When I begin a course at NYU, where I teach Interviewing Strategies, the first thing I do is have my students answer a question on a note-card. That question is, “Why are you on the planet?” My request is usually followed by a brief moment of silence as my students nervously and curiously glance around the room at each other, wondering if they had heard the question right. Inevitably, one brave soul slowly inches his or her hand into the air to confirm what I wanted from them. Once the question is confirmed, they begin to address the task at hand and write down why they are on the planet. Some write vigorously while complaining that their isn’t enough room on the card, others write a couple of bullet points down and look at me like I’m the nutty professor, while others just sit there staring into space without any clue as to how to answer it. In truth, discovering the why of our choices from careers, to romance or where to live is a difficult task if authentically addressed. The reality is that we are all conditioned to believe in certain things based on information that we are given from “outside” influences like parents, religions, advertising, older sisters and brothers and the like. During an NYU class discussion, one student said that he was on the planet to make as much money as possible. I chuckled at his straightforward answer, but was grateful for his honesty. When I asked him why this was his goal, he just said that it is what he should do. I again asked him why, and after a brief silence, he admitted that he didn’t really know.
And herein lies the ultimate challenge that I face as a Career Consultant. It is not to say that one choice is necessarily better than another, but to guide whoever is in front of me to know why they have chosen their career. In doing so, they are instantly propelled into a more meaningful job. By answering the why, a person finds substance and meaning, even if they have discovered that they are not in the careers that they want. This awareness is valuable because it serves as a catalyst to change; either to find value in their current career or by changing careers. By the end of the seven weeks, the student mentioned above still wanted to make as much money as possible. Yet, he had changed his perspective and decided that along with that goal, he needed to develop deeper relationships as well in order to have fulfillment in that quest. I look forward to begining the discovery process with you soon.
Spend some time thinking about why you are on the planet.
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