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Hey Laura- It’s crazy that when you cannot see any opportunities all you want is ANYTHING to do. Once you have started to understand all of your opportunities suddenly there is TOO MUCH to do. That balance is one of the most important things to keep in mind. When I am trying to figure out which projects to take on I look holistically at each opportunity. 1. Do I care about it?When it comes down to pulling a week of 20 hour days I want to still be doing the best work I can. Does this project matter in some larger way that I can identify with. 2. Who are the people I will be working with? Sometimes amazing people are worth working with no matter what the project is. On the other hand, an incredible opportunity with bad people is not actually that incredible. 3. What are the short term benefits?Money, prestige, time, etc.4. What are the long term benefits?Contacts, portfolio, experience, etc.Another thing I have been thinking about a lot recently is gaining concrete skills. So before starting a new project I ask myself, what will I learn that I don’t already know how to do. It is great to sharpen skills you already have, but the challenge of confronting something new is truly awesome. What do you do?
Thanks! Your list of considerations is very helpful. I am a college student, so I have a lot of time to work on projects that are meaningful to me. I’m graduating in May though, so I need to to be more strategic about which projects I take on.
A lot of the experiences and projects I’ve found most rewarding have been the ones that I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen from a long list of other options…things that didn’t jump out at me until I was in the middle of them and realized how great of a fit they were for me. And the flip side of that is that some of the directions that seemed to be so perfect on paper didn’t always make as much sense once I actually tried them out.
This is a really great advice. I’ve also found that (seemingly) lack of focus has brought great meaning to me.
A lot of times we don’t know what we want to do for the simple reason that we don’t know enough about it yet- not the theory, but the working out. So my suggestion is to take on the project that is available, accessible, and is ready for the taking. You’ll be amazed at how much you will learn (all the nuances) in that experience and you may not know what you want yet in the end, but you will definitely eliminate all the areas that you now know you don’t want to be in.
My most amazing experiences have always been those where I just went with my gut. My rule is that if I see an opportunity and I think about even just one more time after I see it initially, I have to investigate it further. If your curiosity is peaked by something, listen to your gut. You don’t necessarily have to go for it, but you should explore it. Going with my gut is how I ended up in Indian dance classes, on an archaeology trip in Belize, and in my current job!When you’re making decisions, think about the time commitment for the opportunities you’re considering. If it’s as simple as signing up for a class that will meet just a few times, it’s a low initial commitment but enough experience to help you gauge your interest in continuing. If it is a longer time commitment, think about what other things you will have to say “no” to in order to accept the opportunity – are you comfortable closing the other doors for now?And the best advice I’ve ever been given was that nothing is permanent. If you focus on something and it doesn’t work out or you don’t like it, that’s ok – you learned something about yourself and your interests. You aren’t stuck with it for life, no matter how much it sometimes feels like you are. And sometimes those “mistakes” have a funny way of working out.
By only one means and that secret is just Focusing.
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