Deep Dives and Short Stints

By Michael Roderick  -  On 11 May, 2015 -  0 comments

After reading my friend Mattan’s article about how to be a morning person, I purchased the app called Sleep cycle. If you’ve never used it, it’s an app that monitors your sleep throughout the night and wakes you up when you’re at the end of a sleep cycle rather than the beginning. In the morning you get to see a graph of how you slept throughout the night. As I was looking at my journey of rest this morning, I started to think about how these same cycles often apply to the idea of making choices in career paths.

I often meet with people who are feeling stuck or lost. In many cases they just left a job they were at for some time or they just got out of school and are trying to figure out what to do next. The thing I hear most often from them is that they feel pulled in many different directions and they aren’t sure what to commit to. They’re also often worried that they’ll commit to the wrong thing and if they don’t like it, feel like they wasted their time. Having navigated many careers myself, I can understand the fear of getting stuck doing something you don’t want to do and also feeling like that time was wasted.

The interesting thing is that the only thing that really wastes your time is inaction.

When you first go to bed, you are in a stage where it is pretty easy to wake up. If you stay in this part of the sleep cycle you’ll get a really poor night’s sleep. The same applies to the job search or the “what do I want to do with my life” question. The longer you spend debating pros and cons, the less data you have that is useful. So the worst thing to do is spend days or months debating what step you want to take. You need to get to phase two as quickly as possible.

The next phase of sleep is when your heart rate begins to slow down and your sleep gets more focused. For someone choosing a career path, this is when you may start to map out options. You may write a list of things that you enjoy doing and jobs that could be a fit for you. This is also something that you want to spend a short amount of time on and not get stuck. Remember that doing is what creates data, so be careful of spending too much time mapping things out and imagining what it will be like to work in a certain field. As soon as you have taken some time to put some ideas together, get yourself to the next phase.

The third phase is what’s referred to as deep sleep. This is the time where you are starting to get quality rest that will help you recharge and rejuvenate. You take a really deep dive into your rest and move into the fourth stage in which you dream. The interesting thing is that this deep dive doesn’t last that long. You eventually start to rise back up to the earlier stages. In most cases you go through multiple cycles in a night and the more quality sleep you get the more rested you feel. The way this applies to the job search or career choice is that it’s ok to do a deep dive for a short stint of time. Meaning take a week or a month to meet everyone you can in the industry you’re interested in, study as much of that world as possible and get as much of a sense of immersion in that industry as you can. Then reflect on the experience and ask if that world resonates with you and what you want to do. If not, that’s totally cool. You can go right back up and move into another cycle. Take as many deep dives as you need since you won’t be spending that long on any of them and you’ll always be getting new information that will help you make your decision.

Your next step is in your hands, but if you spend all of your time worrying about the decision that you make, you’ll have wasted the entire night with your head on the pillow.

Close your eyes and focus.

Don’t be afraid of diving deep.

It’s where all the answers are.

Sweet dreams.