From nowhere to now/here

One of the major highlights of my year in 2019 was the opportunity to go to Finland. And there were so very many things to appreciate, but something that particularly delighted me was the Finnair NOW/HERE campaign that set the tone for my trip:

Nordic happiness is an experience of being one — with nature, with others, with time. It’s about getting lost and finding yourself. Because sometimes you have to travel to nowhere to be now here.

The concept of being now/here struck me as absolutely essential to career exploration. If you are truly allowing yourself to be radically curious and explore, of course you are going to lose your bearings, you haven’t been here before: no one has!

You are doing the important work of being now/here!

Career can be an intensely anxious proposition. We all want to do something that brings meaning and purpose to our lives and for many of us, work will be a primary means through which we seek to make a difference in the world. So we add pressure, feeling like there is a great deal riding on the decisions that we make about career, especially at times of transition (just starting out, changing jobs, changing careers, or simply contemplating any of the above). And while I want to acknowledge the anxiety — it is all too real — at the same time, we can’t let it get in the way of the task at hand. And it certainly will if we let it.

We need to let it be.
And be
where we are,

We can’t possibly know what is coming down the pike, and we can’t change what is past, so the task is to stay present, figure out which of the opportunities currently in front of us we would like to pursue. AND if there are no opportunities in front of us, how to stir some up. Even if we do have opportunities, it’s probably always a good idea to be stirring them up

And since this is something that we are going to be figuring out for our entire working lives, I offer five practices now for being here, starting with Gratitude.


Now, certainly I’m not the only one talking about gratitude, but there is a very real place for such a practice when it comes to career. No matter where you are, someone helped you get here. Someone in your community (who you know or don’t know yet) inspired you with their work or their words, in any one of a million ways. So why not share some gratitude with them? In Bringing Linguistics to Work I talk about the gracious note, basically just taking some time to send some appreciative thoughts to someone — maybe someone whose article you used recently which helped you build an argument. That’s actually how I met Camilla Vasquez, who has a new book out: Language, Creativity and Humour Online thanks Camilla for your excellent scholarship!!

And just like that, you have already begun the next practice: honoring community.

Honoring Community

For most of us, our networks will be how we find most of our professional opportunities moving forward. And I love to talk about networking (catch me on episode lucky #13 the Coffee and Cocktails podcast) but there is good reason to share some love for networking, including that it is in need of reclaiming because so many people seem to be doing it wrong. Networking in a way that honors community is not just about now, it is about building trust and trusting. It is about sharing, and it is about being generous. When we invest in building and supporting our community now, we help ourselves. Start with the people who currently surround you. If you are a student, think about what you can do to support and connect with your classmates.

One reason that your community are of inestimable value to you is that they are in a better position than you are to notice the patterns in the ways that your gifts and ways of thinking and working tend express themselves, which brings me to the next strategy….

Noticing Patterns

Pattern-recognition in community is behind the design of the Mighty Network (take our work sessions as an example — your community can help you bring forward your strengths, identify the little stumbling blocks that present challenges to you so that you can anticipate and not get so tripped up by them), it is why we share stories around the campfire in Career Camp. We cultivate the story listening abilities of your fellow campers so that they can help you hear (and amplify) the patterns that are expressing your superpowers!

Be generous

I advocate for a mindfulness practice that I call an hour a week on LinkedIn, where — especially if you are in an intense period of career anxiety – I suggest you look for ways to pay it forward. Who in your community is on LinkedIn asking for something? (“help me spread the word about ___”, etc.) with whom might you share a resource that you just came across in your newsfeed? Who might benefit from a connection or an opportunity right now? Who could you check-in on to ask directly if they need anything from you?

Get on out there and share stories!

If you are one to make resolutions, consider where you might build some career practices into your year.

I’m setting an intention to seeking out two career conversations a week and two meetings (networking events or conferences) a month. In Designing Your Life, they describe opportunities as being the result of approximately 25 connections. Following this formula, my activities would stand to generate about 5 opportunities a year, which seems to be about right: One for me, four for my community….what’s your plan?

And here’s to what’s next!

Interactional sociolinguist and story listener.