I cannot overstate the importance of taking the time and making the effort to work your way in writing through all the self exploratory exercises in the next several pages. You may think you know yourself and what you want very well, or you may think that you can think your way through the exercises without bothering to do any writing. But I'm willing to bet your thinking is wrong if these are the thoughts now crossing your mind.
Writing reveals themes and patterns that no amount of pure thinking or talking with others can uncover. Writing also forces thoughts and feelings to become more articulate and clearer than talking to one's self or to others. Finally, writing produces a record of thought and feeling to which you can return later to refresh your memory or to chart your progress.
As you write your way through the exercises, you will not only come to know yourself better but also refine your skills as a writer skills, that are valuable in any managerial or professional capacity. In addition, you will be preparing yourself for the self promotional tasks inseparable from job hunting: some of the phrasing you generate as you do the exercises will doubtless find use in your resume(s), cover letters, and job related conversations. The more carefully and thoroughly you complete the exercises, the better able you will be to anticipate and respond to questions about your background, skills, and motivation. Last but not least, the exercises will help you build commitment to a particular career move, and as your commitment grows, you will become more convincing to potential employers.
So, stop reading for a while and start writing! The Self Exploration Kit
Before tackling these exercises, get yourself a notebook or folder for storing the material you produce.
Exercise: Chronological Career Review
Introduction: The chronological career review provides a convenient format for recalling and recording your career of learning and labor, primarily in terms of accomplishments. This focus helps you explore what you value and what values have been stressed in your upbringing, education, and experience; as well, it prepares you for emphasizing accomplishments in job search documents and conversations.
Objective: To create, a vocational data base, for use in subsequent self exploration activities and as an aid in constructing or revising your resume.
Materials: Several sheets of paper; many sharpened pencils; a ruler; previous versions of your resume and other documents helpful in recalling dates, places, and activities; a phone for contacting family members and friends who can help you recall precollege activities, achievements, and failures.
Approximate time to complete: 3 to 30 hours, depending on your age, the number of transitions and activities in your life, the detail with which you chronicle your life, and the number of other people you decide to consult.
Method: Divide a large sheet of paper into columns. The time intervals into which you divide your life are not critical; some people prefer five year intervals, while others prefer intervals of varying lengths that correspond to major periods and transitions in their lives. You will probably recall more recent experiences in the greatest detail, so you may want to group them into shorter intervals than your earlier experiences.
You need not start this exercise with the beginning of your life you may prefer to work from your most recent years backwards or to work in both directions from the middle of your life. If you recall little or nothing from the first 5 to 10 years of life, you might want to solicit help from family members. The following topics of discussion may be helpful in reconstructing your earliest years:
- How was your name chosen?
- What were your first words, and when did you utter them?
- When did you learn to walk?
- When did your toilet training start and how did you react to it?
- When did you learn to write your name and who taught you?
- When did you start school or preschool?
- When did you start getting report cards and how were your grades?
- Did early teachers make any memorable comments about your behavior or personality?
- Did any significant births or deaths take place in your family during your first five years?
- When did you learn to read and what did you like reading?
- How much TV were you allowed to watch and what were your favorite programs?