Inside: Your favorite TV shows can tell you a lot about what you’re most interested in and where you should take your career. Tips from a career coach and TV enthusiast.
Ah, the guilty pleasure TV show. We all have one!
These shows are incredibly enjoyable to relax to, but it’s not often someone asks you to make a connection between that show and your career. They are totally separate parts of your brain and life, right?
Well, I beg to differ actually. If you are in a career rut, maybe viewing your Career Sweet Spot through your television preferences will be just the fun jump start you need!
Defining a Guilty Pleasure TV Show
So what qualifies as a guilty pleasure show?
First, it is a show you could happily binge watch for half a day given the opportunity.
Second, it is a show that you typically only bring up in conversation if someone else does first. Because #semiembarassing.
Third, the whole premise of the show seems a little ridiculous on its face, and your professional side questions your use of precious time resources to watch this. But you can’t help it.
Generally, these guilty pleasure shows do not require much intellectual engagement and you could probably be scrolling Instagram while watching and not miss anything of importance.
What Does TV Have to Do with Your Career Sweet Spot?
One of the big parts of finding your Career Sweet Spot is defining your passions.
What are the things that inspire you, that give you energy, or that make you get out of bed in the morning?
However, I’ve often said that passion can be a dangerous buzzword because when your passion or passions aren’t super clear, people get all worried that they either aren’t interesting or simply don’t like anything all that much, which is a scary thought.
But I believe that everyone is passionate about something, or many things. It might just be less concrete than “baking,” “photography,” or “building ships in bottles.” Instead, your passion could be a deeply embedded interest, important relationships, a way you like to interact with people, a place, or a feeling.
Since passion can be hard to nail down, that’s where finding a theme from your TV preference comes in. Stick with me here because I’m going to break down how this works with my guilty pleasure shows from over the years so that you can do the same.
The Guilty Pleasure TV Show / Career Sweet Spot Breakdown
I’ll admit it, if I’m sick as a dog and lying on the couch, I’ve been known to flip on QVC. What’s extra ridiculous about this is that I don’t even like to shop and I have never bought anything sold on TV.
BUT, what I really enjoy about QVC is how the hosts are influencing their audience. I find it fascinating listening to them describe colors with way more words than necessary, refer to fabrics as “buttery,” and use strategic sales tactics to help viewers see how these items will fit into their lives. (See also: Say Yes to the Dress)
To me, QVC is all about storytelling selling, and for me, storytelling and words are my career jam. Am I passionate about QVC? No. But I do love using words to move an audience.
It’s all about getting to the why, and then pulling out themes. Kind of fun right?
The Bachelor is another guilty pleasure show I partook in for many moons. Are you also a fan? It’s cool. No judgment!
As with any dating show, the premise of falling in love in front of the camera while competing with 25 other people seems a little outlandish. But the good people at ABC have us hooked. Why?
For me, it was the interpersonal interactions and a fascination with how people build connections. Does your inner psychologist also come out while watching this show? How are you exploring that in your work? (See also: Real Housewives)
Or, for you, it could be a love of travel and seeing all of the different places you might want to explore someday. Maybe it’s time to be leavin’ on a jet plane? (See also: The Amazing Race)
Law & Order SVU
Back in college, I would watch hours of Law & Order SVU. Olivia Benson is right up there with Ruth Bader Ginsberg for me as the ultimate badass and she can do no wrong.
At the core though, Law & Order SVU is a crime show and it’s about horrible horrible things. I can’t watch it anymore as a parent because the storylines that involve kids are too much to handle. But this show has been on the air for so long and captivated thousands upon thousands of viewers like me.
When I think about why I loved SVU, it’s about loving Olivia, sure, but it’s also about puzzles. Any good crime show puts viewers in the detective’s seat piecing together bits of evidence. That’s actually a big part of what I love about career coaching, every client is a puzzle and they come to me trying to piece together bits of their lives. It is up to me to ask the right questions to help make connections and breakthroughs.
If you love crime shows (See also: any other Law & Order, NCIS, Chicago PD), perhaps you are also a puzzler. Where could you explore this interest and skill in your work, at your current job or a new one?
For many years I was a singing show fanatic. American Idol, The Sing-Off, Country Star, The Voice. You name it, I was here for it.
I even did a paper in college on voting shows and how they used different communication techniques to influence their audiences. It was fine. I think I got a B.
If I were to go back and do that paper again, I would be more interested in the viewers than the producers. Why do we watch shows like this if we don’t have a friend or blood relative in the running?
Well for me, I love music. Specifically, I love the lyrics. The instrumentals are important too, but as a lover of words I’m a sucker for a good verse that propels the story forward. Plus I love cheering on the people who deliver those lyrics.
So this guilty pleasure TV show comes back to storytelling for me again, but it could be something different for you. A love of performance? A competitive streak? How do those factors play into your work?
Will the contestants on House Hunters go for the charming bungalow or the quaint ranch with a view? I just don’t know!
But I always wanted to know! HGTV was a go-to for me and Glen for a while, particularly as we were buying and fixing up our house. Homeownership was a new adventure and it was interesting to see other people go through the process, and then make the homes their own.
The part I always liked the most was when they showed the couple in the house months later after they had bought it, moved in, and made some changes. (See also Property Brothers, Fixer Upper or any other show on HGTV where they were renovating or redecorating.) It was all about the creativity and seeing a finished product, something I know now is a key interest of mine and critical to my Career Sweet Spot.
If you’re into HGTV shows, what does it for you? Maybe you really enjoy real estate, the hands-on work of DIY, the puzzle of figuring out which house they would choose, or imagining what walls you would tear down. Break this one down for yourself and see what is really going on under that interest in watching Steve and Barb go with the historic colonial.
Parks & Rec
What makes me laugh the hardest at shows like Parks & Rec is the writing happening behind the scenes Give me a string of clever lines, jokes, or side comments and I’m all in. Hook, line, and sinker. Humor is a major source of inspiration for me.
From a career perspective, I know that comedy lifts me up and I want to be a part of putting that out there into the world. I also want to make people feel connected through laughter in unexpected ways. That’s the secret sauce of a workplace sitcom for me, finding the humor in City Hall or a paper company. Makes sense that I crack jokes about career development now, right?
If you love shows like these, maybe you’re also a big comedy fan and want to have humor be central to your life. But maybe you’re more drawn in by the relationships between characters, the storylines, or the type of work they are doing. Dig a little and find out what makes this your thing, and evaluate how that is showing up, or not, in your current work.
Picking Up What I’m Putting Down?
I love the opportunity to back our way into career development, so I hope you had some fun with this!
On its face, career development is super intimidating. But learning about yourself and embracing what makes you unique, and then connecting that with your career – that’s awesome!
Plus TV is fun and I think I’ll go watch some right now. You know, for research purposes.