Today’s blog post was created by asking the Potentialists community what advice they would give to current students on how to create their careers. This could range from the process of finding work, to attitudes to approach the job market.

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Wrong Choices


Yesterday, I had a chance to present an opening keynote for a University of Toronto graduate student conference on Creating Careers. Today, I want to share some of the thoughts I shared in my speech, including the people who inspired some of the ideas:


1. We have all had times in our lives when we didn’t know what we were going to do next. Let go of any figurative pressure you have to figure it all out, and give it time to make sense.  Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places.  Sometimes the detours end up being the most breathtaking parts.


2. Don’t wait for permission to be your best self. No one can give this to you except yourself.


3. Take your time; don’t settle for something you don’t want to do.  Be honest with yourself and listen to your inner whispers.  If you aren’t true to yourself, then it takes a long time to find something you love and you’ll go nowhere being stuck in a job you hate. (inspired by Eland)


4. Take risks, try new things, and stop planning so much.  Actually DO things to learn about yourself.


5. Notice the sparks.  Monitor what is working for you and what isn’t working for you, and make choices accordingly.  The things that you’re passionate about make you lose track of time, you can pour your energy into doing them without feeling drained, and the activities themselves light you up and use the skills you’re the best at.


6. Education is the tool.  Not your degree.  Explore things beyond school.  Invest in your personal development, develop transferable skills, and get involved in clubs or volunteer for organizations that you’re interested in. (inspired by Anice)


7. Loving where you work and whom you work with matters a lot.  Find a company with a culture that rings true to how you want to work and interact with others.


8. Have an idea of where you want to be in a few years and then choose an organization where you can learn as much as you can. Lot of people choose a company or organization because it looks good on their CV, but sometimes you get more responsibility and learning experiences in a smaller or less well-known company. (inspired by Jorien)


9. Stop thinking about WHAT you want to do, and start asking questions like how do you want to live, what kind of impact do you want to make and what do you want to leave behind. This changes the perspective from the WHAT to the WHY.  The WHAT might give you some money and material success, but doing things in line with your WHY gives you fulfillment and energy. (inspired by Jonathan)


10. People hire in large part based on your attitude; on the job skills can be learned.  Will your colleagues enjoy being around you, want to collaborate with you, trust you to drive projects to completion, and be comfortable being stuck in an airport with you on a business trip? (inspired by Benoit)


11. When you graduate, be willing to start at the beginner’s level. You can’t know everything beforehand. Throw your hat in, and learn on the fly. You might have to study at night to learn new concepts or prep for work the next day, but the key question is whether you’re committed to doing this. (inspired by Scott)


12. Learn how to network. Don’t approach networking as a way to find a job. Instead focus on how to be unforgettable; when people like you, they are more likely to remember you, and more likely to help you.  Opportunities will present themselves.


13. Do informational interviews to get a sense of how people got to where they are now. People want to help, share their stories, and support you.


14. Develop your story telling ability. Every interview, pitch, and sales call is an opportunity to tell the world who you are and what you believe. (Mohamed)


15. Host or Attend Dream Circle – I have hosted 20 Dream Circles in Toronto this past year, and presented a TEDx speech on it this summer. The concept is simple: What if you hosted a potluck, invited friends in your network who don’t know each other, and everyone shared a goal they’re working on, where they were at, and everyone offered ideas, resources, and connections to support one another. If you don’t want to organize one, I’m hosting a Dream Circle later this month so stay tuned for more info on how to attend.


Reconnectfully Yours,