The word “career” is often ambiguously positioned from person to person. While I have asked this question to hundreds of professionals, the answer is almost always unpredictable, yet situationally classifiable if I dare try and share my current perspective.
My career is a side effect of my education and current endeavors
Or that “I derive my career from the actions I happen to be taking at this moment.” The passive career is the more common position. “What role do you see yourself in within the next two years,” I notice that self-evaluation in this mindset leads to relying on the current organization charts. Conscious Leadership might describe this position as we are “At the Effect of...” the events that happen around me. In this mindset, our careers will happen to us.
- I expect to be promoted in two years.
- I am unsure when I will be ready for my next role.
This mindset works with assumptions of the future that lack guarantees. How would we know that in two years that a Senior position would be available to us? A sad sense of disappointment, depression, confusion, or burnout affects a professional at the effect of their career.
My career is my journey
The Driving mindset, my career is mine, it is my exploration, it is my life challenge. This mindset is inspired; it is dramatic yet dynamic. It is curious, patient, and exploratory. As These professionals see where they are going, and they take deliberate steps to achieve their ideal outcome. That does not always mean they understand what their achievements will mean to them, but they are curious enough to explore them deeply.
- My next role might be Senior, but I will need to continue to improve X to be ready.
- What is the day and life of someone working as X?
Career voyagers will experience hardship and unexpected twists and turns, but those events will fuel their careers.
The fun fact about these people is that they are the same. Everyone can be a career voyager; they need to choose to be.
Which mindset do you tend to favor most? Do you believe that your career is just happening to you? Do you think that your career is something for you to nurture, to be curious about, and to ask deep questions about what comes next?
If we are at the effect of our career, what is the first decision we can make for ourselves? A reasonable starting place could be:
- What do you want to be spending your time doing?
- Of all of the things you have done so far, what did you enjoy the most about those activities? Would more of these things satisfy you?
- Is there something you have not yet tried? I have seen folks with exceptional skills change their approach to applying them, leading to tremendous results for their personal lives. One example is deciding to forgo management and become an individual contributor. Or perhaps we stop working in our field and would rather spend time teaching.
Tip: Do not put too much pressure on yourself in these exercises. It is normal if it takes weeks before you make your first discovery. Remain patient with yourself and know that every effort you apply to drive your career will make the first eureka make much more sense.