making a big career change. I was the marketing manager at a small business in the urban forestry field. I loved the people I worked with and enjoyed some of my responsibilities, but not as many as I wanted, and I was concerned that I wasn’t very passionate about urban forestry. But I was having a deeply fulfilling experience doing something else: For two years I’d been volunteering in my free time with an animal welfare non-profit, and I considered pursuing a full-time, paying job in the field. A big change was exciting to contemplate, but it was accompanied by concerns that I would end up utterly consumed by the work, emotionally fatigued, and not earning enough to make a living. I decided that I wanted to see a life coach for guidance.

(read more…)

The Art of Starting a Career Group

La Gerbe, by Henri Matisse

Steph was once described to me by a mutual friend of ours as someone who made you feel that anything was possible. And it’s true—whether it’s undertaking a complicated recipe for chocolate babka, reupholstering chairs, or taking impromptu trips, Steph is someone who has a lot of ideas, and a big, enthusiastic smile for every one of them. It makes you want to join her in whatever it is she’s proposing. After finishing a graduate program last year in urban planning and feeling somewhat dissatisfied with the freelance consulting work she was doing, she came to me with her latest idea: a career group for women. We sat down to plan. (read more…)

Do You Look Forward to Going to Work?

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“I should wake up excited to go to work,” we tell ourselves. For many people, this feeling is so essential to our definition of what it means to have a great job that we don’t even question it. But is how much you look forward to going to work in the morning a barometer for how good your job is? This topic came up at a recent career group session and led to a really interesting discussion.

(read more…)