Accidental lies I’ve told in interview or promotion conversations:
All of these statements were patently false.
(They’re also cringe-inducing, and exactly what my employers wanted to hear.)
I didn’t mean to lie when I said those things. The truth was: I had absolutely no idea what I really WAS passionate about, so I was throwing spaghetti against a wall and hoping something would stick.
…and I knew those particular spaghetti noodles would at least ensure I kept getting good reviews, a paycheck, and the outward appearance of a stable path – buying time while I floated around, lost and vaguely miserable on the inside.
I was in exactly the same boat as many of my clients, who say: “I CAN do just about anything. It’s overwhelming. What I actually WANT to do, though: no idea.”
Once in those jobs, I did well but was consistently exhausted, irritable, and itching for something more substantive. I normally love learning, so what really caught my attention was my intense disinterest in pursuing any extracurricular learning in the subject matter areas in which I was employed. I actively resented the notion that I should spend any more than 40 hours a week thinking about those topics.
Clearly my spaghetti-throwing approach of trial and error wasn’t getting me where I wanted to be – at least not on a time frame I found acceptable.
I finally realized I needed to start paying attention to what subjects and activities I naturally gravitated towards – and away from – instead.
Once I started paying attention, some patterns became abundantly clear:
As I retroactively graded the list of things I purported to be “passionate” about against this rubric of my natural interests and repulsions, I realized how wildly off target my previous job choices had been.
Once I had these insights, my career overhaul was dramatic. That’s not realistic or even desirable for a lot of people, and that’s ok.
But we do all need to at least know what we genuinely care about, in order to make more informed and aligned micro decisions.
We’re in option-overload territory. Every one of us needs a map, if we’re to avoid wrong turns.
So: if you have no idea what you’re into, and are just going along with what others want from you, start paying attention.
Notice where you find yourself spending your time and money for fun, and what you instinctively retract from. Get specific, then get more specific. Write down what you notice, and keep adding to it.
With some time and attention, this begins to form your map.