March 9, 2018 By Claire Cooper
August 17, 2017
3 Tips for the Professional Soul Searcher
This summer, we had the pleasure of having one of LogMeIn’s summer interns work with us on the join.me marketing team. Lauren DiLoreto is entering her Senior year at Vanderbilt studying communications and corporate strategy. Lauren writes about her experience here, what she learned about the modern workforce, and how it led her to answer some soul-searching questions.
Lauren: During my time here at LogMeIn, I was often asked about my professional goals in even the most casual, conversational settings. Being consistently asked the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” lead me to wonder, does anyone really know? It’s an innocuous question for kids, usually prompting a cute or ridiculous response. For adults, however, being asked to choose our calling can conjure up all kinds of stress and doubt, whether you’re just starting out in a new career or you’re already a well-established professional. My experience here at LogMeIn taught me a lot about the modern workforce and that the 9-5 way of work just isn’t status quo anymore. So take a little life advice from an intern about how to think about your professional goals – let’s get meta.
Tip 1: The world is not your oyster
Being told the world is our oyster may actually do us more harm than good. In fact, having a too wide an array of options may make the process of choosing a career too overwhelming and the choice we make less satisfactory.
For example, shoppers faced with too many choices are far less likely to make a choice, buy, and feel satisfied with their buying decision. According to a famous psychological study called The Jam Experiment, grocery shoppers were 10 times more likely to buy a flavor of jam when presented with six options to try than when they were presented with 24. Although the table with 24 flavors was more enticing to shoppers, most became too overwhelmed and dropped out before they could make a selection.
It is enticing to set boundless options out on the table, yet it may result in something called “choice paralysis,” where it feels easier NOT to choose. This type of choice avoidance allows us to comfortably live in a world of boundless options, which is both unrealistic and unproductive.
Instead, create a more narrow list of options for yourself. By limiting choices, you’ll cut out excess time agonizing over all the possibilities and instead take action. You’ll also likely end up far more satisfied with your choice.
Tip 2: Adapt and pivot
Still afraid to commit to a path and go full speed ahead? Or maybe you’ve chosen and committed years ago and you’re facing buyer’s remorse. There’s good news for both. You can ALWAYS pivot.
In fact, the economic world is changing so fast and teeming with unpredictability that the people who do pivot with the needs of the market are the ones who will thrive. According to Fast Company Magazine, the number 1 most important trait for thriving in the 21st century is adaptability.
Although it’s possible to make a last-minute 180 degree turn in your career, its far easier to make tiny, continuous pivots. To borrow the analogy from psychologist, Meg Jay, think of an airplane leaving Westward from New York City. A slight change in course could be the difference between landing in Seattle and San Diego.
In other words, after making the initial decision to head towards a target, you still have the autonomy to redirect towards a new target using the power of tiny pivots.
Tip 3: Stay connected
Self-awareness is the precursor to taking action in your career, whether its setting out to choose something new or adapting to changing environments. Take some time to connect with your inner goals, your peers, and your mentors. Staying in touch with your own aspirations, however, can be difficult to do without inspiration and feedback from your associates and mentor figures.
Keeping in sync with your peers is an excellent source of career exploration as well as network growth. Stay connected with old friends and associates with frequent meetings to keep your options open yet refined.
Meeting with a mentor is also hugely helpful for gaining some foresight into where we’d like to end up. Frequently meeting with mentors can serve as an inspiration and a guidance for how and when to pivot in our careers.
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