One of the most important decisions we make in life has to do with career. In some societies one’s lifework is assigned early in life. “You are going to be the baker, you will be the canoe builder, and you will be the cobbler.” There are those who have always known from childhood the path that would be their passion throughout their lives. Among these have been the well-known and famous, as well as little-known artists, mathematicians, surgeons, politicians, scientists, and many others. But they are the exception, not the norm.
Most people are more general and ambivalent about their career path. Some of us land in positions that suit us well through a combination of planning, tenacity, or sheer luck and coincidence. Some of us lead lives full of frustration and unfulfilled longing because we find ourselves in careers that are not in sync with our brain’s own innate advantage.
Take me, for example. I never thought I would own and operate a business, but that is what I’ve done for the past 20 years. Initially I thought I’d do it for just a few years until I figured out what I really wanted to do. Being an entrepreneur was very appealing because I loved the flexibility and the option of not having to be in any one place for the entire workday. I also loved the idea of being my own boss. I soon learned that instead of having just one boss I have many bosses, although I call them clients.
Some things about being self-employed have been easy, such as thinking up new ideas and ways to do things. But then I soon realized I was never satisfied with the new way and was always coming up with another new way or another new thing. (It tended to drive the people I work with crazy!) And I couldn’t understand why I would procrastinate seemingly easy tasks. You know what I mean. The tasks that must be done again and again. Then there was the schmoozing, marketing, and networking which my brain really hated, although I could do them passably well. Fortunately, my business partner is great at most of the things I’m not!
When I attended The Brain Seminar presented by Dr. Arlene Taylor, I began to understand for the first time why some seemingly simple things are so difficult for me. My natural brain lead is right-frontal, so it takes more of my brain’s energy to do routine tasks—–tasks that would be much easier for a person with a left-basal lead. Although I can be very sociable at times, my brain is basically introverted. Now it became clear why I dislike selling and promoting! And since my sensory preference is visual, I know why I tend to see everything that isn’t up to the standards I prefer.
Since learning more about brain function in general, and my brain in particular, I’ve decided to identify tasks that take up too much energy, and have been looking for people who are happy to do the things that are difficult for my brain. Having those portions of my business handled by individuals who naturally like routine and order is my biggest priority. That way, I can continue to think of new ways to do things because I’m delegating basal-left tasks to those who not only enjoy doing them but do them much more easily!
Prior to attending The Brain Seminar, I really thought that something was wrong with me. I couldn’t seem to work steadily on one project. I was always getting a new idea and veering off in a new direction. Now I’ve accepted the premise that every individual’s brain is unique. Mine happens to love exploring new ideas even if they seem to have no practical value at the moment.
I’m trying to figure out how to spend at least 51% of my time doing things that are energy-efficient and easy for my brain. This isn’t always a snap for right-brainers! Most of the careers that one can make a living from in our society are more attuned to left-brain functions.
So I’ve started an ongoing list of the activities that energize me. I want to see if I can discover a way to make my business work better for my brain or if I really need to make a complete change (e.g., consider selling the business sometime in the next year). I’m not there yet. This is a process, and time will tell. The good news is that I definitely understand myself better now, and have some tools to help me make these decisions by design.