Everything I Needed to Know About My Dream Job I Learned From Some Style Blog

My amazing friend Laura asked me to write a guest post for a women’s entrepreneurship blog Women With Moxie. Once I accepted I then proceeded to panic just a wee bit wondering what advice I might possibly have to give you all. Then it came to me: spend more time on Pinterest. Enjoy!

Everything I needed to know about my dream job I learned from some style blog

If you don’t spend a chunk of your day on design blogs, HGTV, or obsessing on Pinterest, you are missing out on some good stuff. It turns out that their advice on the perfect balance of a room or the appropriate size of an armchair—is handily applied to something more heavy-duty: your work. Here is some universal wisdom I’ve learned about designing your own career.

go DIY
It’s the best ethic you have in your arsenal. No one is going to hand you your dream job on a silver platter, because chances are your dream job doesn’t exist yet. You have to craft it. Roll up your sleeves, gather your raw materials, put on your safety goggles, and buckle down to create something just a little bit above your skill level and outside your comfort zone. Because nothing you truly love comes “readymade.”

understand Proportion
We all deal with problems of scale – (it’s not just a problem for sofas anymore, ladies). While we assume that the rapid growth of a business equals success, (as when I launched an editorial services company back in 2006) it is sometimes more difficult than having no growth at all. Ask yourself: what is the size of the thing I want to do and how will that fit into the room of my life? Will I have to take the door off its hinges?

reject Scarcity
It’s fake. It’s all in your head. There is an abundance of opportunity waiting to greet you. Have you trolled Craigslist lately for “vintage bar cart?” The issue isn’t lack of supply, but rather the overabundance of choices and possibilities. Our brains don’t know what to do with all the chaos, so we sometimes default to our old jealousy narrative about begrudges others their “finds” (e.g., “If she gets her dream job, then that’s one less dream job available for me.”) Wrong.

identify Patterns
It takes a while to consciously recognize what you like (e.g., I pretty much hate polka dots and toile). Apply this to your work-self and make time to reflect on your own work preferences, habits, proclivities, what you can expect of yourself. Recently while coaching one of my employees about missing deadlines — we uncovered that she was massively overbooking herself (and feeling like a slacker for not getting it all done at once!) But all she really needed was to temper her strong work ethic with the proper amount of down-time for herself in order to create her best work product.

just Curate
Be selective. Be thoughtful. You can only have so many knick knacks. Do you really want this vase as part of your tableau? So too with your menu of services and your network of clients. A colleague once told me that if I spread myself too thin, my own gifts could be diluted. The solution to this is to continue to choose wisely: network with everyone you can, but invest deeply in those with whom you identify a spark and want to build a long-term relationship with, be it a company, a client, or a coworker.

embrace Purpose
Purpose is the most important thing of all. In the interiors world, it means every object having a real job to do. In your work, it means having clarity around each thing you put your energy into, each task, each job, and each relationship. When I lead a team, host an event, or organize a meeting – I make the purpose explicit both to myself and to the people I am inviting into the room. Everything deserves meaning.

Creating space

Much of the time I do things for others that I cannot do for myself. Hah! Maybe this is typical for women, or moms, or Italian-Americans. Maybe it is just an archaic social leftover. But I often find the motivation for making a grand gesture once there is someone else counting on it, or people who will be the happy recipients of said gesture.

Perhaps my own cultural programming is why, when I learned about “hosting practice” a few years ago, it was instantly appealing to me. Here was a set of methods for working more effectively, getting things done — all strung together with a basic notion of hosting others. The idea was that you could take these methods along with traditional tenets of event planning and create extraordinary spaces that allowed people to come together in deep conversation to solve complex problems and build profound relationships with one another in a fairly short period of time.

A basic definition of host is one who receives other people. This is fascinating to me. By hosting, you are literally opening yourself up to others and inviting them into your space. If you extend that a bit – there’s also the assumption that you are inviting others into a space that is engaging, meaningful, fun.beach scene

I first practiced these methods at work, within my own software development team. But I noticed quickly that their application was universal. Soon, each time I considered planning an event, whether it was user testing, a birthday dinner, or a 4-day retreat, I was suddenly seeing everything through the considered lens of a host. For example, it became critical to think a lot about the space or “container” I was trying to create for others to inhabit. What was I inviting people into? What were the elements that might compete for space? What or who must I save space for? What could we accomplish?

These kinds of questions generated more energy. They spurred me on to plan more events, craft more invitations, and practice creating more spaces where imaginative things could happen. For me, it was like finding a tool I didn’t know I’d had all along, and being so eager to use it.

As my hosting practice deepens, it feeds me as much as it feeds the communities with whom I engage. As I create events with a thought toward others, I end up creating a space for myself to thrive as well.