Monday, February 28, 2005

Work-Life Unreadiness

Christopher has a great post about twentysomethings struggling to hit their stride, linking to this article -- a quote:
"We are in the midst of an epidemic of work-life unreadiness because an alarming number of emerging adults are unable to find a good fit between their minds and their career directions. Like seabirds mired in an oil spill, these fledgling men and women are stuck, unable to take flight toward a suitable career. Some are crippled before they have a chance to beat their wings; others have tumbled downward in the early stages of their trajectories. Because they are not finding their way, they may feel as if they are going nowhere and have nowhere to go."

Friday, February 18, 2005

Learning About Choices

Jory is living without a net, and thankfully she's sharing the experience with others. This week she asked a few fantastic questions about choices:
"What I meant was, living on-purpose is an acquired skill. In grade school, we’re taught Anatomy, but not Autonomy. The latter is a subject we experience later in life, when we feel the weight of bad choices pressing down on us and can’t quite make out where the pain is coming from. We’re taught to make cheaper choices, rational choices, quantifiably advantageous choices, hormonally driven choices, but where are we taught to make meaningful choices?"

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Parental Madness and Childcare Issues

Evan linked to this fantastic article from Newsweek: Mommy Madness, which is part of a series on The Myth of the Perfect Mother. Despite the focus on moms, I found that most of it could apply equally well to engaged fathers. Two companion articles are also well worth reading: The Good Enough Mother and Meet the Slacker Mom. The theme isn't new -- being a great parent is hard when you want to also have a solid career and some kind of life for yourself -- but there's more depth in these personal stories than most of the stuff I've read.

The recommendations at the end of the first article underline many of the points I've covered here before, and I thought two were especially worth repeating: the need for flexible, decent-paying part-time work and demands for affordable high-quality childcare that is flexible enough to be part-time or even drop-in.

The latter issue is hot in Canada right now, and I want to get into it here in the next month or so because it's loaded with lifestyle values. Here's an article to get things rolling, and an admission (startling to me): for the first time in my adult life, I find myself aligned with the right-wing party's stance on a major political issue. Instead of spending billions on institutionalized daycare like the Liberals are planning, the Conservatives would rather spend the money (or give tax breaks) to let parents choose how they want their kids cared for, which should include giving them the same amount of money to care for them at home.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Workaholic's Choice

Jory offers some insight and great questions about ambition in The Workaholic's Choice, a post about a workaholic consultant profiled in Fast Company:
"I wasn’t sure what to make of this article; was FC trying to lionize this man for his self-sacrificing attitude towards work? A father of six children, four of them special-needs kids adopted from three different countries, you have to wonder why he bothered creating such a complex life outside of his work, as he had no time for it.

Perhaps it’s the context du jour of work-life balance —- or, more accurately, work-life meaning —- that colors my bias. I fully believe that Stalk is smart, brilliant even, but is he wise? And, in the end, does the smartest man meet his maker with any more fanfare than the rest of us?"
It's true that we tend to respect people (on some level, anyway) for pursuing something with passion. Even when it's not something we would be interested in pouring ourselves into, there's something compelling about seeing someone else take it all the way. But what if that person is sacrificing the rest of their life for that passion, even though they might say that their marriage and kids and friendships are as important to them? Maybe that's what the Tragically Hip were singing about in Vapour Trails: "But there's nothing uglier than a man hitting his stride".

Monday, February 07, 2005

Planful Competence

Doug had a great post today about Owning Your Future, in which he shares the results of a longitudinal study (PDF) measuring the value of being "planful". I've always hated that word for whatever reason, but the results are fascinating. Doug's summary:
"Their research found that, ‘planful competence is a powerful predictor of an adolescent’s plans and their adult achievement in schooling and work.' The study defines ‘planful competence’ as a combination of ‘sense of mastery’ (a belief in yourself), ‘knowledge about the broader world of work’ (expanded career awareness), ‘scholastic aptitude’ (the skills), and ‘plans about the timing and extent of future attainment’ (defined intent). The paper goes on to state, 'Adolescents with a purposeful orientation towards life, combined with general and practical knowledge, have more ambitious career plans, more stable plans in young adulthood, and greater educational and occupational achievements by midlife.'