Career Hack: Mind Map Your Way Into a New Career
Two years ago, when I started this blog, I was going through a career crisis of my own. I had marched down one path in finance for five years only to find that I no longer wanted any part of it. It was terrifying. I remember thinking, “Had I already gone too far? How could I switch directions now? And if I do, which direction do I choose?” I realized then that I had to escape from the tunnel vision that had constrained my thinking to this point. I had to think about my career in a new way.
One tool that helped me find the career path I’m on today was a concept called Mind Mapping. Mind Mapping, as made popular by Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, is a free-from word association chart that helps you get “unstuck” and generate new career ideas. Below is an example of a completed career mind map from Business Insider.
Mind maps help you create new career ideas by finding ways to connect ideas in your life that didn’t seem to relate before. In the example below, this person may want to consider a new career as a grade school english teacher! For step by step directions on how to create your own mind map check out this article and this video. I also incorporate this exercise into my coaching practice. If you want one-on-one career coaching to help get you “unstuck” drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Life Hack: The Concept of Kaizen
At times over the last year it’s felt like I’ve been moving sideways or even backwards in my career. I’ve struggled in my first year in tech sales. The growth of this blog has slowed. My side coaching business is still in its infancy. When I look back and try to think of what exactly I’ve accomplished I can’t help but feel disappointed. As I peer up at the mountain that I need to climb it’s easy to get discouraged and lose hope.
But a concept I learned earlier this year from colleague, Gayathri Nagrajan, called “Kaizen” has helped me to break my career goals down into small incremental steps that I can control rather than getting discouraged by past failures or future challenges. The Japanese word Kaizen literally translates to “change for good” but can also be thought of as “continual improvement.” Kaizen is a philosophy that has been used by large Japanese organizations such as Toyota and individuals who are looking to improve themselves.
I wake up now trying to think about how I can implement Kaizen into my daily life. What is one manageable thing I can do today that will improve my sales career, this blog, or my coaching business? I break it down into small action steps that I can look back on at the end of each day and gauge my progress. This continual improvement, or Kaizen, gives me reassurance that I am moving up the mountain… even if it is one small step at a time.
Consider This: No One Smiles on the Subway
Everyday to get to work I ride the 4/5 train from Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn to Bowling Green in lower Manhattan. It takes about 30 minutes and (by New York standards) is a pretty easy commute. During the first few months I did this commute I would shuffle onto the crowded subway train and immerse myself in a book or my phone. After four quick stops I’d lift my head up and realize I was at my office and jump off… my day would begin.
But a week ago I decided to start something different on the commute. No phone. No book. I wanted to actually be in the subway. I wanted to experience it and see what was happening around me. And what did I see?Zombies. Everyone around me was lost in their own world. They, like I had been doing, immersed themselves in phones, tablets and Kindles that took them anywhere but here. People wore blank and tired expressions. As I scanned the subway one time through, not one person smiled.
How sad, I thought, that we all could be in this magical city of New York, commuting at high speed on an underground train and not one person was there to appreciate it. Not one person was actually living the experience. The subway experience had become mundane. It had become commonplace to all of us as so many things in life.
I realized since this subway trip that our inability to appreciate life does not stop on the subway. It carries over to eating food, exercising and even talking with friends. Our mind is always pulling us in different directions and urging us to think about what’s next instead of what’s now. When you eat an apple are you truly appreciating the succulent fruit? When you go for a run, are you there in the park that surrounds you? When your friend is telling you their deepest secret are you listening or drifting?
I challenge you to be one with the world that surrounds you. Resist the temptation to check your phone and emails. Take out your headphones and be where you are. You’ll see your world in a glorious way that didn’t exist for you before.
Quote of the Week:
“It is very easy to conform to what your society or your parents and teachers tell you. That is a safe and easy way of existing; but that is not living… To live is to find out for yourself what is true.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti