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Careers Café

Doors and windows: goals needn’t be mutually exclusive


That saying about how, “every time a door closes, a window opens” never struck me as compelling. I was far more likely to feel immobilized by the idea that looking out the window required closing a door.

So it was a delight when a colleague reminded me of David Winter’s “Two Birds, One Stone” work sheet. It’s useful for a bunch of reasons.

If you’re considering different career options, the application is pretty obvious – the work sheet is a good way to identify actions that could support your pursuit of more than one career. The goals you consider for the careers can be as obvious as “Get a job as X,” and “Get a job as Y.” But it might be even more useful to pick your goals based on what you want to accomplish through the jobs you’re considering. So, you could list goals as “Be a professor” and “Be an educational consultant at a university.” Or, you could list goals such, “Work with colleagues who are deeply invested in their research,” “Use effective teaching practices,” and whatever else you hope for in your work.

Unlike some career planning tools out there, this one lets you incorporate personal goals. Maybe one of your goals is “Have at least X hours per week to devote to my family.” Great. Include it in your Two Birds, One Stone planning.

And if it’s tough to find actions that pertain to multiple goals, put the exercise away for a while. But come back to it. Not everything links or serves double duty, but we’re often quick to assume that choosing one option requires us to reject others.

Liz Koblyk
Liz Koblyk is the associate director of the Wilson Leadership Scholar Award at McMaster University.
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