How often do you reassess what you are good at?

Today is January 23 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you reassess what you are good at?” Navigating the chaos and practicing the art of living requires a constant reassessment of what you are good at and what you want to do with your life. Of course, you have the freedom to never assess your interests. That certainly is an option. But doing so may result in little, if any, progress towards translating your dreams into reality. This is especially true when it comes to work. Many people reassess what they are good at and in so doing, change jobs.


According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics August 22, 2019 press release “individuals born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held an average of 12.3 jobs from age 18 to age 52; with nearly half of these jobs were held from ages 18 to 24. Among jobs started by 35-to-44-year olds, 36 percent ended in less than a year, and 75 percent ended in fewer than 5 years.” One-way people navigate the chaos and practice the art of living well is to leave one job for another. Either out of necessity, or design, millions of people leave one employment position for another. More money, a better work environment, and a better fit between skills and work are three common reasons people switch jobs. To understand the later, one needs to reflect upon today’s question and reassess what they are good at, or what they want to be good at. Actor and director George Clooney has asked himself that question periodically throughout his career.


In a December 23, 2020 interview with Kyle Buchanan and published in The New York Times, actor and director George Clooney responded to a question about next steps in his career. According to Clooney “I am not bored with acting, I’m more concerned with the idea that I know for a fact how careers go, because I’ve seen it: My aunt Rosemary was a big singer and then she wasn’t. Things change, I know that. I have no interest in quitting, but you have to reassess what it is you’re going to be good at.” Reassessing what you are good at is an important tool available to anyone who would like to navigate the chaos and practice the art of living well. One does not need to do the same job their entire life. One can, if they wish, but if they ask themselves the question “what am I good at?” or perhaps “what do I want to be good at?” then a new job might be on the horizon.


In another interview, this time with Zach Baron for GQ published on November 17, 2020, Clooney discussed his early days of acting when he struggled for 12 years before landing his breakthrough role on the television series ER. As Clooney recalled “When you struggled for 12 or so years as an actor, when you get in, all you want to do is prove you can act and all the stuff you can do and show off all your tricks. And then as you ease into it, you kind of go, ‘Well, I don't feel like I have to prove anything anymore.’ I'm much more comfortable in my own skin.” This level of comfort, self-awareness, and self-care has helped his reassess what he is good at and what he wants to do next. According to Clooney “As time goes on, you're starting to look around, going, ‘Well, how else am I going to be involved in this business that I really love?’ I love this business. And I also do not want to be 60 and worry about what some casting director or some young producer or studio executive thinks about me anymore. I wanted to be involved.”

Baron asked Grant Heslov, Clooney’s long-time friend, about his friend's decision to step back from acting, to direct and otherwise live his life. Heslov told the story of an exercise Clooney propose they conduct during a recent conversation. The exercise was simple as the two were to “sit down and try to figure out how many summers they had left. As Heslov recalled “Clooney said ‘Let's say we were 55 at the time. So, let's say we have 25 more summers left—25 years, 25 summers. That doesn't seem like that many if you lose a whole summer, right?’”


Clooney understands reassessed what he wanted to do early in his life. As he recalled in The New York Times interview “I didn’t have it (acting) for the early part of my life — I did jobs I hated and lived for the weekend.” If you are missing something from your life, work at a job just to pay the bills, understand that change is possible. It is going to be difficult to navigate the chaos of transitioning to a new career, job, or company, but use this Navigate the Chaos series to understand how people practiced the art of living well as there are hundreds of things to do on your journey.