Mid-Life And Career Floating?


When you were in your late teens you hadn’t quite figured out what you wanted to ‘be’, but you had your whole life in front of you. Besides, there was a lot going on back then; the new job, the relationship thing was blossoming. Friends were in abundance and there was so much energy in your life!

Back then, things seemed bright and you felt you had purpose. You were learning new skills on the job, more senior employees you worked with showed you how to do what it was you needed to know. Of course you were pretty sure some of them should have moved on and definitely saw your chance coming to take their place in the near future and move up in the pay grid. The company would be taking leaps and bounds with the infusion of your generating ideas; surely they’d be grateful for taking them as you transformed things from the way they’d always been done to your new world order.

As you arrived into the 30’s, your perspective changed. A little older and wiser, the folly of your youthful exuberance was understood and you came to realize those older employees who you thought would soon be out to pasture when you were in your 20’s were themselves only in their mid 40’s. They were actually in their prime, and while some have moved on, many have moved up while others have become your go-to co-workers; best buds in the workplace. While some of your ideas are considered, you’ve matured and had this growing realization that other people’s ideas have merit too. In fact, some of your ‘best’ ideas you came to realize wouldn’t have been successful had someone had the wish to implement them after all.

Now it’s you in mid-work-life career and you’re conflicted. You’re hungry for more, looking for something that’s fulfilling, challenging and above all stimulating. You’re wanting more income to do all the things you want in the lifestyle you’re after. However, what’s plaguing you is this nagging itch you can’t seem to find to scratch; figuring out what it is you’d really like to be doing. The thing is that while you’re trying to figure out this big mystery, time is passing. Welcome to Career Floating.

Career floating as I call it, is when you stagnate. You’ve got the skills and ability to do your job and do it well by the way. You’re not the expert yet you’ll one day be, (although you won’t come to fully appreciate this for another 10 years). You’re feeling pulled to do something more, something different. What’s complicating things is…well…a number of things.

There’s the responsibilities you’ve got with respect to the mortgage, your role as partner and parent. It’s taken you until now to become exposed to other possible careers and yet every career move seems to need an education you haven’t got at the moment and a return to school to get what you lack to get what you want means an interruption in your income. How can you suddenly go back to school, incur more debt and give up your salaried income for 2 or 3 years? How long is it going to take to recover all those lost wages and incurred debt?

The more you think on things and try to reason things out, the more you beat yourself up for inaction and over-thinking things instead of making a decision. So when did you come to be so hesitant and indecisive? Oh my goodness! Suddenly you realize you’re becoming Lou – or is it Louise? That person at work that seems to be stuck going nowhere that you snickered about inside when he was talking in the lunchroom about being so unsure of what to do himself. Lou, Louise; their 15 years your senior; there’s no way you intend on being in that same situation in 15 years!

There’s not going to be some amazing advice at the end of this piece. If you’re reading this saying to yourself, “Yes! Yes! Yes! This is exactly me! It’s like he’s talking to me specifically! What oh what am I to do?!” Sorry. There’s way too many of you – of us – realizing that re-inventing ourselves is not just fanciful but downright necessary if we’re to really be happy and re-engaged in our work lives. Things have become too automatic haven’t they? Sure you have to work at things still; the job doesn’t do itself. However, you’re looking down the road at the rest of your work life and saying more and more often, “Is this it?”

Well as you may have guessed by now, you’re not alone and nor are you a failure. Who you are as a worker is only one piece of what makes up your identity. There’s your social and home life, hobbies, your role as a parent, sibling, family member. There’s your free time and spare time, your quiet time and vacation time. Look at life – oops the big, “L” Life any number of ways. Yes you spend a large amount of time at work and therefore define yourself and are defined by others often by what it is you do – who you are. However, it is but one way to define yourself.

You’re no closer to having the curtain pulled back and an answer. This one, you figure out for yourself. Hint: listen to yourself and above all else,

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Stuck On Picking A Career


Sometimes we get stuck right? I mean, we have a vague idea of what it is we think we’d like, but as I say, it’s a vague or general idea. This is when we say things such as,, “Well I’d like to work with animals,” “I want to help people”, or “I’m good with my hands.” While these kind of statements are good starting places and represent an early first step in career decision-making, some people will get stuck moving beyond one of these broad sweeping statements.

While it might seem pretty common for people in their late teens and early 20’s to be typically thinking about what to do career-wise and getting stuck, it can happen to anyone at any time. Take you . Uh huh, you.

Have you got one of those LinkedIn titles that says, “Open to new opportunities”? No? Maybe yours says, “Looking to make a difference!” or “Seeking new challenges.” Ah, so you do have one of these or something close to one.  Even after having read any of these three, the reader is still no closer to knowing what it is you want. This is because you don’t either. Maybe you’ve even convinced yourself you’re being deliberately vague so you keep your options open. Sure. I’ve seen a lot of resumes over the years that start with the same kind of statements; “Looking for an opportunity to use my skills and grow with the company”. Even after having read that opening objective statement, the goal is still completely unknown. What a waste of 13 words on the résumé!

The problem however, is defining not just to the world, but to ourselves, what it is we want to do. If we could do that, then we could figure out the steps we need to take to move closer to our goal. We could for example figure out that we need a certain Diploma, Course or Degree and then happily invest the time and money to go pursue it; confidently knowing that we’re on the right track and with every day getting closer to our ultimate employment goal.

However, isn’t the real issue here that we don’t often know – that is – YOU don’t know what the end goal is? I mean, that’s what makes the idea of school and its associated cost so intimidating right? I mean, sure going to school to get more knowledge is great but with no goal, what if we choose wrong? What if we end up spending thousands of dollars and 2 or 3 years of our life in school only to find that we don’t really want to do whatever it is we’re in school for by the time we graduate? That would definitely be a waste of time and money and we’d be no further ahead. Or so we’ve told ourselves over and over.

So you’re paralyzed; stuck. Every day seems like spinning the same record around and around, trying to decide what to do? What to be? Look up the song, “Big Time Operator” by Keith Hampshire. Figure out this one thing and you’re good to go.

Okay so let’s see if we can’t help out here. Start with giving yourself both the permission to get going and forgiveness if you get it wrong. Who told you that you have to get it right this time or your entire life is a failure? That’s just not true. Work, for all its worth, is only one part of who you are; one part of what defines you.

To find a career, let me simplify things. First you need to be exposed to some possibilities and then you investigate them. You can gain exposure to careers a number of ways. Talk to people and ask them what they do, ask your local employment centre what careers are in demand, use the internet and search careers in your vague, generalized areas of choice. “Helping people careers”, “Jobs with animals” or “Physical jobs”, “Manual labour careers”.  You can also search what are called, “NOC CODES.” National Occupation Classification codes. You can search by skills, or even an alphabetical listing and see what jobs exist; many you might be entirely unaware of. So these ideas give you exposure.

Now, having exposed yourself to more possibilities that might interest you, choose a few and start investigating. Before looking to see how much the job is in demand or how much it pays, you’ll want to know if this is something that only sounds good or if it sounds good and in fact it interests you once you’ve done some research.

Find people in the roles you’re considering and talk to them. Set up meetings, email them some questions, have some conversations. Learn what’s good and bad, what skills and education are needed, how they got started and how they’d get started today if they were just beginning as things may have changed. Then ask them for the names of others you might talk to.

The more you learn, the more you’ll feel the job is right for you or not. When you start getting enthusiastic about a job, look into education requirements, the labour market, where the opportunities are. Still interested? Feeling on the right track? That’s because you are! But to get to this point, you have to get moving.

Remember how long you’ve been stuck where you are and know that continuing to do nothing won’t move you forward.

What Are YOU Waiting For?


Whether it’s deliberating on returning to school, putting off seeing a Mental Health Counsellor, having a mammogram or colonoscopy, getting in shape, taking that trip, saying I love you or any number of things you could be stalling over, I simply ask you, “what are you waiting for?”

Is it the right moment? When do you see that happening? What are you waiting to fall into place so the time is right?

Do. It. Now.

We know that time doesn’t wait; every powered clock ticks by and the second that just elapsed will never come again. Yes there is an urgency and you’ve been lucky so far in delaying taking action. So far, things haven’t significantly changed robbing you of the opportunity to do what it is your mulling or fretting over. However, with every passing second there is an increasing possibility that something can and will change, stealing your opportunity and that possibility will be replaced with regret. Is that what you want?

Consider: you might know someone who waited too long to tell another how much they were in love. Then what happened? In waiting for just the right moment, a third person entered in and with just a little more urgency said what they did not. Opportunity gone.

Maybe you know someone who said, “I should have gone back to school but I was waiting until I earned more money first…now I’m too old. There’s people who planned on traveling abroad and seeing the world but never actually went anywhere because instead they bended to family pressures and stayed home. Perhaps you know someone who always wanted to be a (fill in the blank) but put off really going for it because it just seemed too hard – and that disappointment still haunts them.

Too much can happen while you deliberate. People move or die, jobs get filled, prices rise, doors once open close, responsibilities surface, needs change… you get the point. Do it now.

I have to tell you that one of the biggest mental blocks I hear over and over in my job is, “but I’m too old now”. Who says so? is my reply. Most of the time the one person holding them back isn’t some Hiring Manager at a company they want to work for, nor is it someone in Human Resources refusing to advance their application. No, more often than not the person who thinks they are too old is the person themselves. Here it is in a nutshell: if you think you’re too old…you are. And until you change this crippling mindset you will continue to be.

How sad it is to be locked in some prison cell of our own making with the key in our hands and lamenting to anyone passing by that you just want to be released. The key (literally in this scenario) is in your hands! Open the door!

You always have choices: 1) Do it now. 2) Do it later (maybe) 3) Don’t do it.

If it’s important enough that you lie awake consumed with wanting badly; if it’s your every waking moment’s thought; if in your most personal and intimate moments of reflection it just keeps surfacing, don’t you owe it to yourself to make it your reality? At least to try?

How long is your lifespan? You have no idea of course. You imagine yourself living a set number of years, and you hope those will be in decent if not good health. Your time is finite. From the moment you were conceived and later breathed that first gasp of air your clock starting ticking and will at an unknown point suddenly stop without warning. Yours might stop at 34 years, 16 days and 23 minutes. Maybe it’s 51 years, 11 months and 6 minutes, 18 seconds. Of this you have no absolute knowledge or control.

What you can control is what you choose to do with the time you have now. What is important to you? Who are the people important to you? What are the causes you care about, where are the places you want to see in-person, what are the changes in the world you want to bring about that are important to you to make it a better place? What is the education or job you always wanted?

For if you knew you only had 2 years left, would you spend your remaining days going about life the way you are now? Would your answer change if you had 6 months? What if you knew you had 60 years left? Would having all that time left cause you to put off what you really want today?

Now you may be someone who wants to get going but can’t figure out what it is you really want. Maybe that’s at the core of your stress; the indecisiveness and associated inaction. DO SOMETHING. Nothing happens until you take action. So take a chance and learn from the outcome. Register for school, tell somebody how much you mean to them, go to the gym, buy the house, get on the plane, mend the feud that’s kept you apart, take the course, say yes instead of maybe.

With every passing second, you’re rolling the dice and gambling that they’ll always be time in the future to do what you want to do but lack the courage to do now.

Will your life be punctuated with a period or an exclamation mark? Hopefully not a dreaded question mark.

 

 

Wanting To Experience A Better Future


If you assume that everybody wants a better future, you’d be surprised to find out that your assumption is wrong. Of course, we’d have to come to an understanding between us about what the term, ‘better’ implies. Does better mean more money, a better job; maybe ‘just’ a job? Does it imply a home to live in, a loving partner, a pet, travel, having children, etc.? Better to you might not be better for others no matter what you name.

For many, building a better future is going to take work; work they’re ready to put in so that one day they can make what others only hope for. These kind of people believe they are the architects of their own future, that nothing worth having is just going to be handed to them. They plan and then put their plans into action by rolling up their sleeves and getting down to business. How bad they want it and how hard they’re ready to work for it will decide how successful they’ll be and how long it will take to realize what they’re after.

Others  believe a better future is worth a $5.00 investment once a week or more. These folks have pinned their future to a lottery; they dream big and invest little; setting aside some of their disposable income on an extremely small chance that luck will favour them. Soon they’ll stand on a stage with an over-sized cheque and life will dramatically change for them with the calling out of some random numbers. Their philosophy is, “you can’t win if you don’t play”, while others believe, “it’s impossible to lose if you don’t play.”

For others, having a better future has nothing at all to do with money or wealth. Their picture of a brighter and better future has to do with improved health; eradicating a disease, overcoming a health scare, getting stronger, changing their weight, having more stamina etc. It might mean new dentures that bring back their smile, learning to walk again or walking pain-free. Hoping and praying perhaps for a cure that comes in their time for what is slowly robbing them of their body and mind.

Some seemingly have it all together from outward appearances. Still searching and wanting a better future however, they may have hopes for reconciliation, patching up past relationships, strained friendships, They may dogged by an inability to let things go, reluctant to put in the effort to bring about the change needed, to choose forgiveness instead of bitterness.

For you though; you my reader – what does a better future mean for you? What does that look like when you picture life ahead?

Maybe you’re one who wants a better, more fulfilling future but has yet to figure out what that future looks like. Perhaps your wish and hope is actually that; to figure it out. Just being able to decide what career or job you’d most like – that alone would be something! Getting past the indecision, wanting to put a plan in action but not being able to because you figure you must have something to be working toward and the not-knowing has you paralyzed, stressed and downright frustrated.

If you’re after a better future; you can go about it in one of two ways I suppose; change nothing and believe that eventually what you’re doing in the present will bring about the result you’re after. The other alternative is that something; or some things (plural) need to change. Most of the time those who believe something has to change start with a shift in their thinking. The mindset, thoughts, ideas and beliefs sometimes have to shift, being willing to try that which hasn’t been tried before. Do this and you embrace a, “Change begins with me” mentality; “Be the change I want to see” philosophy.

So whether it’s finding yourself, finding God, finding a golden ticket in a chocolate bar or finding yourself signing a new car agreement, the decisions you make going forward from today will bring you closer to your goal or leave you further from it.

Is it as simple as that? Does it come down to better decision-making? All the decisions you’ve made up to now have in large part been responsible for where you find yourself now. The food in your cupboards products of your decisions made in the grocery store. The furniture you sit on a result of the decisions you made on what to buy, borrow or claim. The job you have a product of your decision about your education, your choice of employers, your decision to commute or not.

Decisions are often made by others that affect us though. Employers move, expand and contract, lay off and hire, promote and fire. How we react to these things is ultimately our decision to make. Do we rebel and fight, carry the bitterness with us, shake their hand and move on?

Opting for a brighter and better future might be what you’ve decided on for yourself. Determining what that means – for you personally – is entirely up to you. Talking it out is often a good start. Even when you aren’t sure what you’ll end up deciding on, getting your thoughts out and sharing what’s going on in your mind is helpful.

No sage advice this time around. Just a question; If you want a better future, what does it look like?

 

 

 

Don’t Know What To Do?


So much of the advice one seems to get these days is to find a job / occupation which you’ll be passionate about. There is good reason for this of course; being enthusiastic about your work on a daily basis will improve your attendance, your productivity, keep you working cooperatively with similarly motivated people and you’ll be happier of course.

It makes sense from so many angles then to love the work you do. However, as we build up the importance of knowing what you want to do and being passionate about it, there is an unintended problem being created for those who haven’t yet figured out where their passion lies. If one agrees with how finding their passion will improve their overall happiness but they can’t define it, they’ll often develop anxiety and fear where they previously might not have before learning the value of feeling passion in their work.

Then what happens is people set out to discover what they would be passionate about but do this as an intellectual exercise only. That is to say instead of taking jobs and discovering what they like and don’t like and using their experiences to get closer to a passionate experience, they imagine what a job might be like. When they only imagine the job and project their best guesses as to what it would feel like, they’re going to more often than not make errors in judgement and reject jobs out of hand. I see this all the time.

What I have observed is that many unemployed people will make a generalized statement such as, “I know I want to work with people” for example. Now there are very few jobs where other people aren’t in some way part of the employment experience. The statement is far too broad to really be much of a guide to finding employment that will be highly satisfactory. Further questions and answers are needed to narrow this all-encompassing statement down to something much more definitive.

What field(s) would be of interest? Health? Forestry? Environmental? Business? Technology? Science? In describing the end-users who would benefit from your work; are they disabled, elderly, home owners, vacationers, dieters, religious, teens in trouble, wealthy etc. The list can be incredibly long! Further, in addition to the end-users, what about your co-workers? Are you hoping they are open-minded, intellectual, task-oriented, curious, aggressive, friendly, dependent? here is as you can see so much to determine when starting with such statements.

Somehow we’ve got it wrong I think. Yes I think while we’ve done a good job getting people to buy-in to the idea of finding work that will fuel our passion as the path to happiness, we’ve done a poor job building in the supports to help figure out what that is. The good news is that more people need to hear that many jobs and multiple careers will provide happiness; that a person can work passionately in a number of jobs. The pressure to find that single job on the planet one was destined to do is a fallacy.

As soon as one believes there are many jobs that will bring happiness and job satisfaction, the pressure goes down a little to find one. Now the person is looking for one of those jobs, not THE job; a huge shift in focus. While thinking about what might bring you happiness is a worthwhile exercise, over-thinking about what might bring you happiness is not. Over-thinking things can stall forward movement; developing a situation where someone feels stuck and afraid of choosing incorrectly.

Yes, sometimes the best action a person can take is to get out and work with the purpose of trying various jobs and all the while evaluating the good and the bad, the pros and the cons of the work they perform. As one moves from job to job, doing more of the things one likes and less of the things one has learned they don’t makes each successive job more fulfilling.

The person therefore who says they want to work with people might start in the kitchen of a restaurant. While they like the teamwork there they may not like the stress of making sure every plate looks identical to another or the pressure of delivering so many meals quickly and perfectly. So the teamwork is appealing and the food industry is not. Strike out kitchen work but retain the teamwork. Next they work on a team canvassing neighbourhoods for donations for a charity. Again the teamwork is positive and being outdoors is refreshing but they learn they just aren’t cut out to pitch and sell. Teamwork and the outdoors are pros, selling and the kitchen are out. You get the idea I hope.

This kind of process takes time and much experimentation, trial and error. All the while though, you’re on a journey where you learn about your likes and dislikes, you discover what you’re good at, where you derive your happiness most often. At some point you find you’ve figured it out, and it could be in a job you didn’t even know existed when you first started out on your journey.

Take a deep breath and exhale and then do it two or three more times. You’re in this for the long haul and give yourself permission to experiment. Finding passion in your work is great but working while learning about your likes and dislikes is valuable too.

 

 

Job Searching: Jean And Sarah’s Journey


Today I’d like to share the stories of two women I’ve been working with of late, both of whom have been looking for employment. While it may appear to the casual observer that both are job searching in a similar fashion, in reality they are taking very different ways to obtain work which will bring them happiness and security. While I’m telling you their stories, I’ve taking the liberty of changing up their names to respect and safeguard their confidentiality.

Interestingly I met both women for the first time when they accepted an invitation to participate in an intensive job search program I run. They’d both been searching unsuccessfully prior to our meeting and both seemed eager to find work. During the two weeks we spent together on a daily basis, both revamped their resumes, strengthened their cover letters and interviewing skills and both were encouraged to target their applications to specific employers rather than send out generalized applications. In other words, both got the same message and advice on how to ultimately land the jobs they were after.

Jean is pretty clear about her ultimate employment goal as she’s after a position in a Human Resources role. She’s got recent education, a positive outlook and while she has experience, it’s rather limited to her placements through school. Of course she has other work history to draw on, just not in her field of choice. Hey, everybody has to start somewhere right?

Sarah by contrast isn’t committed to any one employment goal. She’s got a wealth of experience in Office Administration but finds the routine familiarity of the job wears on her and she needs more stimulation and variety. She’s got great interpersonal skills, a positive friendly attitude and is also open to retail sales and working in a call centre, but if she had her way she’d love to make a living as a Singer. She’s got talent I will say, but whether it’s enough to pay the bills and earn a livelihood? That’s debatable.

As the two went about their job search, I noticed that both women got on well together and shared enthusiasm for the work involved which is always a good sign. They were both applying for jobs they felt they had qualifications for, and both got several interviews and job offers. Only one of the two however actually accepted a job while the other turned down opportunities and is still looking. Why you ask? Let’s look at that.

Jean is the lady who accepted a job. Remember she was the one looking for an HR job and she had little experience in this role beyond what she learned in school coupled with a co-op placement. Jean realized that she was competing for jobs not only with others like her who have recently graduated with little experience but also with the many other people out there who have the experience she lacks and are working in other roles just waiting for HR job postings. That as it turns out is a lot of people.

While she kept applying to jobs which popped up for HR positions, she turned her attention away from just scouring the internet for these jobs alone. She realized that all companies have people performing HR roles, so she started looking for a large organization that is well-respected, stable and in her community. She shifted her thinking from finding an HR job to finding employment with a company of choice in any capacity to get inside. Once hired, she could then learn about internal postings and have an edge over those on the outside which would reduce the competition and at the same time provide her with an income.

Sarah on the other hand, for all her skills, remained torn between the Office Administration jobs she had the skills and experience for but didn’t love, the retail sales jobs she finds a lack of satisfaction in, and the call center jobs she can do but doesn’t get to use her creativity in. Of course there’s a music career that would bring the creativity and passion but is less stable and takes a lot to launch.

In a recent conversation Sarah said she had 7 interviews of late and 3 job offers but she turned them down. Why? Well one job was going to be 12 hour shifts which she felt too long. I pointed out that the 4 days she’d be working those shifts would give her 1 weekday to do whatever she was truly passionate about but it didn’t appeal.

While both Jean and Sarah applied for different kinds of jobs, to date it is Jean who is employed. She works for a large big box home improvement employer in their lighting department. She’s working to get past probation and ultimately has her eye on an HR job down the road working off the sales floor. She’s happy and still focused on her long-term goal which makes her sales job more than bearable.

Sarah’s main issue is not having yet decided what she ultimately wants. This  has left her conflicted, for when she moves towards something she likes, part of her realizes she’s moving away from something else she also likes and she gets nervous. So what happens? She retreats back to the middle for fear of making the wrong move and is paralyzed.

My advice? Settle on what you want and stay focused.

 

A Life Path Exercise


Here’s an interesting activity for you and those you work with to do, or it may be something that you’d like to introduce to an adult class you facilitate if you are a teacher or workshop leader. It has to do with depicting your path in life up to the present moment in time. It’s a good way to get to know others around you better and at the same time give you a visual representation of your own history; something very valuable as you’ll see.

How it goes is this: Each person participating is given a paper to write on that is large enough so that it can be posted on a wall for everyone to look at without having to use a magnifying glass. You’ll have to judge the size of paper based on the wall space you have and how many people are participating. Half a sheet of flip chart paper works nicely in most cases.

Each person begins by putting a dot on the page and labels that dot with the location of their birth; typically town or city and name of country. Where everyone started out in this world is in itself a good starting point for generating conversation. You could, if everyone agrees, add the year to the location.  What was going on in that part of the world when you were born is often very insightful. Everyone starts the same; with the first dot being their birth and ends with their final dot being the class everyone is presently taking or the company everyone is working at if it’s a workplace activity, although their positions will vary.

Moving out from the initial dot, each person now draws a line in any direction they wish (most will move from left to right in the western world you may find), and plots a second dot when they recall something memorable to note. It could be anything the person chooses to highlight and share with others including completing high school, moving somewhere new, losing a parent, meeting someone of great influence in their life; maybe even having a childhood illness of lasting significance.

The process continues with extending the line from the second dot to another one and so forth, noting significant moments like new jobs, volunteer roles, getting married, having children or grandchildren, losing jobs, life-defining moments they can recall, moving to new countries, taking the trip of a lifetime, buying a first home, education achievements, etc..

There are really only two guidelines when it comes to what to plot; it’s up to the person themselves to choose the events they wish to comfortably share and the other is that there should be a high degree of respect for what everyone sees on others lifelines. While some might reveal very little of their personal life and restrict themselves to a career path, others might open themselves up to a greater degree adding things like declaring their preferred gender for the first time, moments of great despair and failure etc.

You can see that the level to which a person shares their life journey is indicative of the relationship they feel they have with their audience. Groups that know each other well might reveal more or less than those who are less of a shared history together. This is the kind of activity that you could also do over not just 20 minutes but perhaps a week or more. Maybe people just sit and list on a regular piece of paper their own life events and then transfer these to the larger papers for viewing at a later date.

Now the interesting and most valuable part to this collective exercise is the conversations it generates and the shared or unique experiences people learn about each other. If you are facilitating this exercise in a class, you can draw attention to moments that took great courage, situations in which someone overcame great sadness or tragedy and of course celebrate those moments of great personal satisfaction and joy. It can be extremely uplifting and empowering to have one’s life experiences acknowledged, shared and celebrated.

It can be limited to just career moves as well which some might find safer and less invasive; but you only share what you want in any event. My advice would be to get some agreed upon parameters at the outset from those participating so everyone is okay with what they share and they should know who might look over their life path.

The benefit to this activity is that it can help people understand and appreciate others in ways they could not do otherwise. While one person might get to know another over time and over many conversations, this speeds up that ‘getting to know you better’ process and extends it outward beyond just the people we typically talk to about such things. A deeper understanding and empathy for co-workers, classmates etc. can come about that accelerates relationship building which then in turn can aid in shared projects, shared workspaces and interpersonal development.

A really good facilitator can also articulate and name the skills a person exhibited along their journey in life that they themselves may undervalue or think others will not find value in. It can also provide some good clues explaining why someone thinks, talks and behaves the way they do.

Is there an element of risk and trust in the sharing? Sure there is; there always is in most things worthwhile. Imagine the benefits.