Try something speculative

Routines are great. They can make good habits automatic, and make life feel doable — especially now!

But doing the same thing over and over again tends to lead to the same results. And sometimes that can lead to the feeling of being stuck in a rut.

As I am doing interviews about The New Corner Office, one frequent question I get is about how remote workers can think big about their careers. In the absence of copious face time (a stupid proxy for ambition in any case) how can work-from-home types land new opportunities and take their careers to the next level?

One idea: Start a speculative project. Often, these can generate a lot of movement in the universe, leading to new opportunities.

In my world (non fiction book writing) such projects happen all the time. People try a new habit each week, or send dozens of thank you notes, or try not to throw anything away for a year…and then write about it.

Not everyone is aiming for a book deal. And “stunt journalism” is probably past its peak. But many people would like a better network, new job leads, or to get more visibility within an organization.

There are plenty of speculative projects that might help here too. What happens if you do a double opt-in introduction every day for two months? What happens if you grab coffee (virtual or in-person) with a new person each Friday? What happens if you film yourself giving humorous answers to your company’s most frequently asked IT questions? What happens if you commit to meeting with four mentees weekly for a year?

I have no idea. But this much activity tends to lead to something. And sometimes that something can give your career quite a boost. And maybe lead to some new friendships too. It takes time, but probably not a tremendous amount of time. So it might be worth a shot.

In other news: Speaking of projects! My Best of Both Worlds co-host, Sarah Hart-Unger, just launched a new podcast called Best Laid Plans. This show covers all things planners and planning. I’m really looking forward to adding this to my listening rotation!

Photo: You never know what’s over the horizon…

6 thoughts on “Try something speculative

  1. Love this, Laura. I like to think of it as “stirring up the pond”. Life can feel stagnant if we’re not growing, so why not mix things up a little and see what happens? I’ve been applying this to my work as a life coach. I’ve had such resistance to social media but finally decided to jump on the bandwagon a few months ago. It’s been fascinating, and has already – even in such a short amount of time – opened up new relationships and opportunities that I never would have had if I hadn’t decided to put myself out there. It’s absolutely fascinating. I’ve also stirred some things up that really haven’t gone anywhere, so you never know. But it’s absolutely worth a shot, as you said.

    1. @Rebekah – yep, often worth a shot. I have definitely had projects that have gone no where. Though sometimes they lead to other things, even if it wasn’t what I was looking for!

    1. @WG – meaning both parties agree to it prior to the official introduction being made. I write or call you and say “Hey, WG, can I introduce you to Beth?” You say yes, and I also write Beth asking if it would be OK to be introduced to you. Then, when I send the official note, I know that you both are OK with it, interested, and have the time to follow up. Just much more effective!

      1. Ah, got it. I usually do that to avoid any surprises. But you’re right that it increases chances of success.

        I have a little bit of unexpected work time, and I’m trying to figure out the balance of client development activity and purely personal ventures, like writing. Much to think about.

  2. Hey Laura, This is a great idea. I’ve been on maternity leave for the last 3 months (wrote to you about new motherhood under pandemic as a potential topic for BOBW:)). Baby and I are set into a good routine, but as you said I feel like every day is the same: feeding, changing diapers, playing with baby, put him to sleep and repeat…

    I certainly appreciate the precious time at home to take care of him, but also desperate in need of some stimulation or changing of pace. I work in brand management / marketing where everyday is so different at work which is why I love it.

    Projects I’ve been thinking about is something like reaching out to 2 acquaintances a week to keep my network active..definitely need to think of some new ideas:)

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