May I take your baggage sir?

Bell boy

In all my years in the recruitment profession, I’ve often been surprised (not by body odour or how many people fail to read instructions), but by how many people are unable to clearly articulate what it is that they want to do for a living. So much so that I’ve developed a theory on this that holds true in life, as it does for recruitment. Whilst this theory is unlikely to win a Nobel Prize, it’s assured to get you pondering as to where your focus lies.

I’ll run with the dating analogy to outline this philosophy in parallel with job hunting. It’s more fun and should emphasise the drift I’m wanting you to get.

You start off life with just a vague idea of what you want, both in a partner and a job.

These loose concepts obviously aren’t based on any personal experience but rather some of values, observations and status desires. You really want a blonde girlfriend and a job as a developer. As luck would have it, you’re able to realise both of these simple ambitions and manage to find both. However, after a period of time, you begin to realise that the blonde has some quirks that you don’t like; she eats with her mouth open and gets mean when she’s been drinking. Moreover, that job as an Analyst Programmer involves analysis as well as coding. So you ditch both and move on. Your wish list remains the same, a blonde and a job as a developer. But your “don’t wish” list captures the above idiosyncrasies.

Who would have thought it, lightning strikes twice and you find another blonde that will put up with your late night coding sessions and your new developer job that hopefully doesn’t involve too much analysis. Time goes on, the honeymoon period runs out and you start to notice that the new blonde is scathing towards dogs (I mean really, how could you be mean to dogs?) and she’s a bit directionless, plus she won’t swim. Curses. Then the coding job transpires to involve loads of testing. “That’s just not on” you say, and again move on from both. Your wish list remains; I want a job as a developer and a blonde. But your “don’t wish” list now involves analysis, testing, dog booters, non-swimmers, open mouth chewers, layabouts and callous drunks. As you’ll carry this around with you, that my friend is your baggage.

Unfortunately, negative (your baggage) outweighs positive - by as much as three to one.

The very nature of the brain is that it finds it easier to be critical than positive. This proves to be a real challenge if you’re on a quest for love or coding, as you will tend to identify more with the things you dislike than like.

However, here’s the rub; we get what we tend to focus on in life. Whether or not you want to it’s how patterns form and why we can get the same bad experiences time after time. Which isn’t ideal.

So here’s a tip, and it’s so deceptively simple you’ll think that it’s a trick.

And yes it is, but like Penn and Teller (the illusionists), it’s a very convincing trick that tends to work. Focus not on the things you don’t want, but rather on those that you do. They may be as simple as the opposite of what you don’t want, a wish list or come from a goal setting exercise.

You’ll be surprised how effective this can be to get more of what you want out of life. So give it a go, stop focusing on your baggage and instead on the positives of what you want in life and a partner. And if that fails, head for brunettes. According John Nash (the character in “A beautiful life”), there’s less competition there!