Today, blogger Adam Miller writes that one can achieve primo decision-making skills (and career success) by reframing all queries around a single "yardstick" word:
Each time you find yourself trying to make a larger decision, this can serve as the yardstick by which you measure it’s alignment with how you’d like to live your life. For example, if you were thinking that your yardstick would be “balance”, each time you’re setting a goal in your life, you can refer back and ask yourself, “Does this improve my balance?” For each project you might be starting, ask, ‘Does this project help me work towards my yardstick?”
The funny thing is, as soon as I read that post, I knew what my "yardstick" was.
Smart people, smart job, smart clothing. (Sorry, am appearance-obsessed. There's this suit I saw at Macy's that I literally dream about at night.)
When I was in Minneapolis, stuffing envelopes for the insurance company, I got invited to a party. It was being given by one of my students in a continuing education class (I was teaching an Intro to Acting course at MCTC). The young man hosting the party was my age, but he had gone into journalism and was now working an entry-level job at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Most of the other people at that party were his (entry-level) colleagues; but unlike the people I saw daily at the envelope-stuffing job, these people were smart. Clever. Entertaining. And they also had smart clothing.
I left the party wondering what would have happened had I gone into journalism, instead of theatre.
There are plenty of "smart" jobs in DC, and loads of smart people. I need-want-hope-desperately-wish to find them.
The hard part is that I see them, every day. We've had a week of beautiful sunny afternoons, and so every day on my lunch break, I go and walk around the parks scattered within the DC business district.
And every day I see, scattered on the lawns of these parks, smart young people in smart clothing eating smartly-packed lunches and enjoying (no doubt) smart conversation.
The job I'm temping at right now has a "come-as-you-are" dress code, and so I slink around the edges of the parks in the same old things I wore as a graduate student.
The job I'm temping at right now will not get me where I want to be.
I don't know how to get myself into that job/that suit/that park bench/that conversation.
Adam Miller would tell me to frame everything around the query "does this get me closer towards smart?"
I would tell Adam Miller that the first step is figuring out how to find a question that will equal the answer yes.