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Recently, dealing with road rage has become a part of my every day commute. I don’t like myself when I get angry at the back of people’s heads or their profiles as they drive past me. “Idiot” is a term I mutter (or yell) much too frequently.
It wasn’t always this way. Bussing around Vancouver, or even meep-meeping around town in a Car2Go during rush hour, never upset me as much as some of this Vancouver Island traffic can. But now, if someone merges lanes too quickly, or doesn’t respond to a green light as fast as I think they should, they get branded with a mental “idiot” stamp. What is this ridiculous notion that I am the only sensible driver out on the road? I know I make mistakes (leaving the blinker on too long or day-dreaming at a red light that suddenly turns green). All the mistakes I make are the same that I judge, though when it’s me, and a driver gets aggravated, I just give them the “relax” hand gesture. (It’s like you’re going in for a slap but never commit)
I spoke about this briefly on my vlog the other day, and after promising myself I wouldn’t get upset, I felt myself raging this morning about a girl behind me on the highway powdering her face in the review mirror! “Woman, watch where you’re going!” My rage was as red as ever.
Most of the posts I’ve read about road rage are about ways of preventing road rage, or diagnosing yourself as a rager. I want to talk about the source of our pissed-offedness. I think it comes down to a power trip.
Really, we give ourselves way too much credit. When you are a teenager you are allowed to read a book that will tell you most of the things you need to know about dealing with a vehicle. Then if you do well, with some supervision, you are allowed to take that power to the roads. And from there we grow. And our driving ego gets bigger and bigger.
But let’s look at this power. We get to sit in a (somewhat) protective metal box, dictate our direction and speed, and decide when we want to come and go. This is a crazy privilege that we just got! I’m 23 and have been driving since I was 14. My dad would take me on the back roads to steer when I was even younger, and a couple years later, would let me make the gear shifts from the passenger seat. And while I can feel incomplete or even unsure of myself in many circumstances, on the road, I am all powerful. Nope.
I am completely power-tripping. We are moving faster, for longer, and with more accuracy. And now with google maps we have even more confidence about getting to where we’re going. I think this attitude amplifies our bubble-rudeness. I say bubble, because we allow ourselves to say rude things because other people will never hear it. If I ever bump into someone on the street, my Canadian-ness cannot help but apologize, to which the bump-ee will graciously say “no problem.”
I am not a mean person, but in that vehicle I can be straight up rude. And if I think I’m powerful because I am in a car, that means everyone else driving is just as powerful—which we all know—cancels out all the power.
My sensitivity to the woman powdering her face was about my safety and the people around the two of us. I wasn’t angry about her sub-par skill in driving, I was pissed that at any moment, she could change someone’s life, and her own, from a split second of ignorance.
Take the power out of the equation and imagine you are every person in every vehicle. Imagine they are your family, your children, or someone you love. My red-face fades and suddenly it is up to my driving to keep everyone safe in their speeding containers.
I won’t waste precious time fuming at someone’s bumper. I will do better this time.
I recently finished reading the book How Children Succeed (highly recommend it) and took a few core points away from it. The point I want to talk about today is that of character, a term used in the book to explain common traits that successful children have.
Traditionally we think of the same metrics of success for a child. IQ, test scores, grades are some of the most common. These are all things we can “measure” easily and can be ranked on both a micro level (within the classroom) and on a macro level (across the country or the world). The problem with this methodology? These may determine success within the academic environment, but do they really matter when it comes to success in life?
The author, Paul Tough, argues no (for the most part). What matters equally, or more, is character, a set of traits that are difficult to measure - but make us who we are. This quote from Paul sums it up nicely:
"Absolutely, cognitive skill and IQ make a big difference; vocabulary matters. But the scientists, the economists and neuroscientists and psychologists who I’ve been studying and writing about are really challenging the idea that IQ, that standardized test scores, that those are the most important things in a child’s success. I think there’s lots of evidence out there now that says that these other strengths, these character strengths, these noncognitive skills, are at least as important in a child’s success and quite possibly more important."
I want to spend a lot more time talking about the psychology & neuroscience in another post, but I want to take this post to dive into three of the most important character “traits” and how they affect people. Since Sokanu is a human development platform focused on career discovery, many of these traits have a direct influence on the way we approach development. The three core traits I want to focus on are grit, self-control and curiosity.
In my opinion, the most important character trait a human can possess. Grit is exactly what it sounds like - a will to succeed. Persistence in the face of adversity. Running over roadblocks.
The biggest negative to achieving high grades and “success” in academia is that you don’t “learn” how to fail. You don’t know what it is like to go around an obstacle. So the first time something doesn’t go your way, you are unsure of what to do. This is why you see so many “smart” students never reach their full potential in the “real world”.
I’m a big fan of this definition in Wikipedia:
Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait, based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or endstate coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment and serves as a driving force in achievement realization. Commonly associated concepts within the field of psychology include “perseverance,” “hardiness,” “resilience,” “ambition,” “need for achievement” and conscientiousness.
The way I like to think of this is as a way to delay gratification or satisfaction. Most people (especially in this generation) crave instant gratification. We want apps to download in seconds, songs to stream instantly (for free of course) and responses to be sent right away. Imagine the shock then when people realize that success takes years of hard work.
This character trait is incredibly important because it goes hand in hand with grit. Understanding that you may have to delay certain things in order to have a long term gain is incredibly difficult for people. It is the difference between short and long term thinking. Would you rather have $200,000 today or double your money, every day for a month, starting at $0.01?
There is a great quote about entrepreneurship that I believe applies to self-control really nicely.
An obvious one, but it is constantly shocking how many people lack this. Having a genuine curiosity about the state of the world opens up your mind in more ways than you know. The neural pathways created or activated during this process is incredible. Reading books, traveling to new places and talking to people with a different perspective all alter the way you think about things.
Children having natural curiosity is something we should try and keep throughout life. Many kids lose this sense once they think it is “uncool” to learn. It should always be your goal to be curious. Wonder about how things are made, cultures are formed and how the world works in general.
Combined with the two traits above, curiosity completes what I believe are the three most important character traits for building successful people. There are many more I’d like to talk about in our next post. The concept of teaching character vs traditional “success” metrics is an extremely important one. We should all be spending more time building these traits in people we know and love - and understanding how early development of this extrapolates over an entire lifetime. It literally affects every aspect of your life. That is why character is so important.
There’s a list on my fridge, with all the best brain foods that I should keep stocked up in my fridge. Blueberries, salmon, avocado, flax, eggs, chocolate (no argument there)- but what are these foods actually doing for my body?
"You’ve done thousands of homework assignments and you’ve sat through hours and hours of lectures. You’ve accumulated various certificates, diplomas and degrees. I guess that means you’re educated, right?"
It’s hardly a secret, but it’s something we often overlook. Eating properly is key not only to our physical but also our mental health. You’ve heard the term “you are what you eat” before, but as cliché as it sounds it holds a lot of truth. Your body can only use what you give it, so make sure to pack your diet full of things that are good for both body and mind.
Don’t skip breakfast! Your brain needs those calories to function properly after a night of sleeping. Don’t forget, how much you eat and how often are important as well. Eating a small, healthy snacks between long periods without food and spreading your meals evenly throughout the day will help ensure your blood sugar doesn’t spike and crash as well. Oh, and don’t forget to stay hydrated. A thirsty brain will have greatly diminished memory and reasoning power.
With that in mind, here are a few brain-healthy meals to try out:
Beets have been found to be a source of natural nitrates which boost the blood flowing to your brain, upping your mental prowess. The walnuts are great too, having plenty of antioxidants and omega-3’s.
Salmon (among other kinds of fish) is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to lowering the risk of dementia and improving cognitive ability. Avocados, besides being delicious, are full of monounsaturated fats, which improve your body’s vascular system.
If only it was that easy, none of us would do it, right?
Even sitting down to write this article was a huge production. Set up the chair on the sunny porch, put on a pot of coffee, pick the perfect album to listen to, oh, tidy up the kitchen a bit. These are all things that can be done later but I insist on getting them finished now. All in the name of putting off the inevitable. As a University student, I am the Master Procrastinator - but in order to get a way with it I have developed 8 useful techniques to getting work done without the panic attacks.
1. Reward with Food and Drink Set yourself a mini goal - when you finish one task go grab a fresh cup of coffee. If your stomach gives its first gurgle of the day, don’t immediately remedy it with food. Wait until you finish whatever you’re working on (within reason) before getting up to grab a snack. Don’t let yourself give into pleasure immediately - the wait makes it more worth it - and maybe you’ll work a bit faster trying to get there!
2. Don’t Spend Time Looking for Something Small Ever get side-tracked on a Wikipedia article because you just HAD to know the year that a certain someone took part in some random event? Yep. Or thesaurus-ing another way to describe the colour black? All those little bits of time end up taking away a huge portion of your day. What seems like a minute or so quickly becomes several minutes as you read up on the article of the day or forget exactly what it was you were looking for. Leave all that stuff for another time, which brings us to the next tip:
3. Create a To-Do List I love lists. It’s a way to see exactly what I have to do (and also is it’s own form of procrastination). Break up your day into all of its parts, from the tiny insignificant tasks (check on wikipedia for date) or big stuff (finish blog post). If you have a lot to do and are feeling completely overwhelmed, add tasks to the list that you’ve already completed. It’s feels motivating to see a few things already ticked off.
4. Stream-of-Consciousness When you have to write something and have no idea where to begin - just begin. Write about not being able to write, don’t stop for typos, don’t even pause to think, just write exactly what your brain is spewing out. Sometimes the act of just writing, whether by hand or keyboard, gets us into the right groove for inspiration. It’s more useful than staring at an empty page.
5. Egg-timer There are some days when you can’t seem to focus on anything. Before it gets to that point in the day where you throw your hands up and surrender, give yourself structure. Set a timer in short intervals - start at just 7 minutes and don’t stop working until that ding goes off. When it does, give yourself a minute to read from you favourite site, or check your email. Then set yourself up for another 7 minutes. Eventually, that few minutes won’t seem like enough time to work.
6. Leave It On A ProductiveNote A professor gave me this advice and it’s been my absolute favourite: don’t stop working when you’ve run out of things to do - leave it on a note so that if you were to come back later, you are full of ideas and inspiration. When you return a few hours later or the next day, you will have renewed energy to go even further.
7. Go! Don’t stop. Now, this rule will contradict the previous one BUT sometimes you have to keep pushing. There is a fine line between coming back when there’s inspiration and ditching a project because you’ve had one great idea. A couple times I’ve been hit with a brilliant idea and then ditch the project until later and go celebrate. No. At the inception of an idea, stick with it until you are in a safe place to come back. You’ll know exactly what’s been done and what still needs to be completed.
8. Don’t count on the last minute I’ve heard this over and over. “All my best ideas come to me last minute.” Well, of course they do! You’ve had no choice but to just do it! Procrastination works because we are forced to sit down and produce. Get yourself producing to the point where you feel comfortable enough to walk away for a time. There will be plenty of time (or not) for the rushed routine later.
You do it. I do it. Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in your procrastination. Just get it done. Good luck!
"Procrastinate now. Don’t put it off"—Ellen DeGeneres
An old proverb states, “The journey is the reward.” Now, it stands to reason that whoever first said that was probably not talking about their morning commute, but we can still stand to learn quite a bit from their philosophy (even when taken literally). Commuting, however you choose to do it, can have a large impact on your day. The lengths you go to get to and from your office can really affect your mood, work habits, and even your health. The key to making commuting easy and maybe even enjoyable lies in knowing your own limitations and adjusting how you move about accordingly.
I’ll use myself as an example. I don’t like to drive in the city. I’m generally a calm person, but for some reason nothing can drive me into a raging frenzy faster than being stuck in crawling rush hour traffic. Avoiding rush hour was one of the main reasons I bought a bike, and it became my favorite way to get around the city as a result. Riding my bike calms me down, gives me exercise, and lets me get out in the fresh air. I even like it when it’s raining. Now, I’m not saying bikes are the perfect solution for everyone, but I knew I didn’t like driving and saw it as a great alternative. It worked great for me.
Other people might prefer transit. A friend of mine actually enjoys taking the train because, as he describes, what would otherwise be wasted time behind the wheel (time where he’s solely concentrated on driving) he can now spend reading, talking, or simply thinking about other things. He can be productive or simply relax or both. It also saved him a lot of cash.
If you do have to drive—or hey, maybe you like driving—know what will minimize the stress of commuting. Nobody likes rush hour, so try to get to work early and take off a bit early if you can, in order to beat the rush. Alternatively, organize a carpool where you trade off driver’s responsibilities. At the very least you can take the carpool lane.
Spending a little time examining how you get to work can save you a lot of stress and have a really positive impact on your mood and your health. If you’ve been simply blocking your commute out of your mind so as not to deal with it, it might be worth your while to give it a second look.
From the CEO: Why is leaving a "wrong" career so hard?
Our content manager, Renee, was talking to one of her friends over the weekend whom is dissatisfied with his career. He is currently an engineer with stable employment, but finds it dull and can see himself being stuck in that job or career for years. The amazing part is that he knows that he would prefer to be working in plumbing or drafting, but feels he should wait before switching over. At the core of this is a fear of leaving what is “safe” and potentially switching into something else.
I want to take this blog post to talk about the reasons why we stay in careers that we aren’t passionate about, and how we can try and use frameworks to help us make decisions when it comes to making the switch. By pulling from other disciplines, hopefully I can present a unique way of looking at how to decide whether switching careers or not is the right thing to do.
The Obvious Reasons
There are many reasons why someone wouldn’t want to transition out of a pre-existing career. Most of it is forced by circumstance. A steady paycheque that is required to pay for a mortgage, car and a family is an impossible thing to give up. This is a topic for a much longer blog post, so I’ll leave it here.
Another reason that people don’t make the leap is - what do they make the leap to? Sokanu was built to help people find their perfect career. This is not limited to people without a career, in fact most people are unhappy in their current career. So just because you are unhappy with your current spot doesn’t mean you have a direction on where you want to go. This is a major issue.
However! In the example above our engineer knows that he doesn’t like what he is currently in, he knows what he wants to go into, and he has few responsibilities. So why isn’t he making the leap?
What’s Holding Us Back - Psychology
The human brain is an amazing thing, but it can also play tricks on us. Rationally, looking at the situation from above, we can form a basic chart.
We already know that we would be much happier in the career plumber than engineer, as our perceived happiness level shows. So why don’t we make the immediate switch? Why is our brain saying that “we should wait?” It’s because the chart is incomplete. We are missing the “irrational” and economic factors that weigh into this decision. Let’s add those to the chart and look at it again.
I have added two major factors that weigh into the decision here:
Salary (both current realized salaries and expected salaries at the end of the career lifecycle)
How “Should” We Approach The Problem?
The first thing we should do is take the various aspects from above and order relative to importance. What is most important to you in life? For me - the order goes something like this:
The Unknown “Gap”
You need to decide what is most important in life. I place time at the top because it is the one thing that we are not in control of. Everything else is manageable by us. Money can always be gained, time can not.
There is something else we have not considered. It is a term called Opportunity Cost, and it is a simple calculation that takes into account the sacrifice made for a second or other choice. In our case, opportunity cost dictates whether or not we should make this decision. Let’s take a look at our chart again.
Our Opportunity Cost is a combination of the following (not limited to):
Each time we decide to make the leap, we need to factor in these points. By switching to career A from B, do I:
have the necessary skills?
have the time to dedicate towards this? am I prepared for the length of the process?
understand that I will not be making a salary during this period?
have the mental state required to deal with the ups and downs of career changing?
have the training & education required for the new career? If not - how long will it take me to acquire this? (goes back into time)
Notice on the graph that the more time that passes (aka the older you get) the harder it becomes to make this switch? Why? The cost of switching becomes higher. It takes more time, costs more money, etc… We may think that by waiting we are lessening our risk, but this is in fact not true.
The problem is quite simple, yet hard to solve. When people think about switching careers, their order of importance goes something like this:
The “Unknown” Gap
We don’t think about happiness at all because it is hard to measure. We know we aren’t happy in our current career - yet we aren’t positive what the expected happiness in the new career will be. What scares us most is the short term, the stress & discomfort that this “unknown” gap will cause us. “What if I can’t find a job? What’s the best way to update my resume? Where do I look for this job?”
All of those thoughts are short-term. We can solve them in a matter of weeks, not years or decades. Our happiness, however, is going to decrease over time by staying in our current career. But because that is a long term thing, we rarely take it into account.
Put another way - this short term gap triggers our bad psychological tendencies. It makes us emotional rather than rational. Our brain goes through all of the hardship this short term decision will cause, instead of the long term benefits. Do not let it do this to you. Think about the short term as just a step in a long term goal.
Most of these points only apply if you know what your next career should be, and that it will increase your happiness. I will write another post that talks about what to do if that career is not (yet) known.
Remove emotion from the decision. Look at your decision like a graph, plotted out over time
Place emphasis on long term over short term. Don’t let short term bias dictate your major life decisions
Calculate the opportunity cost of staying in your current career vs. moving to the new
Realize the longer you wait, the harder it gets. The cost increases at a rate.
Time & happiness are your most important metrics. Optimize for these first, and everything else second.
It’s your life! Do what is right for you, in your situation, based on the knowledge you have. Try and apply a framework to these decisions. If nothing else, it will help you remove the guesswork from the process.
Internships are a (sometimes unfortunate) prerequisite to breaking into many established fields in today’s job market. They can be tough; hard work, unappreciative bosses, and no money. Internships can be very useful though, if you use them properly and aren’t afraid to stand up for yourself in certain circumstances.
The first thing to remember is that internships are meant to be mutually beneficial. That is, actually benefiting you and your employer. Too often you hear stories about interns being sent to get coffee or pick up the dry-cleaning, and this, frankly, should never be the case. Interns are not free labour. Even if you’re not getting paid in dollars you should be getting compensated for your time. You need experience, training, contacts, and support from your employers, and you shouldn’t settle for less. This has even become a legal issue in the United States, and hopefully the situation is improving, but that is a worst-case scenario. If you feel like you’re not doing enough relevant work, say so, and most employers will be receptive. Be respectful but firm in insisting you should be getting relevant experience in lieu of payment. You deserve it.
The second thing to keep in mind is that old adage “you get out what you put in.” In my own experience, I learned a great deal during my internship because I showed genuine interest in things that were going on, even in other departments. As a result I became friendly with people working in many fields and gained real, valuable experience and knowledge because of this. Now, that’s not to say you need to be obsessively keen—that’s no fun for anyone—but a healthy interest in what’s around you and a good work ethic really can make the difference.
Lastly, know your limits and stick to them. Don’t stretch yourself too thin if you know you can’t afford a full time position that doesn’t pay well. Find a sponsored internship though your school or government (they exist, and in higher frequency than you might think) or find a part-time position that you can supplement with something else a few shifts a week. Realize that you’re not working for the money and don’t consent to working extremely long hours or in stressful conditions if you don’t think it’s worth your time. Treat yourself with respect, and ask that your employer do so as well.
Stick to your principals and enter into an internship with an eager attitude and an open mind. If you do that they can be very useful (and certainly enjoyable) for both you and the people you work for.
Jeremy lives in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia with his wife and dog. He spends a lot of time reading, writing, and riding his bicycle, though usually not at the same time. His most recent passion is training his pup in agility, and while she may not be a champion (yet) they have a lot of fun together.
My brother once told me, “you are the most tired-looking person in the morning I have ever seen.” I do believe he told me this the moment I walked downstairs after waking up. His comment was greeted with a glare possibly more intense than the yellow blaze of morning sunlight itself.
I used to be the person that would hit the snooze multiple times to trick myself into thinking I was getting extra sleep, but really I was losing quality sleeping time. I would begrudgingly drag myself away from my warm sheets to the chilled tiles of the bathroom floor. If the morning felt particularly groggy, I preferred to brush my teeth while resting on the edge of the bathtub. Every single morning I would promise myself, “Tonight, I go to sleep early” only to look at the clock later that night and realize that 11:58pm was not the time my earlier-self had in mind.
But I also find that I am most productive earlier in the day. Maybe it’s the quiet, the energy of everybody else heading off to work, or the calm atmosphere of knowing that there is still an entire day to work on something. Steve Pavlina’s blog post on How to Wake Up Feeling Totally Alert is about getting in the habit of wanting to get up early. It goes into great detail about the steps to feeling alert the moment you open your eyes in the morning. These are some rules that I follow so that I wake up (most mornings) alert.
1. Don’t eat heavy foods before bed.
A terrible habit of mine is night eating. There’s always a point after dinner when I crave a little something. It takes a lot of energy for your body to digest food, which uses up energy. If you eat food that exhausts your body during the night, it’s no surprise that you will wake up exhausted. Water can usually ward off the late-night hunger pains, you just have to be patient enough to let it work. If you’re still hungry vegetables are the ideal pre-bed snack.
2. Sleep when you’re tired
This means don’t bother going to bed if you’re still wide-awake. If you find yourself nodding off at a certain time–don’t fight it–just go to bed. Your body will eventually regulate itself with a regular morning wake-up time.
3. No snoozing. Nope, not even once.
This is a difficult one. My brain always seems to convince me that hitting that button and sleeping for a little bit longer is the best idea it’s ever come up with. Another Pavlina blog here if you need some more convincing.
4. Look forward to the morning
Find something to be excited about! I’ve created a challenge for myself that gets me out of bed. I’ve started a 30-day vlogging challenge where I get out of bed at 6am every morning and film it. Today is day 25.
5. Move that body
It is way more satisfying going to bed after some physical activity. Right now I’m all about Moksha hot yoga. It keeps me alert in the day and then gets me sleepy at night. I’ve noticed that if I do a lot of sitting in a day I will be very tired. I may even have a catnap to fight it. But that means I’m wide awake around bedtime which conflicts with rule #2. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Even a quick walk after dinner or during a break at work would give your body the energy it needs.
Find out what time of day works for you! There is a sweet spot where you feel the most active and ready to get work done. Experiment, see what works best, then stick with it! It will all pay off in the end.
A big part of maximizing your education is learning to keep your motivation levels high, even when all you feel like doing is watching TV or YouTube videos.
Here are six ways to stay motivated:
Work in 30-minute blocks.
For most students, 30 minutes of intense focus is a suitable amount of time before they should take a short break. On days when you feel particularly unmotivated, you can always tell yourself that you’re only 30 minutes away from your next break.
On a rough day, set your timer for five minutes.
On days when even 30 minutes seems too long, set a timer for five minutes and tell yourself that you can choose to take a break when those five minutes are up. Chances are that you’ll decide to continue working after those initial five minutes.
Do your hardest task first.
Once you finish this task, you’ll feel a surge of motivation. Don’t give in to the temptation of starting on the easiest task first.
Find out when you work best.
You probably work better during a specific time of day. For two weeks, keep a detailed log of how productive you are at different times of the day. What task were you working on? Were you able to focus well? What were your energy levels like? Once you determine when you work best, you can schedule the tasks that require more creative and analytical thinking for those times. On the other hand, when your energy levels are lower, you can do more routine tasks like completing your assigned readings.
Smile when you wake up.
There’s a field of psychology called proprioceptive psychology, where scientists have discovered that you can alter your behavior to alter your emotional state. For example, you don’t just smile because you’re happy; you can make yourself happier by intentionally smiling. So smile when you wake up—you’ll naturally begin to think about all the reasons you have to smile, and you’ll feel more motivated to start the day.
Set daily goals.
Setting daily goals is a way for you to keep track of your progress. I encourage you to set these daily goals at the end of the previous day, e.g. On Tuesday night, set your goals for Wednesday. Review your goals at the end of each day, and don’t forget to celebrate—even if it’s in a small way—your successes!
I’m guessing that what you want most is to have a fantastic semester.
I’m guessing that what you want now is to go on Facebook and Twitter.
Start using these six techniques today, and don’t let what you want now prevent you from getting what you want most.
These are the questions that came to mind as soon as I read the title of this article. When we’re given a certain amount of hours every day, it’s very easy for us to get distracted, whether work related or not. Given a little less time, there is that added pressure that really pushes us to get a move on. Any procrastinators out there know what I’m talking about? I know you’re reading this. Maybe you’re thinking you’ll read this article later. Do it now. Be More Productive.
Come back tomorrow to see where all that wasted time goes!
Now what? You’ve graduated from University and this is your first fall without heading back to campus. Without finding a job right out of the gate it can be hard stay excited about all the possibilites. A recent UBC graduate speaks about his post-graduation experience.
A few years ago I graduated from university with an undergraduate arts degree in English literature. Even as I type this I can hear the collective consciousness of anyone reading this yelling out “oh yippee, another one.”
I take a lot of flak for my degree. It seems every time I mention my chosen major someone feels the need to comment how impractical it is to study lit and that I should have gone into engineering, commerce, or (my favorite) dentistry. Pretty much every arts major gets this to some degree, and sometimes it can be hard to defend; at the end of the day these naysayers make some valid arguments. I’ll be the first to admit that studying English hasn’t landed me a six-figure salary, but you know what? I still greatly value my degree, and here’s why.
I believe learning has a higher purpose than just getting you employed. Perhaps in previous generations a university degree was just a right of passage before going into the workplace, but as anyone will be quick to tell you, getting a degree these days does not guarantee you a job. Instead of focusing on career opportunities, you need to change your end goals in order to get the most out of your experience.
The value of education lies in learning about what you love, discovering what interests you, and culturing a healthy curiosity that will stay with you for the rest of your life. I genuinely loved what I studied and believe it has made me a more interesting and well-rounded person. Through literature I’ve learned about culture, history, psychology, and philosophy, not to mention how to communicate and relate in ways I didn’t know before. This knowledge has set me apart from my peers in other fields on more than one occasion. True, I don’t have a corner office, but if that were important to me I probably should have considered commerce. I studied what I loved, and if I had the chance to go back and do it all again I probably would.
“To find a career to which you are adapted by nature, and then to work hard at it, is about as near to a formula for success and happiness as the world provides. One of the fortunate aspects of this formula is that, granted the right career has been found, the hard work takes care of itself. Then hard work is not hard work at all.”—Mark Sullivan”—
From the CEO:The Difference Between a Job Site and a Career Platform
I get asked all the time whether we are a “job site” whenever I mention what we do. Not only is it wrong, the misconception is fair. Many people don’t see a difference. For example - Forbes just released a list of The Top 75 Websites For Your Career. The list is a composition of job posting boards and internship sites, which are also posting boards. There are very few (if any) career sites in there. I’m going to talk about how we see the difference.
First, a quote to begin:
Most people approach their work in one of three ways: as a job, a career, or a calling.
If you see your work as a job, you do it only for the money, you look at the clock frequently while dreaming about the weekend ahead, and you probably pursue hobbies, which satisfy your effectance needs more thoroughly than does your work.
If you see your work as a career, you have larger goals of advancement, promotion, and prestige.
If you see your work as a calling, however, you find your work intrinsically fulfilling [since] you are not doing it to achieve something else. You see your work as contributing to the greater good or as playing a role in some larger enterprise the worth of which seems obvious to you. You have frequent experiences of flow during the work day, and you neither look forward to “quitting time” nor feel the desire to shout, “Thank God it’s Friday!” You would continue to work, perhaps even without pay, if you suddenly became very wealthy.
Jonathan Haidt - The Happiness Hypothesis
The difference is not as simple as laid out above, but I like the quotation a lot.
A Job Site
A job site is exactly what it sounds like. Do you notice a big “search for a job” box on the homepage? Is there an option to “upload your resume?” Chances are you are on a job site. There are oodles of them - from Monster to CareerBuilder to TheLadders and down to Craigslist. LinkedIn is also a job site but does some really interesting things in the way of professional networking. Job sites do not solve any problems for the user - they are a marketplace. They have a listing of jobs (from employers) and they have a list of resumes (from users). Their job is to match these two up. Most job sites are not very good at this, but innovation is very slow in this space.
A job title is something specific, like “Managing Director of XYZ Corp” or “Lead Cultivator of Bananas at ABC Farms.” They have a list of requirements and give a description of the job.
Everything I’ve listed above, Sokanu does not do. Why? Well - it doesn’t solve our problem. What is our problem? That most people have no idea what they are meant to do. What is the point of a job site if you don’t even know if you are on the right track? What track? A job site only makes sense if you know that attaining a job is a step along a specific path. There are 3 million job postings that exist, unfilled. There are WAY more people then that who don’t know what their perfect career is - leading to a mismatch of skills.
Job sites do not solve this problem.
A Career Platform
A career title is something much higher level, like “Carpenter” or “Accountant”. A career title has a multitude of job titles that fit underneath it.
The reason we are unfamiliar with career platforms is because there are hardly any. The reason? They are really, really hard to build “correctly”. They need to customize to each person’s unique situation, and help guide them. They need to begin with the end goal in mind - and ask the question, “where do you want to go?” They should facilitate the process of discovery and trial and error. Users should be able to “sample” a multitude of careers and see what they like and don’t like. Only once they have narrowed down some choices can they see the path in front of them.
The career platform should also help the person with their path. Part of the path may be going to school. A step may be meeting a specific person. Another one yet may be finding a job within that career. Notice that a job is not the be all end all. It is merely a step (albeit an important one) in your path. Most people approach this with the opposite attitude. They start out with applying for jobs that they have no passion for and with no context of how it fits into their path in life.
Finding your calling, going back to the quotation above, is the ultimate goal. We try and take a direct approach at combining your calling with a career that is optimized for you. We see finding a job as only a step along a path to finding your calling. That is why we would never call ourselves a job site.
For many people, finding a job is the best (or only) option for creating a living for a family - we are after something different. Find a career that’s right for you, work passionately, live happily.