I am both repelled and intrigued by Jessica Quillin’s Insider Higher Ed article on writing a career “one-pager.” Repelled because the piece reeks of the business jargon, public relations image manipulation, and pseudo-corporate opportunism that I escaped from, wish never to return to, and believe is sucking humanity’s last juices of creativity and authenticity. Intrigued because I would very much like a job, please, and this sort of thing might help. I may not write a one-pager or “career map” (you just heard the sound of my stomach turning), but I did recently compose a “professional mission statement” like some of those MBAs do in their first year of baby-grad school. The rough draft goes something like this:
I will write meaningful and interesting history about places, people, and events that are important to me and my community, and I will teach other people to do the same.
Ain’t that nice? But also vague. So I’ve also written some definitions and clarifications:
“meaningful”= enlightening, in the sense of learning lessons from the past and being liberated by the past–by the knowledge that things can and do change, and that people help make that change.
“interesting” = engaging, fun to read, page-turner, surprising, provocative, stimulating, poignant
“community” = the people I care about, the place where I live, the wider world that I consider myself to be a part of and which affects me
That’s a bit better. And despite the weekend-corporate-retreat feel of the entire exercise, I think there’s something useful in this. Namely, that this mission-statement-thingy should act as something of a filter for my actions: if what I’m about to do won’t help me reach that goal, maybe I shouldn’t be doing it. I’m looking at you, season three of the X-Files; you may be totally awesome in every imaginable way, but perhaps watching three episodes in a row the night before a journal article is due is a Bad Idea.
Now, it’s time to attend to some Action Items to realize the potentialities of my mission statement.