(Here is a PDF of Anjelica's profile if you prefer.)
Anjelica is a comic book illustrator for a large corporation that makes educational comics for students. She feels stifled by the conservatism of her company’s standards; it leaves little room for creativity, and is far-removed from the type of work she feels passionate about.
Assessing Her Trajectory
Anjelica, committed to changing her path, sits down with an assessment worksheet. She writes down the actions she most regularly takes, the purpose behind those actions, and what the likely consequence of those actions is five years down the road.
This what she comes up with:
Looking at her outcomes, she sees that she wastes a lot of time socializing with friends and during her commute. Although she wrote “Have better job” as the 5-year outcome, she knows she doesn’t want to spend most of those 5 years seeking out that better job. She wants that better job now. Applying to a job about once a week—competing with hundreds of people each time—isn’t going to cut it.
New knowledge in hand, Anjelica brainstorms her aspirations, making sure to dig deep and write everything that comes to mind. Here are some of them:
- Get a more creative, fulfilling job
- Buy a house
- Lose weight
- Sell comic I illustrate and write
- Learn how to design websites
- Learn latest version of new design software
- Try every cheese listed on the Wikipedia page for cheese
- Better understand political stuff
- Read more books
- Start using TextExpander to save time
Anjelica decides to place some of them in a Someday/Maybe list for the future and focus on a handful of them now.
Next, she conceptualizes the chosen aspirations as goals using the SMARTEST Method.
Here is how she applied the method to the aspiration of ‘Find a more creative, fulfilling job.’
Note how she changed her approach from applying to jobs to networking—she recognized that her current trajectory wasn’t giving her great odds and she adapted. Also note how the goal’s definition evolves as each element is considered (in italics.) This is an iterative process.
ASPIRATION: Find a more creative, fulfilling job
SPECIFIC: Get job with a smaller, less-conservative firm.
MEASURABLE: Expand network by talking to 20 people with connections to smaller, less-conservative firms.
ACHIEVABLE/AMBITIOUS: Expand network by talking to 30 people with connections to smaller, less-conservative firms.
RELEVANT: Expand network by talking to 30 people with connections to creative work within a firm or freelance.
TIME-BOUND: By the end of May, expand network by talking to 30 people with connections to creative work within a firm or freelance.
EPICTETUS/ENTIRELY IN YOUR CONTROL: By the end of May, expand network by reaching out to 30 people with connections to creative work within a firm or freelance.
SYNERGISTIC: By the end of May, expand network by reaching out to 30 people with connections to creative work within a firm or freelance… and make the process more efficient by learning and practicing TextExpander.
TRACTABLE: By the end of May-ish, expand network by reaching out to 30 people with connections to creative work within a firm or freelance.
Anjelica knows she has a lot of work ahead of her. She has to balance her job obligations, other life stuff, and pursuit of these new goals. But thankfully she’s not alone. She’s armed with several resources, some she isn’t even aware of. And, best of all, she figures out a bunch of ways to increase her resources at-hand.
After sitting down and completing a TEFLON Analysis, she feels much more confident.
Here’s what it looked like:
- Delete Instagram from phone.
- Only use Snapchat once a day.
- Check e-mail once in mid-morning and once in mid-afternoon.
- Reach out to 1 person every morning after work.
- “Why aren’t you on Instagram/Snapchat as much?” (“Because I’m not. Shut up.”)
- New season of Real Housewives. (Don’t watch it live. Save for binge after your goal is achieved.)
Most energy: Morning person!
Least energy: After work.
More energy after I… drink coffee or workout.
Less energy after I… watch TV, eat junk food, or hang out on Snapchat.
Opportunities: Oh! I shouldn’t contact someone after work. I should do it before work with my coffee!
- Don’t buy junk good.
- Cancel cable.
Best able to focus: When roommate isn’t home, with coffee in hand.
Least able to focus: When roommate is home and playing video games very loud.
- Try to do more work when roommate isn’t home and ask him to turn down the video games.
- Get more coffee.
- Consider going to coffee shop more often.
- Roommate just bought new Zelda game.
- Coffee machine on the fritz. (Let him borrow your headphones and buy new coffee machine.)
MOST DESERVING: Working on more of own designs. Requires time to get into the creative “zone” and it requires habitual sessions.
LEAST DESERVING: Reaching out to potential network connections—takes very little time and is monotonous.
- Wake up a little earlier and do an hour of more of own designs in the morning or during lunch break.
- Go to coffee shop on Saturday afternoons.
- Temptation to sleep in weekday mornings and skip Saturday sessions. (Use a smart alarm clock that wakes you up gently, minimizing the need to hit the snooze button. And… don’t skip the sessions.)
Current setup: Several post-it notes a day for to-do lists, pile on desk, and laptop desktop. E-mail inbox to keep track of stuff I need to do tomorrow or down the road.
Improving What Works: Use the post-it notes more systematically, only one or two a day.
Fixing What Doesn’t Work: Download a task management program like Omnifocus, learn how to use it, then move my e-mail tasks into it. Go through paperwork daily instead of letting it pile up. Organize documents on laptop desktop.
Moments: Few times a day, cannot act on project until receive clearance from supervisor, usually takes 10-15 minutes. Also, commute to work.
Actions Normally Do: Check e-mail, Instagram, or Snapchat.
- Waiting for clearance is about enough time to reach out to a possible network connection, freeing up time in the morning for designs or other, more impactful work.
- During commute, can think about/brainstorm my approach to possible connection.
MOST RESISTANCE: Talking to people in-person or asking someone for help. Anxiety!
LEAST RESISTANCE: Answering work e-mails. Easy!
NEEDS: Broadening my network requires both talking to people in-person and asking people for help.
- Start with the least anxiety-producing contacts, building confidence.
- Read inspirational literature.