Plant Yourself

PLANT YOURSELF – The stage of better learning about ourselves.What does it mean to “plant yourself?”How does it relate to the process of career building?

Often times we jump right into plugging and chugging job applications. This can lead us to end up in a job that might not actually be capitalizing on our skills. Instead, perhaps it was an occupation we always assumed we would do or one that we have been told we should go into, but never gave ourselves the space to reflect on our own more genuine and active interests, or therefore the space to consider all the other possible occupation fits.

When we think of getting a job, we tend to skip critical steps of the process. Planting yourself is the most commonly overstepped but is the most fundamental. Let us share what we did to explore this phase of the process.

Collected on this page are the highlighted most useful and impactful resources and tools we (as the 2018 Life Architecture class) found and benefited most from.

First, try out the reflection activity we created for the 2018 Short Term Showcase, downloadable here.

Phase 1: Self-assessment and planting yourself:

Reflection, brainstorming, logging your engagement with interests, asking others about YOU

Phase 2: Networking:

building relationships, informational interviews

Phase 3: Exploring the world of work by prototyping:

shadowing, online courses/certifications, volunteering

Phase 4: Asserting yourself:

Resume building, submitting applications, interviewing

Embedded within these phases, people can also experience four psychological states of identity development, according to psychologist James Marcia: diffusion, foreclosure, moratorium, and achievement. It can be helpful to be aware of these phases of identity development and know that these are very normal. It can be helpful, however, to consider where you are and where you want to go from there…

Diffusion →

Foreclosure →

→ Moratorium →

← Achievement →

Identity Diffusion (neglecting the whole identity development process, denial, ignoring, avoidance)

Identity Foreclosure (deciding on the first available option, choosing before considering potential options that have gone unexplored)

Identity Moratorium (reconsideration, questioning, reflection, redirecting, feeling in need of change)

Identity Achievement (immersed in a job and producing work that is having a meaningful impact)


1. SkillScan

What is it?

SkillScan is a really helpful tool that helps you with the “plant yourself” process. There is a whole deck of cards with a whole breadth of different skills on them that one might ever come across in any given occupation. SkillScan then has several sorting and organizing exercises to articulate and narrow down which you are capable of, interest in, and skilled at. They sort into different colors representing different themes, giving you a larger picture.

Exercises we recommend to find on SkillScan:

Card Sorting

Sorting the cards into themes

“Putting it all Together” 

2. Designing Your Life By Bill Burnett and Dave Evans [book]

Exercises we recommend:

Good Times Logging

Mappy Energy in Your Daily Engagements 

Odyssey Plans 

Love-Work-Play-Health Balance

The Designing Your Life Online Resources Website

More useful exercises you can find only in the book:

Tracking your States of “Flow” and Levels of Immersion

Articulate and Compare your Work and Life Values and Views

3. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

The MBTI offers one way of gaining insight into your personality. While it’s been questioned by psychologists, some individuals find practical application from MBTI results.

ACCESS: You must see a trained professional to get a full MBTI. For a free replica, try the 16 Personalities Free Online Test

4. Asking others what they see in you

An element of planting ourselves that we talked about and explored in our class was how “knowing yourself” can actually be much more unknown and confusing than we thought! You would think that because we are ourselves, that we should inherently know ourselves best, but a lot of us found that this was not the case. Something that helped this was asking other people to share what qualities they see unique and profoundly in you, as you stand in relation to a crowd.

We found this to be a key element of the “planting yourself” process that seems to be often missing.

When we ask for recommendations from prior employers, professors, or even friends to write on our behalf, the formal process is for these letters to be sent directly to your new potential employer, but never to you! Asking for feedback directly serves a similar role, and for us it offered particularly valuable perspectives and insight. Hearing their perspective can be deeply meaningful and empowering to hear since we do not always share this directly with one another.

People who are older, have been in the workforce for years and years longer than you might have and have perhaps been a prior boss have a really valuable perspective in being able to share with you how you stand out as a worker in the modern workforce. Because of their extensive experience, they can articulate and highlight valuable parts of yourself you may not have seen, articulated, or new were valuable or distinguishable against a crowd, before!

ACCESS: Feedback Questions Sheet

NOTE: A key part to not lose sight of in doing this exercise is to not forget the importance of gratitude through generosity. Generosity was something that was emphasized as the most invaluable skills and tool to hold close to you in all areas and phases of networking and reaching out to others to learn about yourself in early years of taking your first step out of the nest into the working world. With always thinking about building relationships as the priority (and as an opportunity to network) in all that you do and ask for as you reach out to others for support, advice, or information. So even though you are asking them to fill out this Feedback sheet (see below), consider how you can still prioritize giving over taking even and especially when you are networking or asking advice— this has been emphasized by experienced workers and career counselors as vital over and over again.

Examples of how to show generosity while you are asking for feedback, information or support… in smaller and bigger ways:

Smaller [but essential]: In the preface of your email, letter or phone inquiry, personalize the message to them, writing a few sentences about how you have admired them as a worker, learner, leader in their own work, and therefore how you would like to hear more about their own experience of “planting themselves” in their early years… THEN formally and politely asking for 15 minutes of their time in the next coming weeks to share some of what they see in you, because you value their perspective.

Bigger: Fill out the form for the other person in return, telling them the qualities, strengths, and marketable skills you see in them!


Want to set up a meeting to talk to someone about your career ideas? Be in touch with the Exploration Team at the Center for Purposeful Work!