Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Procrastination as Work

I am back in Senegal, and after two weeks of traveling essentially alone for my job, I had a lot of time to think about what I'm doing now and what I want to be doing longterm. There's something about doing work that makes you slightly uncomfortable and pushes you out of your comfort zone; it keeps me challenged and constantly evaluating what I want to do and how I see myself utilizing my more natural skills in the future. I'm grateful that I will never grow complacent in this position! (I can't; it makes me too uneasy!)

At a technical demonstration in RCI... a fun part of my job! And no, this wasn't really a candid picture ;)

Please bear with me as I analyze my job and potential future career. This post is a bit of stream of consciousness--and a long one at that, but its helpful for me to write about it and work through my strengths and weaknesses to gain a better idea of what I'm drawn to professionally.

First I read this quote from Ben Silbermann, founder of Pinterest, and it got me thinking: 
"The work you do while you’re procrastinating is probably the work you should be doing." 

Well, that means I should be considering these as options for making a living:
  • Pinning interior designs I covet
  • Planning design/craft projects I never follow through on
  • Watching TV (yikes!)
  • Reading blogs about other peoples' lives, especially lives that are intriguing to me because they are so different from my own (...stalking?)
  • Blogging about travel/design/culture
  • Organizing and planning for upcoming trips
  • Making To Do lists I never complete

Sometimes, I procrastinate aspects of work I don't want to do (calling people, face to face meetings, writing reports) with aspects of work I don't mind so much. That list would include:
  • Creating new excel sheets to organize information/data, especially to calculate different potential outcomes
  • Spending hours tweaking excel sheets/databases so they are p.e.r.f.e.c.t. and aesthetically pleasing
  • Researching different topics and organizing the information I find in said excel sheets
  • Translating documents (I do not enjoy this, but it is brainless)

These lists were fun to make because they do point to certain things I really enjoy: organizing and planning via excel and other electronic means (hello, google docs/drive!), whether it be for pleasure or work. This is kind of surprising because I didn't think of organizing data as one of my main callings, but come to think of it- I do gain sick pleasure from sorting information! 

But, I have other strengths and interests that don't really figure on these lists, including writing (just not dry reports) and human contact that is more akin to therapy/helping people than business interaction. My current job is very sales-driven, and this consistently puts me out of my comfort zone, which I do believe is a good thing for me right now! But I always find myself feeling "bad" for business partners we can't really work with, or just generally forming emotional connections with our clients, rather than viewing things from the pragmatic viewpoint that most successful business people rely on. 

I don't think a pragmatic or logics-based approach is bad at all, but it does not come naturally to me. I enjoy reading Penelope Trunk's career blog and it led me to take the Jung and Briggs Myers personality test. I fall under the INFP, or "Idealist" category, and I found some of the following quotes very applicable to me. In particular I have a "distinctive" preference of Feeling over Thinking (haha)--but it explains why the business approach is not so well suited for me!
  • The INFP is driven to help people and make the world a better place (I'm not the next Mother Theresa, but this is still true to an extent)
  • INFPs are good listeners and put people at ease.
  • INFPs do not like conflict, and go to great lengths to avoid it. If they must face it, they will always approach it from the perspective of their feelings... INFPs make very good mediators, and are typically good at solving other people's conflicts... (Very true for me)
  • INFPs do not like to deal with hard facts and logic. Their focus on their feelings and the Human Condition makes it difficult for them to deal with impersonal judgment. (To a degree...)
  • They may be awkard and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally (insert deathly fear of spontaneous or unscripted public speaking), but have a wonderful ability to define and express what they're feeling on paper. INFPs also appear frequently in social service professions, such as counselling or teaching. They are at their best in situations where they're working towards the public good, and in which they don't need to use hard logic. (In a nutshell.)
Like I said, I think its a valuable lesson for me to be forced to be more upfront, pragmatic, in a position of leadership. But, deep down, I don't think these business interactions really play on my strengths. I want my next job, or the next degree I choose to pursue, to build a specific skill-set that is more people-oriented and focused on agency building. I want this skill set I develop to be working towards helping people, rather than marketing a product/service. I don't think I can ever by passionate about a product, no matter how life changing it is. I think I would be a good counselor, but I would also enjoy a job that includes writing, research, and organizing data. And I would like to make some money, while also finding my job fulfilling. So what is something that would encompass all of these goals and skills? Help me out people!

And it goes without saying I know my passions: Human Rights (especially for women, children, and refugees) and African Studies! Plus, design and travel :)

Career suggestions, anyone? Also, take the Jung and Briggs Myers personality test... its fun and informative!

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