07 May Playing Around With Career Choices
Career Choices: Playing Around With Who You Could Be
One of my favourite psychological theories and career tools is Possible Selves, which allows us to play around with career choices. I’ve written about it previously here, but basically it says that we have an infinite number of Possible Selves. These are versions of ourselves that we could choose to be. For instance, there is Paula Gardner the career coach. However, I could equally choose to be Paula Gardner the full time writer, or Paula Gardner the world traveller. Or I could have stayed as Paula Gardner, the PR practitioner if I gone back to University to retrain in psychology.
We all have daydreams about our Possible Selves. Some of them may be a bit far-fetched (Paula the spy or circus performer, for instance). Some of them may already be appearing on your horizon as real possibilities: future career choices in fact. The trick is to start identifying them.
Finding My Possible Self
The trigger that sent me back to University to retrain in psychology was a conversation I had had on a date. I had met a man who was a psychologist training to be a barrister. This prompted me to mention that I had long imagined there was another Paula. She was a psychologist, who was living a parallel life to my own. My date pushed me on this, inquiring why I wasn’t doing anything about it, when it as clearly something I would love to pursue. That one conversation pushed that Possible Self into the foreground and set me on my journey to where I am today, advising people on career choices and change from a psychological perspective.
So, how can you uncover your Possible Selves?
Questions to ponder
- What did you enjoy doing as a teenager or as a child?
- If you could do anything and get paid for it, what would it be?
- If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
- Which of your friends’ careers do you most envy, and why?
- What alternative career has always called to you?
Playing with Career Choices
The reason I love Possible Selves so much is that it is such a fun exploration. You don’t have to suddenly sit up straight and decide, hey, I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer so that’s what I am going to do now. Your Possible Self is just that, a possibility, and all it needs is some gentle exploration. If you do have a hankering to change into a career in law, how can you test it out without committing to anything? You could talk to some friends of friends about their work. Maybe, you could research law career websites. Alternatively, why not could check out the studying and exams involved. You could shadow a lawyer for a day. All these will allow you to see if it’s right for you.
The important bit is to keep the intention playful at the moment. You don’t want to frighten yourself into retreat. What you are doing is both gathering information and getting a feel for just one of your Possible Selves. Quite often, with a little gentle digging, we realise that we don’t want to do another five years of study, or move to the nearest big city where the jobs are. However, sometimes, just sometimes, there will be a Possible Self that, once picked up, won’t let you go.
If you’d like to explore your Possible Selves with me, contact me to book a call now.