That One Piece of Paper: Step 6

 

Step five is all about where I would want to live and work. That particular question is one that needs to be answered as a family, and in order to give us more time to do the exercise, I decided to skip ahead to something that was easy to finish.

Step six is all about your place in the world. It’s about why you’re here. It’s everything existential boiled down into a simple ranking exercise. The question posed says, “What goals or purposes would you most enjoy setting your energies to?”

The book makes an interesting point that we all have our own talents, gifts, and skills. However, it’s a different question as to what we want to accomplish with those skills. Do you use your powers for good? Or evil? (Of course, that’s a matter of perspective.) The book says, “[Your Skills] can be made to serve any goal or value you choose.”

What values do you have in your life? What do you want “the broad outcome of your life” to be? “What kind of footprint do you want to leave on this Earth, after your journey is done?”

The author lists nine, which I think is a pretty complete list:

  • Mind. When you are gone, do you want there to be more knowledge, truth, or clarity in the world, because you were here? If so, knowledge, truth, or clarity concerning what, in particular?
  • Body. Do you want there to be more fitness? Less physical suffering (i.e. more feeding of the hungry, more clothing of the poor, etc.)? What particular issue concerning the human body do you want to work on?
  • Eyes and other senses. Do you want there to be more beauty in the world? What kind of beauty?
  • Heart. Do you want there to be more love and compassion in the world?
  • The Will or Conscience. When you are gone, do you want there to be more morality, more justice, more righteousness, more honesty in the world, because you were here?
  • The Human Spirit. Do you want there to be more spirituality in the world, more love for the human family in all its diversity?
  • Entertainment. Do you want to be part of lightening people’s loads, giving perspective, more laughter, and joy? What kind of entertainment?
  • Possessions. Is the often false love of possessions your  major concern?
  • The Earth. Is the planet on which we stand your major concern? When you are gone, do you want there to be more protection of this fragile planet?

The process to sort them is the same that was used in the working conditions exercise — again, since the chart CLEARLY says copyrighted on it, I’m not going to show the chart or explain the process. But this is how my list turned out:

  1. Will/Conscience. I want there to be more justice. More righting of wrongs — there is no reason why someone should be hungry when there is enough.
  2. Heart. I want there to be more love, compassion, and acceptance. I think this really goes hand-in-hand with justice above.
  3. The Earth. I am convinced that climate change has already occurred, is occurring, and will continue to occur. I think that we are definitely past peak oil. We need to learn to adapt, and pull back. This is important.
  4. Mind. I want there to be more truth, knowledge, and clarity. This goes with my analytical side.
  5. Spirit. I want there to be more love for the human family. I care less about people worshiping God, and more about people doing the first two things on the list.
  6. Entertainment. I want there to be laughter and joy.
  7. Eyes/Senses. Beauty is important, sure.
  8. Possessions. I want people to be simpler (it’s one of my style statement words), and content with enough, but I dont’ think it’s a major concern.
  9. Body. While I care for suffering to end, I think the real task is justice. And while I think caring for our bodies is important, it’s not the broad goal of my life.

The instructions say to put your top three, in your own words, in a way that makes sense to you on your flower. Here’s mine.

 

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That One Piece of Paper: Step 4

Step 4 is called, “What Level (Of Responsibility) do you Most enjoy working at, and at what salary?”

The instructions say:

Salary is something you must think out ahead of time, when you’re contemplating your ideal job or career. Level goes hand in hand with salary, of course.

1. The first question here is at what level you would like to work, in your ideal job? Level is a matter of how much responsibility you want, in an organization:

  • Boss or CEO (This may mean you’ll have to form your own business)
  • Manager or someone under the boss who carries out orders
  • The head of a team
  • A member of a team of equal
  • One who works in tandem with one other partner
  • One who works alone, either as an employee or as a consultant to an organization, or as a one-person business

Enter a two- or three-word summary of your answer, on the Level of Responsibility and Salary petal of your Flower Diagram.

This is easy. Having already noted that working by myself or with one other (occasionally) was miserable enough to end up on my working conditions list, the bottom two options are out. My summary on my flower will be: Manager, team leader, and/or a member of a team of equals.

However, salary is harder.

2. The second question here is what salary would you like to be aiming for?

Here you have to think in terms of minimum or maximum. Minimum is what you would need to make, if you were just barely “getting by.” And you need to know this before you go in for a job interview with anyone (or before you form your own business, and need to know how much profit you must make, just to survive).

Maximum could be any astronomical figure you can think of, but it is more useful here to put down the salary you realistically think you could make, with your present competency and experience, were you working for a real, but generous boss. (If this maximum figure is still depressingly low, then put down the salary you would like to be making five years from now.)

Make out a detailed outline of your estimated expenses now, listing what you need monthly […].

I could type you the list from the book, but that seems a little boring to me, and in my opinion, it wasn’t very complete. I like the list I found here after a little Google digging: Free Sample Monthly Budget Template. I wouldn’t download anything from that site, but I like the list.

I pulled out our YNAB4 budget, I asked Tim to pull out his pay stub, and I opened up our electronic bill pay and accounts to figure out how much we’ve been spending in each category, and filled out my spread sheet.

(Apologies with not sharing the numbers, but I am sensitive to potential comparisons.)

 

Next steps:

Multiply the total amount you need each month by 12, to get the yearly figure. Divide the yearly figure by 2000, and you will be reasonably near the minimum hourly wage that you need. […]

Parenthetically, you may want to prepare two different versions of the above budget: one with the expense you’d ideally like to make, and the other a minimum budget, which will give you what you are looking for, here: the floor, below which you simply cannot go.

My income from this career will be the second income in my family. We live comfortably on my partner’s income, and don’t have any interest in having more stuff, or “increasing” our standard of living (though, my knowledge of economics says that is inevitable). Having a small child, we’re going to incur the expense of child care when I work, which is my major concern with salary. And, it would be nice to lower our debt load, and save for emergencies, vacations, and retirement.

I need to work for personal security reasons — Working now will make sure that I have a good retirement income, either from savings or social security. Working is important, in case of the contingency that my husband dies, because entering the job market is difficult, especially after a long break. Also, knowing these numbers is critically important to valuing my own work. I deserve a salary for skilled, educated and qualified workers.

I decided, using math, and considering above, that my contribution salary would need to be approximately $40,000 per year at the low end. Using a little bit of research (on salary.com and cbsalary.com), I found that the upper quartile of people with “Program Assistant” jobs (which is a title I could have) is probably about $75,000.

[Aside: This is so privileged! I’m talking about making four to seven times the poverty level for one person ON TOP of the salary of my partner. Not only is it a privilege to know how much money you’re going to make in a year (i.e. not have to fight for hours), this is before/including benefits like paid vacation and insurance. We so need to put policies in place for the women who cannot make this choice between staying home and working, because working is an economic necessity.]

Finally, the book talks about an optional exercise in which you think about other rewards, besides money, that you hope for — nontangibles that can’t be converted to cash. These include: Adventure, popularity, intellectual stimulations from the other workers there, a chance to be creative, etc.

Adventure is one of my family values, so I’m going to add that to my flower. Intellectual stimulation from the other workers sounds like a nice benefit. And a chance to help others is important to me.
Now my flower looks like this:image

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?