For those paths, evaluate your starting point, based on your current skills, resources, and connections relevant to that field. Think about end points and where on each line your star should be placed. Make an initial estimate for what your pace of improvement might be on these various game boards, based on your current pace-related strengths and how much you think you can improve at each of them in other words, how much your speed might be able to accelerate.
You take your game board and make it a line, you plot starting points and success stars that together generate the various distances in front of you, and for each, you multiply your pace by your level of persistence. A from-first-principles Reality Box audit may bring some overly optimistic people down to Earth, but I suspect that for most, an audit will leave them feeling like they have a lot more options than they realized, empowering them to set their sights on a bolder direction. A good Reality Box reflection warrants yet another Want Box reflection.
Reframing a bunch of career paths in your mind will affect your level of yearning for some of them. One career may seem less appealing after reminding yourself that it will entail thousands of hours of networking or multiple decades of pre-success struggle. Another may seem less daunting after changing your mind about how much luck is actually involved.
This brings us to the end of our long, two-part deep dive. After a fairly exhausting box-auditing process, we can return to our Venn 10 diagram. Assuming some things have changed, you have a new Option Pool to look at—a new list of options on the table that seem both desirable to your high-priority rankings and possible to achieve. If there had been a clear arrow on your map before your audit, check out your new Option Pool. Remember, going from a false arrow to a question mark is always major progress in life.
And actually, a new question mark implies having made the key cliff jump on two roller coasters: getting to know yourself and getting to know the world. Major step in the right direction. Cross out the arrow and join the question mark crowd. Now the question mark crowd has a tough choice.
You gotta pick one of the arrows in the Option Pool. Careers used to be kind of like a year tunnel. You picked your tunnel, and once you were in, that was that. You worked in that profession for 40 years or so before the tunnel spit you out on the other side into your retirement. The truth is, careers have probably never really functioned like year-tunnels, they just seemed that way.
At best, traditional careers of the past played out kind of like tunnels. But crusty old conventional wisdom has a lot of us still viewing things that way, which makes the already hard job of making big career path choices much harder. It enhances the delusion that what we do for work is a synonym for who we are, making a question mark on your map seem like an existential disaster. When you think of your career as a tunnel, the stakes to make the right choice seem so high that it explodes the feeling of tyranny of choice.
For perfectionist types especially, this can be utterly paralyzing. When you think of your career as a tunnel, you lose the courage to make a career switch, even when your soul is begging for it. It makes switching careers feel incredibly risky and embarrassing, and it suggests that someone who does so is a failure. But conventional wisdom still tells many of us that careers are tunnels. And of course, that landscape—and those game boards—will have themselves evolved. Popular psychologist Dan Gilbert also eloquently describes just how bad we are at predicting what will make us happy in the future.
Pretending you can figure out what dot 2 or 4 or 8 should be now is laughable. Future dots are the worry of a future, wiser you living in a future world. Dot 1 is your chance to test it out. Hypothesis testing is intuitive in the dating world. You have to get some experience dating this person to learn what you need to learn to make that decision.
We can all agree that this hypothetical friend is pretty nuts and is lacking a fundamental understanding of how you find a happy relationship. Reframing your next major career decision as a far lower-stakes choice makes the number of options exciting, not stressful. And now you have to actually make the move. The Yearning Octopus can help. As we discussed earlier, your behavior at any given point simply displays the configuration of your octopus. Your conscious mind may have tried to assign lower shelf ratings to the parts of your octopus that lean towards inertia, but your yearnings have rebelled.
To fix this problem, think like a kindergarten teacher. In your class, a faction of the 5-year-olds is rebelling against your wishes. What do you do? Go talk to the 5-year-olds that are causing the trouble.
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Describe to them the insights you gained from your Reality Box reflection. Remind them about how connecting the dots works and about the chillness of dot 1. Until you do, your life will be run by a bunch of primitive, short-sighted 5-year-olds, and your whole shit will suck. Trust me, I know. Jumping to a new dot is a liberating feeling, usually side by side with some substantial internal havoc.
The whining octopus is a reminder of why pure, elated happiness is never a reasonable goal. The times you feel pure happiness are temporary, drug-induced delusions—like the honeymoon phase of a new relationship or new job or the high following a long-awaited success. Chasing happiness is an amateur move. Feeling contentment in those times when your choices and your circumstances have combined to pull it off, and knowing you have all that you could ever ask for, is for the wise. For a while, you can just live. As far as you know, you might be Michael Jordan holding his first basketball, so start playing.
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At some point, your good feelings about the macro picture may sour. This is the mission-enhancing type of dot jump.
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A mission-changing dot jump may be in order, but depending on which parts of you are asking for it, it may also be the wrong move. The people on the left side of this spectrum are jump-shy. The cement-footed. Their pitfall is staying way too long in the wrong things. This is why these internal frameworks are important. They give you the ability to analyze the source of your impulses. In our example, the question is whether your impulse to jump missions is the result of genuine evolution or quick-quitter bias.
So think about your diagram. Is your restlessness just the expected incessant whining of an octopus still correctly configured? Or have you learned new information about yourself or the world during the trudge that has corrected some off-base initial assumptions? Or maybe something is fundamentally evolving—some blue or yellow loop activity:. If you feel that things have genuinely changed, you may decide to zoom out even further and think about the big red loop, which deals with fundamentally changing your mission:.
The best place to start is by looking at your own past. Studying your own past decisions, with the flashlight of hindsight and accumulated wisdom, is like an athlete studying game tape. Looking at my own past, I can see a lot of dot jumps or, while I was still in school, career plan adjustments , and some of them look pretty unwise in retrospect.
Over the course of your life, your good and bad decisions will collaborate to forge your unique life path. But we should probably embrace the fear of end-of-life regret. I think end-of-life regrets may simply be your authentic self thinking about the parts of your life you never got to live—the parts of you that someone else kicked down into your subconscious. My own psyche seems to back this up—looking back on my path so far, the mistakes that bother me most are the ones that happened because someone else took the wheel of my head and overruled the quiet, insecure voice of my authentic self—the mistakes that I knew at the time, deep down, were wrong.
Other voices will never stop fiercely trying to live your life for you—you owe it to that little insecure character in the very center of your consciousness to get this right. And if you want to download this post for printing and offline sharing, you can buy it here. Some paper to write on: Your octopus. Your priority shelf. Some path distances. Your career dot map. The site 80, hours —dedicated to helping young, high-potential people make big career choices—is an awesome resource. The site is run by super smart, thoughtful, forward-thinking people, and can be digested in video or book format in addition to on their site.
Seth has a lot of wisdom in his head, and he doles it out in little bite-sized nuggets each morning on his blog which I receive by email. Why Procrastinators Procrastinate. And a post about getting wiser. And a few less self-reflect-y Wait But Why posts on:. Awkward social interactions. The history of everything. Colonizing Mars. Also hoodies are cozy and Allbirds are like wearing socks all the time and jeans are magical pants you never have to actually wash unless you spill something colorful on them. Fun meals and exercise fall into this category.
Did you know that 9 out of 10 restaurants fail?! Stubbornness is a cook quality because it means being a cook to your previous self—i.
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Or totally paralyze you and ruin your happiness! John Venn really pulled something off here. A Venn diagram is the most obvious possible kind of diagram, and somehow, John Venn convinced everyone he invented it. I now first hit upon the diagrammatical device of representing propositions by inclusive and exclusive circles. Of course the device was not new then, but it was so obviously representative of the way in which any one, who approached the subject from the mathematical side, would attempt to visualize propositions, that it was forced upon me almost at once.
This spectrum, of course, is also highly relevant in relationships. Twitter 0. Pinterest 0. And other higher education. Previous Post. Next Post. October 21, September 1, A decision point is a moment in the negotiation where your interlocutor wants to compel you to make a decision. If they succeed in tying you to a position, they will close the door on further negotiating. But it is the beginning of many attempts to get you to make a premature commitment.
This leads to rule 2 of negotiating: always keep the door open. This means your job is to traverse as many of these decision points as possible without giving up the power to continue negotiating. Rule 3 of negotiating: information is power. To protect your power in the negotiation, you must protect information as much as possible. It intentionally obfuscates those things.
But it wants you not to do the same.
A company wants to be like a bidder in a secret auction. But unlike the other bidders, it wants to know exactly how high all of the other bids are. It then openly intends to exploit that knowledge, often by bidding one cent more than the second highest bid. Yeah, no. Screw that. They might not know how good your other offers are, or how much you were making in your last job, or how you weigh salary vs equity, or even how rational you are as a decision-maker. Bottom line, you want them to be uncertain on exactly what it would take to sign you. In their mind, you could be any of the three.
There are some exceptions, but as a rule you should assume this. Companies will ask about your current compensation at different stages in the process — some before they ever interview you, some after they decide to make you an offer. But be mindful of this, and protect information. Think like the watermelon farmer. Staying positive is rule 4 of negotiation. This is because your excitement is one of your most valuable assets in a negotiation.
Each of those makes you less attractive as an investment. Remember, you are the product! Companies are terrified of that. Hence why they hire professional recruiters to manage the process and make sure they remain amicable. You and the recruiter share the same interest in that regard.
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This is a classic technique in customer support and remediation. This helps to defuse tension and give them more control of the situation. So take advantage of that. We have our first offer. Send a follow-up e-mail confirming all of the details you discussed with your recruiter so you have a paper trail. Next step is to leverage this to land other offers and find the best deal we can find in the job market. Just having an offer in hand will get the engine running. Try to build a sense of urgency. Regardless of whether you know the expiration date, all offers expire at some point, so take advantage of that.
Should you specifically mention the company that gave you an offer? No matter how hopeless or pointless you think your application is, you want to send this signal to everyone who is considering you in the market. None of the above. It is the oldest method in history to galvanize a marketplace — show that supplies are limited and build urgency.
Demand breeds demand.
Not every company will respond to this, but many will. When I wrote about the story of my own job search , I mentioned how having an offer from Google made companies turn around and expedite me through their funnels. Many commentators lamented at the capriciousness of these companies. What legitimately are they evaluating, if anything at all?
I think this response is totally backwards. The behavior of tech companies here is actually very rational, and you would do well to understand it. How do you figure out who will do that? Pedigree is the strongest signal; if they did it at other companies, they can probably do it at yours. But turns out, almost everything else is a weak signal. Interviews, if you think about it, are long, sweaty, uncomfortable affairs that only glancingly resemble actual employment.
So candidates as a whole have effectively forced companies to assume almost all of the risk in hiring. They care because each company knows that their own process is noisy, and the processes of most other companies are also noisy. But a candidate having multiple offers means that they have multiple weak signals in their favor. Combined, these converge into a much stronger signal than any single interview. They do. But caring about whether you have other offers and valuing you accordingly is completely rational.
And understand why this changes their mind about whether to interview you.