Mapping My Work Life

As part of preparing my talk for the TEDx event in Taipei later this month, I created this graph showing the ratio of the various types of activities I’ve done over my work career. I don’t know if I’ll end up using it in the talk, but it was an interesting exercise to think about how the various strands of interests and experiences have ebbed and flowed throughout my now almost 20 years of worklife.

I categorized the various things I’ve done into six buckets - industrial design, user research, interaction design, strategy, writing, and marketing. For the most part these aren’t roles in the traditional sense. I’ve never had “interaction designer” as a title, and the spike of writing in 1996 wasn’t because I suddenly became a writer, but because I was doing my Masters degree. But these activities were important parts of whatever role I was doing at the time. Over my eight plus years at frog I’ve had four titles and at least six roles.

It’s satisfying that today there is a pretty evenly distributed mix of all the things that I’ve been interested in doing over the years. When I started out as an industrial designer I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, or ever getting bored with it. But as I worked more and got more projects under my belt, other areas of expertise caught my interest and I recognized things about what I was good at and - just as importantly - not good at, which steered my career in different directions.

Where I am now is “postdictable” - not predictable by me twenty years ago, but perfectly logical in hindsight.

What would your personal map look like? And is your current mix of activities what you want to be doing? Is it a surprise or a planned progression?