Encourage creativity in career stories

Career development practitioners encourage clients to build a personal narrative of their lives, and their career history, often tracing development from the past to the present. Tools used to prepare such stories may be based on writing.

Clients’ creativity can be encouraged by using other mediums, such as from the arts and media. By using existing material clients can express something about their story without having to start from scratch.

To illustrate, here are three examples of how a life story can be expressed using song lines, book titles, and television programs. While somewhat tongue-in-cheek, these examples do reflect something of a person’s lived experience.

Song lines [this can be performed, singing each line]

“When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother what should I be?”

“I wanna be Bobby’s girl, I wanna be Bobby’s girl, that’s the most important thing to me.”

“To dream the impossible dream”

“I am woman hear me roar”

“I can see clearly now the rain has gone, I can see all obstacles in my way.”

“I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair.”

“I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again”

“Climb every mountain”

“Lord, we don’t need another mountain”

“It’s been a hard day’s night, I’ve been working like a dog”

“It’s the wrong time and the wrong place”

“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away,  now it looks as though they’re here to stay”

“And now, the end is near”

“If you don’t know me by now”

“Oh yes I am wise, But it’s wisdom born of pain”

“These boots were made for walking”

“Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye, cherio, here I go on my way”

Book titles

Born 1955 of Oscar and Lucinda, address Bleak House, siblings Les Miserables, prized pet The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Off to school: Great Expectations. My first teacher Jude the Obscure. I made friends with the Girl with the dragon tattoo, mucked around with the Three Muskateers, didn’t like Tom Jones, and Tristram Shandy was a bully. I thought I was going to learn The Jitchhikers guide to the galaxy, turned out to be One hundred years of solitude. Mostly played the Hunger Games and discovered Where the Wild Things Are. The Mayor of Casterbridge came and opened the new science wing, Nightmare Abbey, and then he was Gone with the Wind.

Gap year was full of Gullivers Travels, I took A passage to India, followed by Pilgrim’s progress, listening to Canterbury Tales. Visited Treasure Island, but Th  e Tempest turned it into the Wasteland.

Scored a management job, a 50 Shades of Grey, War and Peace combo. Led my team known as – Animal Farm. It was like Waiting for the Barbarians, with Crime and Punishment.

My main challenge was The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, then I discovered Dangerous Liaison with Lolita. No Pride and Prejudice. I recorded every detail in Bridgit Jones’ Diary.

My boss, Frankenstein, who had a Heart of Darkness, tried to build a Brave New World. His Boss, The Godfather, skilled at weaving Charlotte’s Web, was part of the executive team, Slaughterhouse Five, creating 1984.

But now, As I lay dying, Waiting for Godot, I’ve succumbed to The Plague. Finally The Big Sleep.

TV programs

This life story is an Australian story, even an Inside Story, offering Insight into My Crazy Obsession. While there’s no Q&A you’re in for some Entertainment Tonight as I reveal My Great Big Adventure as Dora the Explorer.

I tried a range of jobs, Bondi Vet, Highway Patrol, and Border Security. Then I applied to work in The Office. The interview, held at Sunrise, was a Millionaire Hot Seat, with Winners and Losers. Their opening question, Who Do You Think You Are? really stumped me. I thought I had an Outside Chance and closed with my clincher, Deal or No Deal.

I joined the Office and met my colleagues. Never Mind the Buzzcocks, this lot were a Brady Bunch engaged in a daily Family Feud. Staff came in pairs – Arthur and George, Mike and Molly, Clark and Dawe, and Crash and Bernstein. I later discovered Mike and Molly, known as the Bold and the Beautiful, had Grand Designs on each other, and were having A Current Affair. I met the Nerds and Monsters in IT, living Life in the Undergrowth. The finance staff were an Endangered Species, with Extreme Phobias, forever getting up to New Tricks.

The boss’s assistant, Marsha the Bear, operated a Spyforce, and wanted all her requests met within 60 Minutes. Failure to do so unleashed the World’s Scariest Animal Attacks – clearly she needed Anger Management. The marketing staff were a bunch of Misfits, one day the Scream Queens, the next Animal Squad, daily demonstrating How not to Behave.

The Nowhere Boys in HR were The Undateables, constantly Bewitched as they Dream of Jeannie, making them the World’s Craziest Fools. Here’s The Drum. I was working in the Loony Tunes Show. I should have chosen The Checkout. So, What would you do?

I consulted several specialists, Doctor Who, Father Brown, Doc Martin and Dr Phil, even Judge Judy, but they were all Eggheads.

My only escape was Huey’s Kitchen that offered Ben’s Menu. The Master Chef swung between Good Chef, Bad Chef, and was a Catalyst for Insiders becoming Offsiders. I had to Getaway.

So The Chase was on for a new role. I figured becoming The Restaurant Inspector would be Totally Wild. But that came to an end with a Glitch on a Food Safari when an Undercover Boss disguised as A Foreign Correspondent faked a Medical Emergency and accused me of being Billy the Exterminator.

Now I’m at World’s End, about to enter Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. I Shouldn’t be Alive. But I think I’ve been Touched by an Angel, even if some of my life’s been spent on Devil Island. Some of this story may sound farfetched, But Would I lie to you? Life is more than Play School. What’s important is – Have you been paying Attention?

Other options are:

  • Film titles
  • Song titles
  • Art titles
Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.