Invisible Scripts: Do You Know What You Think You Know?

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An invisible script is an assumption that is so baked in to how you view the world and your choices that you don’t even question it. It often involves an inner voice telling you what you should do, need to do, or can’t do.

Here are some common invisible scripts we can think of off the top of our heads:

  • I need to go to grad school to be successful
  • Traveling is the best way to spend free time/money
  • If I follow my passion, I’ll find a job I love (or, I need to follow my passion in my career)
  • I can’t raise kids while living in a city
  • I’ll be happy once I make more money
  • Spending a lot of money on gifts demonstrates much I care
  • After getting married, I need to buy a house
  • Couples who are truly compatible never have bad fights
  • It’s important to be liked
  • The harder something is to attain, the more important it is
  • My job has to be completely sustaining to me
  • Being busy all the time means you are important and valued

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My Mother’s Other Career

My mom with her horse, Isis.

My mom is an artist, and for most of her career was an art teacher. First she taught in after-school programs and a children’s museum, then in a retirement facility, and finally, in public high schools in New York City.

But she had another job this whole time as well, as a rescuer of various animals, usually off the street and often on our own block. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that this was unpaid. My mom doesn’t just see a homeless animal, feel bad, and move on. She scoops it up, feeds and cares for it, and finds it a new home. And she’s done it despite a very small apartment, two kids, a reluctant husband, and limited funds. I’ve always shared a passion for animal welfare with my mom, and have also done years of volunteer work in that field. I didn’t think about it much growing up, but as an adult I can she that she has been the inspiration for all of it. I wanted to know more about her career as a rescuer, the role animals had played in her life, and how she managed this incredibly meaningful yet taxing commitment. Here is what she had to say.

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I’m Sorry, Tim Ferriss

Moral dubiousness of the 4-hr Work Week

I owe Tim Ferriss an apology.

When “The 4 Hour Work Week” came out in 2007, I hated it without reading it. A high school friend (we’ll call him Don) read it and was inspired to follow Ferriss’ advice to the letter. Don slowly built up a business selling weight loss pills online– he was simply the middleman, automating the manufacturing and delivery. It took him a couple years to get the business to a profitable point, at which point he quit his job to run this business with minimal effort from a laptop while traveling the world. (Exactly what the book suggests.)

I was horrified. I watched Don set up a scam-y business (who thinks these diet pills work?) and assumed that “The 4-hour Work Week” had nothing good to recommend it. Recently though, I’ve been thinking about how it would be nice to have more free time, and the idea of a 4-hour work week (or even just a shorter work week) sounded more and more appealing. So I pulled the book out of the library to if there were any nuggets of wisdom there.

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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…)