In the 21st century no single job, title, career or profession can ever be enough. Figuring out ‘what you want to be when you grow up’ is not easy. In a time of constant change, where new industries, job titles and career options emerge overnight long term career commitments are challenging.
Capable of so much, you have the capacity to fulfil many versions of yourself across your career. In fact, you have more talents, abilities and capacities than you can explore. With this in mind is it any wonder, so many of us struggle with career chaos.
With so many choices where do you start and how do you choose? Not easy but definitely possible start big then act small with these practical steps.
Take time to make time
You are large, you contain multitudes
There are so many interesting, attractive, viable and possible versions of you that playing out each one over the course of a single life is impossible. But let’s not focus on what is impossible instead focus on the possible. Begin by writing, in your trusty notebook, every job, role, career, skills or professional interest you have. Indulge yourself. Instead of ignoring try embrace your multitudes. Allow yourself to touch your dream and explore your potentials. Go to your ideas, especially the ‘one’ that sits at the back of your mind that you have never allowed yourself to think about.
Once you have explored widely begin to refine. Too much choice is as bad as no choice at all. Accept that there are no perfect answers. Then acknowledge that to emerge from career chaos you must put an actionable plan in place. This starts by making fundamental commitments. Distill your ideas down to the three most appealing possible futures to you. On a large A3 sheet of paper take each of your three chosen future versions of yourself and explore them in as much detail as possible.
Next research more rigorously each of your possible futures. Ask yourself:
Is there a skills shortage in the sector? What does the future of the industry look like? What companies in the industry might you like to work for? How can you connect the dots between your current role and your future professional self? Do you need to upskill, reskill or retrain to move into this area? If so how can you best do that?
Get out there and go to related events, conferences or meet-ups in your local area. Listen to podcasts and read books on the subject matter. Find out who the industry experts are, what they are saying and who they are talking to. Become a private eye and investigate your potential future rigorously.
Leverage your world wide web
Not just your online presence in the form of LinkedIn or other social media platforms, although useful, think about the face-to-face personal and professional relationships you have established over the years. Tap into relationships built through work, hobbies & interests, family and life and identify people who you know, or who a family member, friend or colleague, may know who works in the areas you have chosen. Make contact with them arrange coffee, buy lunch or go for a walk. During your time together be curious and ask questions about their sector, industry or job. In some ways interview them to find out about your potential career path. If you can choose one person who loves their job and one person who hates it between both you should find out the truth!
Boil your three chosen areas down to one and repeat the above process. This time you might also explore courses in the area to gain further insight. You should also try to get work experience or volunteer work in the area. At this stage consider getting a mentor from the area to support and challenge you.
P’S – ‘I don’t have time for this’ is an excuse
If this is important enough to you, you will find the time. Just ask yourself when you should invest your time? Before making a commitment or after? Then ask yourself ‘When would I prefer to find out everything about my future career path? Before or after I make a decision?
By Sinead Brady