your future career path

How Clear Are You About Your Future Career Path?

“Don’t sweat the small stuff”, so the mantra goes. However I wonder if we somehow, in our wisdom, are also forgetting to sweat the big stuff. Big stuff like, for example, your future career path – where you want to be in 2, 5 or 10 years.

How many of us actually take the time and deep thinking required to consider, dream, research and plan for our future careers?

For those of you that are house owners, consider how much effort, consideration, research and planning takes place before purchasing your first house? Surely our own careers are as important, if not more so, than where we choose to live? Yet how much research and planning do we do for that?

21st century living is certainly not designed to make big-stuff-thinking easy. Our lives are increasingly becoming a smorgasbord of tiny constant distractions. Our to-do-lists, busy lives, smart phones, computers, and TV screens can sometimes lead to a life lived in Constant Partial Attention (CPA). That is attempting to split your attention in many different ways at the same time, rather than allowing one thing to receive your full attention. Take for example the common practice these days of ‘dual screening’, such as watching the TV and using a laptop or smart phone at the same time.  We are becoming increasingly distracted by the distraction of distraction (you may have to read than sentence again!).

This constant distraction makes it very easy to avoid deep thinking about big subjects, such as our futures and how we want them to look. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of our jobs and our lives that we don’t plan time to think about our careers, to really think about them.

Unfortunately distraction is not the only thing keeping us from planning. If it was then all we would need to do is clear the diary for an afternoon and off we go. However, what I have experienced personally in my own career planning, and observed from the people I work with, is that it’s still very difficult.

Why? Lots of reasons.

Many of us are afraid of failure, especially public failure. Ironically, many people are also afraid of success – afraid that success will label them as arrogant or self-centred. Or we fear the sense of responsibility that comes from success. Sometimes we just don’t know enough about ourselves to make a call on a 5 or 10 year horizon – what will we like, or not like then? Some feel career planning will restrict us, and we may miss out on something great.

Trust me, I can relate to all of these reasons. Yet I still believe it’s better to have a slightly clearer picture of the future than none at all. Imagine looking through a telescope and being able to bring the view into slightly clearer focus. An aspiration, even if it’s just the kind of person you would like to be, the kind of life you would like to have, or even an idea of what you don’t want to be doing in 5 or 10 years time, is better than nothing.

Certainly I don’t agree our future careers should be planned right down to the exact future job title and the individual steps to get there. In fact it would be very limiting if you did – the top ten in-demand jobs for 2010 did not exist in 2004 (USA Department of Labour). However the clearer you are about what you enjoy, what challenges you at work, and how you can take this to the next level, the easier your choices become. Career planning doesn’t mean lack of career agility; quite the opposite actually. If a secondment, project or new job role suddenly appears on your horizon, having some idea of how it matches with your future aspirations will make it quicker and less painful to make a choice.

I am not saying career planning is easy, or even much fun (at first); it requires you to be honest with yourself, ask yourself some tough questions and then attempt to answer them. Questions such as: Who am I? Where am I going? What do I want my life and career to ideally look like in the future? What are my values, what do I wish for my future at work?

If you are relaxing over the weekend, then perhaps it’s the perfect time to start considering, planning and thinking. I suggest clear some mental space and find somewhere peaceful. On the other hand, you could do this during the TV commercials, while the lap top is firing up….

Further your Career

FuelPathing™ gives a clear line of sight to opportunities within the business, both lateral and vertical, and shows a powerful gap analysis to kick-start the career growth journey.


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