The Path to Professional Fulfillment – Using Your VIPS

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Do you want to find a job that you will love?  If so, the key to is first discovering where your Values, Interests, Personality and Skills (VIPS) intersect. The self-awareness you will gain from getting to know these areas will help you make decisions that will lead you towards your career goals. Each decision you make may change the course of your professional path.  The key is to have confidence that each decision is the right one for you in that moment of your life.  The more awareness you have of your VIPS, the stronger your sense of self will be, which will guide your decision making toward professional

So how can you learn more about your own VIPS?   One way is to truly pay attention to how you feel with each decision you make, each opportunity you experience.  Is the feeling “right’?  If not, can you identify the reason why it is not? There are many opportunities to make different kinds of decisions.  With each decision you can learn a bit about yourself and to understand that the choices you make are deliberate and worthwhile. Each decision brings you to the next immediate step which will present opportunities you may not have considered.

Another way is through assessments. Yes, there are assessments you can take through the Career Development office that will help you develop a stronger understanding of these four areas of yourself and provide you with a much greater awareness of the following key areas necessary for professional fulfillment.  The four areas to consider are:

  1. Your values and how they were shaped.
  2. Incorporating your interests into a future career.
  3. The type of environment that would be a good fit for your personality.
  4. The skills you will want to use in your future job (not what you are good at, but what tasks you would want to perform).

In a sense, taking one or more assessment is a bit like taking a shortcut to self-discovery.

The people I meet now who love their jobs have found professional fulfillment.  They are energized by their work.  Someone said to me once that to truly understand if you love your job is to ask yourself, what parts of my job would I do for free and for which parts do I need to get paid.  Some of these people had a plan that they followed because perhaps they had started out with a bit more self-awareness.  But others have learned to recognize when their Values, Interests, Personality or Skills were not a match for that particular place or role and made a change.

My advice?  Try something, and reflect.  Ask yourself… does this fit in with my values?  Does this interest and energize me? Am I enjoying this?

Then, when the answers to these questions become “no”…

Make a decision, make a change.  This is scary, it’s effort, and it’s a possible risk.  Again, think about where the risk can take you and how much better your life will be.  Also ask yourself what the risk will be if you choose what might be the easier path and accept your circumstances.

If you repeat these steps with every new experience you will eventually know intellectually and intuitively what feels right and that is where you will grow and flourish.  The self-awareness you will gain by taking one or more assessments will help determine if the path you are on is the right one for you.  If not, your assessment results will serve as your virtual compass that will guide you.  This is how you will develop your VIPS.  If each decision you make is truly the right one in that moment, it will be just one step in a series that will ultimately lead you to your goal –professional fulfillment.  Right now you may not know what that will look like.  And that’s OK.

*Contact the Career Development office to learn more about the different self-assessments we offer.

E-Calendar or Paper Planner: A Comparison

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We all have our favorite way to planning our hectic lives, whether it be on a paper planner or an online calendar. Or if you’re me, it’s both! I use Google Calendar (as well as just about every other function Google offers) for my online calendar and a Passion Planner for planning on paper. They offer different options and I’m going to outline some differences between the two.

Society is moving greatly to a fully electronic record nowadays. Its scary, but it sort of works, which is wonderful. I find my online calendar very useful as I can always access it, don’t have to worry about carrying it around, and can easily repeat events instead of writing them in every week. However, probably my favorite aspect of an electronic calendar is the ability to block off times. For instance, if I’m working from 7am-3pm, I can’t really plan anything during then, so having this type of layout allows me to see my available and busy times. As someone who tends to be on the busier side, seeing my free time is a breath of fresh air that I didn’t exactly find in a paper planner.

Paper planners come in all different shapes, sizes, and forms. The one I use has space to make to-do lists, note-taking space, goals for the week, and so much more. It’s meant to plan your life in a more goal-orientated manner, which works really well when I have plenty of projects to do. However, it’s not the best layout for planning all of my time.

That’s why I use both. I have one to plan my time and one to plan my projects and outline my weekly tasks. Having them separate allows me to make sure it all matches up and gives me options depending on the task at hand. For work tasks and projects, I tend to use paper planners, as I usually have projects and tasks to do. For scheduled shifts and class times, an online calendar is my best friend.

So, use one, use two, use none, it’s your choice! I do recommend using at least one as planning your day-to-day activities is crucial to staying on top of your tasks.

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Do you have a ‘Plan Z’?

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This post was authored by Manuj Goyal, on Co-op in India. notes-514998_1920Evolution is a fundamental aspect of life on Earth and I believe a key principle in the road to success. Having the ability to adapt, to think on one’s feet, and to find opportunities when all plans you have fall apart is even more essential in the country of India where chaos seems to be the driving factor of all life. In a place with such a long history, a place where so much innovation and discovery has and does occur, a place where so many people coexist harmoniously, it is sometimes difficult to fathom how things happen smoothly considering the seemingly haphazard and chaotic progression of events in any situation.

Earlier in my coop journey in India, I traveled the state of Rajasthan in collaboration with the Department of Information Technology and Communication as well as the Department of Planning. Learning about and analyzing rural conditions, farming techniques, and common mindsets, I gained clarity on the direction my product development and my overall project. I began to narrow down and define the exact area of the agricultural and farming process which I wanted to make more efficient and easier and began creating a plan with goals to develop this product.

Before diving deep into product development though, I decided to head to a small farm where volunteers from all around the world came to learn about permaculture, and agricultural technique based on the mindful usage of resources and careful integration of the environment with agricultural processes. Permaculture has been used throughout the world and due to its foundation in basic principles of agriculture rather than specific techniques, it is effective in a variety of environments. This institute and center of innovation and learning was an ideal place for me to refine my design parameters and gauge the possibilities of success of a technical product in a rural agricultural setting. The farm also offered a unique setting with limited access and resources as it is three kilometers, about 2 miles, up a mountain from the nearest town, a town with only tea shops and limited supplies. The closest major town is more than thirty minutes by a local bus and so the environment and setting was ideal for planning and analyzing the development of a product.

Things sound too good to be true, don’t they? A few days before I was meant to head to the farm from Rajasthan, riots and civil unrest broke out near New Delhi, the city I had to connect through in order to get to the farm. The government shut down all road and railway travel entering Delhi from the Rajasthan direction and cornered me into staying put where I was. So my options became to either change my plans or take a 400 dollar flight to a city approximately nine hours by bus from the farm or take an 800 dollar, 24 hour travel time flight to a city approximately two hours from the farm. I decided that it might be best to postpone my trip to the farm but with no way of knowing when the unrest would end or if it would spread to other parts of the country, my project teetered on a precarious edge of collapsing completely.

But using the resources I had available to me, I reconnected with my collaborators, advisors, and mentors and quickly came up with a Plan Z since Plan A and Plan B and pretty much every other plan had fallen apart. Instead of forcing my way to the farm and potentially endangering my project further, I spent some time in Rajasthan looking further into the infrastructure and agricultural difficulties within the state. After this it was time to head to Delhi in March where 3.5 million people were meeting up to celebrate all cultures, diversity, and spiritual living at the Art of Living’s World Culture Festival. Together we meditated and celebrated for three days while discussing leadership and innovation at the Global Youth Leadership Forum. After a silent retreat in Bangalore with thousands of leaders from around the world and a week-long service project in a village in Orissa, I finally got the ability to travel to the farm.

I write this blog post from a small farm on the side of a mountain, three kilometers from the nearest town. The food is prepared on a fire stove, the water comes from a river a kilometer away, clothes are washed by hand, running water works because of gravity, electricity comes from the sun. Rural life can seem fantastical, picturesque, otherworldly, and simple. The fact of the matter is that getting into the rural mindset, living the rural life, farming at a rural scale on the side of a mountain is not easy. In the west and in urban areas throughout the world, electricity, food, water, clean housing, and many other faculties are often taken for granted. I work here in India to bring these same faculties to the people who support the rest of the world by feeding us and taking care of the natural world that allows us to be alive and enjoy life on Earth. My hope is that through the technical skills I have and through the lessons I’ve learned in India, I can inspire others to also give back and find ways to celebrate the simple things in life. I hope that my posts inspire you to join this celebration, to speak up for nature, to give back in whatever way you can.