The interview was about Twitter and tips for engagement and building that online profile that can help to land the next job, especially fresh out of college. But, this interview turned into something more than just advice on how to use one of the most popular social platforms and ended up being advice about life in general.
We took a trip down a philosophical path of chatting about what is important to humans and what makes us tick. The realization that no matter how much academia we may pile on top of ourselves, we still are basically the same as those who have travelled this path before us. We desire to achieve. We desire to be successful. We desire to utilize our skills and what we have learned. But, we also desire to be loved, and even more than that, to be validated for who we are.
Truth 1: Life is Unpredictable
No matter how much we plan out our lives, this truth remains. We cannot entirely control what happens. Control is more of a case of shades of gray. While it is true that if your bank account holds a couple of million dollars you may be able to control more facets of your life than the one who has two dollars, there is still a limit to how much you can control. It is sad but true that no matter how much education you acquire, you cannot control the outcome. But, in the same way that the couple million dollars helps, so that education puts you closer to success than without it. This then, helps you on a path that might be more predictable or attainable than it would be without the education.
Truth 2: Life Requires Balance
There is a desire to think that we can binge. It was effective (more or less) in college, to binge study as needed, especially before those big exams. Many times there were those all-nighters to finish papers, especially in graduate school. It is true that life allows us to binge at times. We can pull it off more easily when we are young, and especially before we add spouses, families, PTAs, community, and extra-curricular activities, not to mention a need for sleep.
However, one of those truths that rears its head is the need for balance. I remember hearing someone talk about creating a buffer in life, like allowing a 20% buffer that is not taken up with commitments or scheduled activities. Why the buffer? The buffer was there to absorb those last-minute needs. It was there to absorb the stress in life and unexpected events. This isn’t just about time, but also includes emotional energy and the ability to find enough balance and buffer so that the tough times (which will come) do not topple us.
Balance takes work. Before the work comes the decision to have balance in life. Balance includes relationship balance and work-life balance, too. It is a decision that needs to be made individually and after that, one can implement whatever strategies are necessary to achieve and maintain that balance (which may turn out to be a lifelong endeavor!).
Truth 3: Community Integration
As an extension of the balancing game, there is the community integration and the world around you. If your belief system is that it is all about you, then this may not be a truth that applies to you. However, since we tend to live in a world that involves other people, it is hard to live a life that does not involve some sort of interaction and integration with others.
There are different approaches that can be taken. Usually, avoiding people is not one that is effective. For example, picture avoiding your boss every time that he or she asks whether Project X has been completed. You probably would not retain your job if you practiced avoidance. So, some sort of strategy or philosophy in life helps to structure the HOW in interaction with other people.
In the video, below, Gary Loper talks about giving to people, regardless of whether that particular person will give back. His approach (a popular one) is that one gives and contributes to society and what “goes around will come around.” This is popular with those who believe in karma and those who follow a basic “golden rule” in their approach to other people.
Whether or not this is the approach that you believe in or chose to adopt, is up to you. The more key aspect about this truth is that unless you are a hermit that somehow has a job or income that does not involve other people, you will need to carve out how you decide to approach your interaction with other people and that balance about how much you give versus how much you take. You also need to understand that that approach has consequences.
Sometimes those consequences can be good and sometimes they may not be good. This is not really dependent on the belief system; it is more of a case of logic. For example, if you walk around believing that the world owes you, and that everything is about you, and literally pushing people (physically) out of your way because you feel you are like a god, well, there are potential negative consequences. You are not likely to have a lot of people who think that you are as wonderful as you think, yourself. Oh, there will be some that will view you as “strong” and “confident” and they may admire you. Many people will simply seek to avoid you (out of simple fear of being pushed over and suffering physical harm!).
Even doing “good” and performing kind acts can provide consequences that may not be desirable. An example is that you may be viewed as weak or treated as a doormat. You could even be overlooked by a boss, especially if they are the type described in the paragraph above.
So, the truth here is that generally speaking you WILL have interaction with other people. The key is to figure out how you want to interact and engage within your career. Don’t just copy the person next to you. Really figure out how you define your logic or belief system and how you choose to interact and then map that out for your strategy. Don’t be afraid to re-visit that, as needed, throughout your life and career. It isn’t like we figure it out all at once.
Putting It All Together
As you graduate and start to enter into your career and the rest of your life (or new life path), there are decisions that need to be made. Some are basic and tangible (where you live, where you work, who your significant other is or is not, etc.). Some are not as obvious, like the ones above. It helps to think about your approach to life. You don’t have to have it all figured out and you don’t have to commit to a life devoid of changing your mind, but understanding the analysis of these things will help to define your path, at least the intangible one.
Deborah Anderson has travelled many paths, from Chief Technology Officer in the Financial Industry (in Beverly Hills), to Director of Marketing for a not-for-profit health organization and host of a iHeart Radio marketing talk show. She is finishing up her degree in I/O Psychology while coaching clients and businesses on how to achieve effectiveness in the midst of success in their businesses.