That One Piece of Paper: Step 2

 

Step 2 for creating That One Piece of Paper is called “What are your preferred People-Environments that you are most like to work with, or serve and help?” The basic idea is to figure out what kind of people you want to be surrounded by.

What Color is Your Parachute? suggests a scientific categorization and quiz developed by Dr. John L. Holland to describe six different people-environments. These environments are:

Realistic: People who have an athletic or mechanical ability, prefer to work with machines, objects, tools, plants or animals and prefer to be outdoors.
Investigative: People who like to observe, learn, investigate, analyze, evaluate, or solve problems.
Artistic: People who have artistic, innovative, or intuitional abilities and like to work in unstructured settings, using their imagination and creativity.
Social: People who like to work with people — to inform, enlighten, help, train, develop or cure them, or are skilled with words.
Enterprising: People who like to work with people — influencing, persuading, or performing or leading or managing for organizational goals or economic gain.
Conventional: People who like to work with data, have clerical or numerical ability, carrying things out in detail, or following through on others’ instructions.

The author of What Color is Your Parachute put together an exercise that helps people decide what group of people they would like to be with. The book reads:

Below is an aerial view of a room in which a party is taking place. At this party, people with the same or similar interest have (for some reason) all gathered in the same corner of the room.

I redrew it here:

1) Which corner of the room would you instinctively be drawn to, as the group of people you would most enjoy being with for the longest time? (Leave aside any question of shyness, or whether you would have to talk to them.) Write down the letter for that corner.
2) After fifteen minutes, everyone in the corner you have chosen leaves for another party crosstown, except you. Of the groups that still remain now, which corner or group would you be drawn to the most, as the people you would most enjoy being with for the longest time? Write down the letter for that corner.
3) After fifteen minutes, this group too leaves for another party, except you. Of the corners and groups which remain now, which one would you most enjoy being with for the longest time? Write down the letter for that corner.
The three letters you just chose, in the three steps, are called your “Holland Code.”

I have a tendency to cheat on activities like these, and put how I would LIKE to be instead of how I actually am. So, I skipped to using what the internet has to offer based on the suggestions in the book. I took two tests. One was at http://www.self-directed-search.com/, which cost $4.95 and one was at http://careerkey.org/asp/your_personality/take_test.asp, which cost $9.95.

My results for Self-Directed Search looked like this:
R = 10, I = 25, A = 21, S = 37, E = 26, C = 26

My results for the Career Key test looked like this:
Artistic = 9
Conventional = 6
Enterprising = 3
Investigative = 5
Realistic = 5
Social = 16

It was clear, by far and away, that my first letter is “S” for social. But after that, all the scores bunch up. In fact, one of the explanation of scores for SDS said that a difference of less than 8 was negligible. (An aside: Barbara Sher says that her Scanners tend to have high scores in most categories on most aptitude tests. Confirmation bias?)

So I thought about it. And I ended up deciding that at the party, I would definitely like to hang out with the Social crowd. I like helping people. And then, I decided that I would probably like to hang out with the Investigative crowd. I like learning new things and solving problems. And finally, to be honest, I probably would like to hang out with the conventional crowd. I like things that are clear cut and having specific instructions. I put that Artistic is probably a close fourth, considering that one was one I WANTED to put in, perhaps as the second one, and that I do think of myself as a creative.

Now my party looked like this:

Which resulted in writing the following “temporary statement” on my flower: I would like a job or career best if I were surrounded by people who like to work with people and help them (S), like to investigate and analyze things (I), and who work with data and details and instructions (C). (And sometimes people who use imagination and creativity (A).)

Now my flower, my “One Piece of Paper” looks like this:

(I haven’t picked out my reward yet. But I will soon! I’m thinking a shirt for more casual wear.)

 

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That One Piece of Paper: The Goal

 

So, you might be aware that I am about half way through my Masters in Public Policy. At the end of these two years of school, I’d like to get a job. To get a job, I will have to prepare. I know from finding my internship this past winter that it will take work to know myself well enough to sell myself well enough to land a job that will fit with me, and allow me to do the work that I want to do in the world.

Early this summer, I pulled a severe brown-nose move and contacted the Career Development Office at the Gerald R. Ford School of the University of Michigan and asked them what might be good reading to prepare for the job hunt ahead. I told them I was tempted by What Color is Your Parachute? 2012 by Richard N. Bolles, and they confirmed that it’s been a best seller since 1972 for a reason.

Most of the book read as common sense, but it did clarify some things. People in the Career office kept talking about “informational interviews” and I had no idea why someone would to want to talk to someone cold turkey about their job. Apparently, it’s something that smart job hunters do to track down the job that is perfect for them.

Chapter 13 of the book is all about the self-inventory that will help you find your dream job. There are several steps.

Step 0: Who are you?
Step 1: Favorite Special Knowledges
Step 2: Preferred People-Environments
Step 3: Preferred Working Conditions
Step 4: Desired Responsibility (and Salary)
Step 5: Preferred Geographical factors
Step 6: With these Goals and Purposes (and Values) in mind
Step 7: Your favorite transferable skills, in order of their priority for you

Richard N. Bolles calls this exercise That One Piece of Paper — because you take all this information and put it in one place, in an organized way, that allows you to see a bigger picture. I’m looking forward to what it says.

Looking at SMARTER goal setting:

Specific Goal: I want my “That One Piece of Paper”

Measurable:  This is an easy goal to make measurable — the steps are already defined for me, with each exercise its own defined mini goal!

Anticipate Success: What are the benefits of achieving this goal? The benefit of having my One Piece of Paper is, potentially, “hope, direction, and a lens to satisfaction,” to quote a text box in the book. The benefit will be in knowing what I’m looking for in a job, instead of reading every job description that I come across and going, “Eh, I COULD do this, but do I want to do this?” It will give me something to network around, because I’ll able to tell my network what kind of work I’m looking for. It will give me something to bring into interviews and ask questions of my interviewers, so that I’ll get to learn more about their company and if it’s a good fit for ME, as they find out if I’m a good fit for their company. Knowing, systematically, what I’m looking for in a job is really important to the process, and this seems like a great starting point for that.

Record your ideas and challenges: I’m going to do these exercises with as much room as possible. The Kindle Edition of the book provides links to download PDFs, but so far those PDFs seem to be small and cramped and hard to write in. I think I’m going to do all of this on printer paper, so it’s easy to lay everything out (I could do it in my moleskine, but then I wouldn’t have the flexibility of seeing everything at once). It’s going to be difficult to find the time — my work day stretches from 8 am until 6:15pm, and  I have a half hour break for lunch. But, I do also take about a half hour break to pump, and that time is my own. I can use that. When I get home, I usually end up putting the baby to sleep and not getting much time to myself before I sleep — but I’ll make this a priority. It’s important that it gets done to reduce stress later.

Track your progress: The official start date for the goal (though parts of the project are started and scattered) is today, July 19, 2012. I’d like to get this done before school starts on September 4, 2012. That’s about 6 weeks, and 47 days. Forty-seven days divided by 8 tasks is almost 6 days per task. So, about once a week I will need to have completed the next step. So, the next due date is July 25 — I’ll need to be done with step 0. Which should be easy because step 0 is almost complete.

Explain your goal to others: I realized recently that my blog is the perfect thing to keep my accountable. Sarah at Feeding the Soil talks about her goals with her community on her blog, and I am always so inspired by it. I’m looking forward to doing the same with you, my Empathizers. I will blog about my progress on this project. I want you guys to see me do this soul-searching work. (You are not alone in not knowing what you want out of life!)

Reward yourself along the way: I’m not sure what my big reward at the end of the project will be, but I think that my little rewards for completing each step will be buying a piece of clothing for my wardrobe. I usually deny myself that, and this will give me permission. Perhaps I’ll finally buy server space to host Practicing Empathy as a stand alone website?

The too long; don’t read version of the above is this: I’m going to do the self-reflection activities in What Color is Your Parachute to prepare for my job search this year. I want to be done by Labor Day, and I’m going to be blogging about my progress. I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you, and all the rewards along the way (including telling you about how this helps me in my job search later).

How have you figured out what you want to do with your life?