How Twitter Reveals What You Should Do With Your Life

twitter birds tweeting
image courtesy of cobalt123

Raise your hand if you’re in a quarterlife crisis.

My whole fuggin heart goes out to you, hand-raiser. I’m recovering from my own four-month-long quarterlife crisis [edited 5/23: LOLZ just kidding the crisis wasn’t over and resurfaced in full-force soon after this post published. I’m annoyed every time I see the “four-month-long” part…], during which I woke up every morning feeling frustrated and totally lost about my career…and life. It blows, and I’m here for you.

If you didn’t raise your hand, but you feel twinges of that nagging “What am I really supposed to be when I grow up?/What is my purpose?” feeling (who doesn’t?), I’m still talking to you here.

And if you already know exactly what you’re meant to do, I hope you’re at least 80 years old. Otherwise, that’s so unfair, and you’re putting me in a bad mood.

Pay Attention to What You’re Not Paying Attention To

It occurred to me a couple weeks ago as I browsed my Twitter feed (follow me! I’ll follow you.) that the social network can really provide some insight into the direction you should take your career.

I want you to try something: Next time you’re on Twitter, try to actively make mental (or actual) note of the tweets you find yourself either completely ignoring or just skimming. As you scroll through your feed, there are probably tweets you naturally pause to read, and others you kind of blow over consistently–who are these tweets from? Both categories–who’s tweeting stuff you’re genuinely interested in, and who’s talking about crap you honestly don’t care about?

Using myself as an example, I found I was always subconsciously ignoring tweets from marketers and marketing agencies. This is my field, so I’ve loaded up my “Following” list with reputable sources to keep myself in-the-know….except I don’t actually give a shit. I don’t work in social media, so when I’m on Twitter, I’m not working. And when I’m not working, I don’t care about marketing.

I was, however, paying attention to anyone talking about wellness, personal development, and writing. Topics like nutrition and fitness, career, lifestyle, freelance writing, blogging–that’s the stuff I was reading. That’s the stuff I was clicking on.

Now, I had already realized weeks before that marketing clashed with my personality. (My mom was actually the first to point it out, and the event was part of the beginning of my plummet into quarterlife crisis. And yes, ironically, Marketing is an area sometimes recommended for INFJs because it fits with some of our personalities. But not my version, I guess.) But I still had doubts. I still wanted to cling to this industry because it was where my experience was–I was terrified of admitting the years of experience I had were in the wrong (for me) field.

But man, concluding that all the shared articles and tips and ideas about marketing totally did NOT get me excited really confirmed the mismatch, and I knew my decision to switch gears, do some research and exploration, and create a new career plan was the right one.

Be Honest With Yourself About Who You’d Love to Follow

Back to the exercise.

Taking this a step further, I want you to now consider the types of Twitter accounts you’d love to follow, but don’t for one reason or another. To use myself as an example again, a couple years ago, I realized I was filling my life with information I only wanted to be interested in.

I’d play the news on TV in the background in my apartment, and I limited my online reading to current events-related stories only. But I kind of had to force myself to pay attention to this stuff. Because it’s totally not me.

What was me (back then) was girly stuff. I cared about makeup and manicures and hair dye way more than I did the news. But I didn’t allow myself to get involved in that world, because I was trying to be interested in more “serious” topics–I was trying to be someone I’m not.

I eventually said fuck it, quit seeking information that didn’t sound cool to me, and started embracing my true preferences.

And I started following like 800 “girly” Twitter accounts.

Delete, Add, Do Big Thangs

Alright guys, it’s time to clean up that list. For the next week or so, start deleting every Twitter account whose tweets you find yourself ignoring. Next (or simultaneously), start following accounts for the sole reason that their tweets interest you, no matter the topic. (If you’re unsure what you even care about–it’s possible, we lie to ourselves a lot–consider the blogs you follow, websites you frequent, movies you watch, books you read, etc. Or at least those you want to.)

When you get your list into better shape, dive in and notice the water–doesn’t this feel so much better? Aren’t you finding you’re really digging what your tweeps are talking about, and that these are conversations you actually want to engage in?

Now, consider: What does all this say about you? What kinds of businesses and people and topics jive with your personality? Imagine your “Following” list is someone’s you don’t know, and that you’re trying to figure out what they’re about and what they do for a living by analyzing who they follow. Develop a description of this person, and be really, really honest with yourself: Is this the real you?

And if you were giving this person career advice, what would you tell them to do?

K. Go do that.

***

Discuss

Is your Twitter feed consistent with who you really are? Have you ever noticed yourself trying to care about things that actually don’t matter to you? Has anything else helped you determine where to go with your career?

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Your thoughts?
  1. I cull my lists every few months. I have two main Twitter accounts, so it gets to be a little much. I’m slowly weening out one Twitter account and only follow new people/businesses from @MikeRastiello – https://twitter.com/mikerastiello

    I try to follow people that make me think, laugh, or are a good artistic muse. Does it work? Eh. Sometimes. I need to find more people to follow. I also need to find some motivation.

    I’ve been meaning to start a blog like this for a while. I have a domain name, and the blog all set up on it, I just need some of that good motivation to start posting!

    • Cassie says:

      I try to tell myself “it doesn’t have to be long” when I’m psyching myself out of writing a post I haven’t even started yet. I love writing, but it takes a lot out of me sometimes. My subconscious knows that and tries to protect me from the grueling work ahead of me (I guess that’s what’s happening. IDReallyK.). So reminding myself it doesn’t have to be long helps.

      Also, in general, the “Renaissance Business” ebook was INVALUABLE to me in terms of helping me feel prepared to “really” blog and “really” be a blogger. It walked me through establishing a solid platform, and I felt a lot more confident in my blogging efforts because of it.

      AND, I’m currently reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, which is about fighting the resistance all artists feel as they try to do their work. The first chapter was a bit…flowery…for me and I almost stopped reading, but it gets better, and more helpful.

      Anyway, BLOG!

      • Chris says:

        I have found that the “it doesn’t have to be long” mantra helps IMMENSELY in my writing process. I think we are conditioned in school to believe that quantity is preferred over quality. How many times were you told to write “a five page paper” or whatever, with emphasis on not screwing with the margins or typeface. It wasn’t until my college comp. II class that I realized shorter was almost always better. Our teacher was great and had been the editor of a newspaper back in the day. She always gave us a topic to write on and said she didn’t care how long it was, it just had to have impact and absolutely NO FLUFF (we were marked down if she thought it was fluffy). I actually loved that class come to think of it…

        • Cassie says:

          Chris, this is SUCH a great point — I definitely recall being intentionally wordy in an attempt to hit some required word/page count in school. What the hell? Why is bad writing enforced? If some little shit turns in two sentences because a length wasn’t specified, give them an F. They won’t do it next time.

          And yeah, I imagine this is where we got the notion that if a piece is going to be good/important/respectable, it must be long. Which is ridiculous, of course. Seth Godin being a prime example.

  2. Caroline says:

    “I was filling my life with information I only WANTED to be interested in” – That is such a great decluttering “handle”! I still have some books lying around that fit that category and it strikes me that that’s why I didn’t get rid of them (yet!), totally felt like I HAD to be interested in them! Thanks!

    • Cassie says:

      It’s ridiculous, right? When we finally realize we’re forcing this non-interest on ourselves. Feels so much better to just pay attention to what we actually care about!

  3. Laurie says:

    Woah, we have a lot in common. That’s almost frightening. I’m also an INFJ (sometimes INTJ depending on the test) which is unusual, especially for women. I also used to work in marketing (graphic design) AND had a quarter-life crisis a few years ago but I had a mortgage at the time and couldn’t just quit my design business cold turkey.

    It took another crisis (postpartum depression) to figure out what I wanted to do. I wish it was as simple as analyzing my twitter feed. Although, thinking back my favorite posts were always by @advicetowriters so maybe you are right.

    Damn Cassie! Where were you back then? I could have saved so much time and suffering…

    • Cassie says:

      THIS IS WHY I LOVE THE INTERNET/BLOGGING. Hi, new best friend. Um yeah–we’re the same. I read your blog and I hear my own voice, Laurie. Excited to learn from you!

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