Focus Your Intelligence

Posted: June 4, 2011 in Psychology
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Focus Your Intelligence

Intellectuals often search for universal knowledge and change subjects so often they can’t get a career going. They start their studies in each new field as a total amateur. They read everything they can find, run experiments, ask lots of questions and practice, practice, practice. One day they find they’ve become an expert. After that, the knowledge returns on their study investment is small compared to when they first started learning. The more experienced they are at learning new things, the faster they get up to speed and are ready to move on.

Is this you? Have you had jobs in many different fields, even major differences in job types, like labor, services, and office work? What is going on? Don’t you have any focus? The problem is that you are an intellectual, trying to understand everything. The result is you will get bored of what you are doing no matter what job you choose. I know. I’ve been there and still am to some extent.

I’ve cycled through many jobs with a significant difference in each one. It makes life interesting but not profitable. You become an “expert” faster than your peers and are seen as “someone with a future here”. Then you get bored and change jobs again to start the process all over.

If this isn’t you, you’ve probably found the career you want and need not read any further. If it is you, read on. I will give you a solution.

What Are You Looking For?

If you really are trying to understand everything that is, the totality of reality, then your interest is philosophy. If this is your path, it will be a hard one. Philosophy goes clear back to ancient Greece and it will take a lot of work to see how it all ties together. There isn’t much money in philosophy either. I hope your interests are a bit more limited.

As soon as philosophy has anything definite to say, it is no longer philosophy. It becomes either art or science.

Science is concerned with the nature of reality. At the highest level, physics asks “What is the nature of reality?” This is another big subject because it ties together all the sciences. This time there’s money to be had, even in theoretical physics. The first thing you will need is a university degree. But maybe you need to focus in even more.

There are many branches of science and if you can pick just one as your career, you will have a much easier time.

On the other hand, your interests may be on the side of the arts. At the highest level, psychology itself asks, “What is the meaning of our existence?” This is not psychology the discipline. Psychology as a career is a subset of psychology itself. Psychology itself tries to unify all of the arts into a coherent picture. There can be money to be made in the study of psychology itself if you are good at writing about what you learn. There is no employment incentive to get a formal education if this is your subject, because there are no jobs related to it. On the other hand, you may be lucky enough to have a narrower focus.

There are several branches of arts. Each has some employment potential but not as lucrative as the sciences unless you really excel in your field. Each of these also starts with a university education.

The one thing that you chose to turn into your life’s work doesn’t need to be something requiring higher education. You do need to find your focus, but you should have a good idea how to do that already. Consider your life so far and what you’ve liked best. Through all of the changes, what have been the constants? For me they’ve been writing and psychology. I thought of these as hobbies for years. Your narrower focus may come from a hobby too. It may come from a past career or series of related careers. You could find it’s a subject you’ve been reading off and on for years.

Why must you focus your search for knowledge?

The Search for Universal Knowledge is Doomed to Failure

If you keep on with your endless attempts at learning everything, you will get nowhere. Knowledge is increasing constantly and you can never learn it all. The amount of technical information alone is doubling every two years1. The more you can zoom in on one specialization the better off you will be.

How to Profit from Your High Intelligence

If you’re feeling a little intimidated by the calls to get a university education, you shouldn’t be. A lifetime of acquired knowledge has given you both research and writing skills. There are many jobs in both those fields and by focusing in on your main interest you will move closer to what you want to be doing. Some jobs require a limited amount of higher education, a shorter course or no education at all.

The question remains; how will you find your specialization?

How to Find Your Career

Even if you think you already know your specialization, you should still give this a try.

Step 1

First, write down all of the jobs you’ve had that you didn’t hate right from day one. A computer file is the easiest since you’ll be expanding your list as we go, but do it on paper if you like.

Include either the year of each event or your age. This will make it easier to add more points.

Second, add all of your studies. Include anything you were great at in public school, additional formal education and all the subjects you studied in books. It doesn’t matter whether you ever did it as a career.

Next, add your hobbies and social clubs. Are you starting to get the picture. This part of the task amasses all of the interests you’ve had in your life. Don’t skip any just because they don’t interest you now.

When you think you’re done, review your list. Think about each period in your life. Were there other interests that you’ve missed? How about the missing years? What happened there? The goal is to show too many interests. That is the problem you’re trying to solve. If you can’t see the problem clearly, your solution won’t be the best.

Step 2

If you’re an intellectual, you should be finding this all easy. You’ve probably guessed the next step already. It’s the same thing you do when you study a new area of knowledge. First gather as much data as you can and then look for the basic principles that hold it all together.

What has held your life together? What areas have come up most often? Where have you lingered the longest? Don’t overlook similar but seemingly unrelated fields. For example, I studied religion as a child and psychology as as a teen. Both show ways to be happy with life. One is based on belief and the other on self-examination.

You might want to save a copy of the expanded list of your life’s significant events. Sometimes it takes more than one try to get to the best solution.

As you create the new list of long term interests you’ll want to narrow things down. You might even want to bring it right down to a point form list. Some of the points may be a short descriptive sentence. Nothing wrong with that. If you get it parred down to where it all fits on one page, that’s short enough.

Step 3

Review your page, the page that summarizes your life so far. It mostly shows what others have seen. What has your life been for you? What has been following you all your life? Is there a common theme? I found four possible careers the first time I did this exercise. When you narrow it down to a small enough number of interests, you will be able to see where your greatest interests have been.

Step 4 – Your Career

Now that you have a limited number of primary interests identified, you need to Choose. What are the ones that best define you. Which of these interests that you want to continue with is most important? Can you make it a career? If you’ve been coming back to it again and again throughout your life, you should be able to see many ways to make it into a career. It should be broad enough in scope to allow you to make the occasional changes your intellect demands but narrow enough to be a specialization. Specializing is the way of the world and you must fit in to succeed.

Now What?

Even when you’ve identified the career for you, what job you will do is not clear. Most fields of knowledge offer several career choices.

You still have the papers you wrote for the exercise above. Consider how your secondary interest could help define your primary interest. My primary interest is psychology. My secondary interest in philosophy gives my work a slant that makes it stand out from pure psychology. My secondary interest in writing gives me a vehicle for passing on what I’ve learned and am continuing to learn.

You will need to work out your own path. Now that you have a clearer vision of what’s important to you, it will be easier to focus your energies on areas where you have a future. If you do a search for “careers in your interest” you will find there is plenty of information to get you going.

Article text copyright 2011 David Arthur Smith. All Rights Reserved.

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