Stacey Abrams’ Framework for Figuring Out What the Hell to Do with Your Life

And the three questions she asks herself

Manoush Zomorodi
Forge
Published in
4 min readAug 31, 2021

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Photo: Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images

It’s been well documented that the pandemic has warped our sense of time. I, for example, wrote in my previous post that I hadn’t been on a flight since February 2019, when really it was 2020 — an easily fixed, if slightly alarming mistake. But this inability to anchor ourselves in the here and now goes way beyond typos. It’s messing with our sense of self, too. As a former colleague of mine wrote beautifully in her newsletter:

“In the Before Times, life was tied together by a series of events that I’d hop between, always trending gently forward so that I’d grow and change without really noticing. A new friend from a dinner party would spark new ideas. A casual interaction on the subway would remind me how I was perceived by strangers. Showing up at conferences would bolster my professional identity, and pave the way for opportunities that would reinforce it further.

In this moment, all of that is wiped clean, and yet we’re still expected to move along at a rapid clip. But without the traction provided by those outside encounters, how are we supposed to pull ourselves into the future? And, what are the selves that we’re pulling, exactly? I don’t know exactly who I am right now, or what I want or where I’m going.”

Being out in the world was where many of us decided we were measuring up. Or not. But if the Delta variant continues to keep us from bopping between the office, conferences, and public transportation, do we need a new yardstick? Maybe that old yardstick was a shitty one to begin with. By staying in place, perhaps we’re “moving forward” in new ways. We just need to teach ourselves to recognize them as advancement.

On the face of it, this conundrum seemingly applies to a privileged subset of the population. The most fortunate among us, including me, might hire a career coach or, back in the day, pick up a copy of What Color is My Parachute? But as millions of jobs go unfilled because workers expect better pay and opportunities to develop their skills, more people clearly want help strategizing their own personal and professional progress. My friend’s newsletter made me think of an interview I did last year with Stacey

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Manoush Zomorodi
Forge
Writer for

Journalist, mom, Swiss-Persian New Yorker. Host of @NPR’s @TEDRadioHour + @ZigZagPod. Author of Bored+Brilliant. Media Entrepreneur-ish. ManoushZ.com/newsletter