My Career, Sans Ladder

October 04, 2005

Asking the Right Questions (pt 1)

Welcome to the first of what I hope is a recurring discussion on this blog - figuring out what questions should be answered when changing careers.

There's a quote (of which I can't find a good link to) that says something along the lines of "ugly questions get ugly answers." And it uses the SUV as an example to the ugly question of how can we make the minivan more masculine.

What I'd like to do is first talk about what the right questions are, and then work on getting good answers. So, rather than the typical "would you rather be a carpenter ant or lawyer bird", what do you think should be asked of those in search of a new career?


  • Here's a few to start:

    1) Who am I?
    2) What situations have brought out the best in me?
    3) How did I act during those peak experiences?
    4) What type of environment do I thrive in?
    5) What are my values/beliefs?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:11 AM  

  • found here, how bout this question:

    what reasons have led you to the life you've chosen?

    By Anonymous anon, at 10:48 AM  

  • I don't have anything to contribute with respect to what the questions are, but I do believe that deciding where to look for answers is key. I've been increasingly trying to get out of my head (thinking) and into the rest of my body (feeling), and creating space -- and time -- for "answers" to bubble up from an inner spring.

    One helpful resource I've found in this new path is Rick Jarow's Ultimate Anti-Career Guide. I listed a number of other resources I've found helpful in a post I made during my most recent awareness of being at a career crossroads ("When One Door Closes, Another Opens") ... I actually believe I am always at a potential career crossroads, it's just my awareness of turnoffs that varies from time to time.

    Oh, one other thing I'll share: I've found it extremely helpful to get clear on a sense of mission, as this greatly simplifies making decisions (professional and personal ... though that distinction is increasingly blurred). I can ask "how would this help me accomplish my mission?" ... and listen with my heart as well as my head.

    By Anonymous Joe, at 11:34 AM  

  • Thanks for the excellent links Joe.

    By Blogger adam, at 11:38 AM  

  • Just found this blog (via the gapingvoid discussion) and it's hitting all my buttons. I think you're already asking the right questions - what have I done that's been the most fulfilling? Where do I want to live, who do I want to work with? etc - but you should also read the classic career changing manual, What Colour is My Parachute.

    Some more questions that I would suggest:
    Stability or independence?
    More money or more free time?
    One job or many?

    More and more, I think a portfolio career is the way to go - balancing sources of income that satisfy different needs, eg. working a "sensible" job part-time, taking on freelance work in the same or other areas, plus doing creative work/play and looking for ways to make that pay... whatever.

    Good luck and have fun.

    By Blogger ScroobiousScrivener, at 7:08 AM  

  • Great post and very interesting! I sometimes think maybe living with the question is more important than finding the answer. What led you to ask this question? (Oh, crap - that's another question).

    By Blogger George Allan, at 7:42 AM  

  • interesting thoughts Scroob and George.

    "I sometimes think maybe living with the question is more important than finding the answer."

    yeah, I'm still working on the whole "journey is more important than the destination" thing...I find myself constantly flip-flopping on what's more important...destination has to matter at some point doesn't it??

    for now, what can be answered is "what led you to ask this question".

    it's the belief that asking the right question is a big part of getting the right answer. that may sound kinda obvious, but I think a lot of the time/effort could be saved if more time is spent at the start making sure the right question is asked.

    in particular I like applying that thought to product design...similar to the SUV quote in the original post and also in a "People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole" sense.

    more here:

    By Blogger adam, at 5:50 PM  

  • Great job on the blog... some really good content. Keep up the good work!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:09 PM  

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