In your career and your life, do you know what’s coming next?
Although we may think we know what our ideal trajectory will be, when we stop to think about it, there may be more issues to sort out than we thought at first glance.
For example, in your current career, the next logical step may be a promotion to management. But have you really thought through what the job would be like, and whether it’s something you would be good at and enjoy? What’s logical for others isn’t necessarily right for you.
When you’re thinking about your future, it can be helpful to ask yourself the following questions, to ensure your ambition doesn’t lead you down the wrong road:
Do I like what I’m doing now?
Although you may think that you have to follow a predictable career path to reach success, being promoted up the ranks may not make you happier. As you ascend the internal job ladder, you’re often charged with doing less and less of what you joined the company to do, as you take on more and more management responsibility.
If your background and training are in website design, for example, and you love spending your time designing, does it necessarily follow that you’ll love supervising others who are designing? If the answer is no, you may want to figure out ways to take on a larger role within the discipline itself, rather than managing others. Maybe your company could promote you to lead designer for its most important client, for example, rather than promoting you in effect from design to management.
Do I feel that I need a change?
In today’s job market, you may feel that you can’t be too choosy about accepting a new opportunity. And it’s true that practicality and financial realities need to be a big part of your career puzzle. But if you think only of practicality and not of your own needs and life stage when it comes to making career decisions, you may find yourself unhappy and back to square one quickly anyway.
Think about whether a change in your job or career sounds more exciting or more exhausting. Though any change will contain seeds of both, if the thought of making a change right now does not inspire you, it’s okay to stay put. Jobs ebb and flow, and when you’re in the flow, just go with it. Change will come your way soon enough, so don’t feel pressured to make or take opportunities before you are ready for them.
What are my goals?
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll have a hard time getting there. Yet many people don’t take the time to think through their long-term goals and map out intermediate steps to ensure progress toward them. When it comes to thinking about whether or not to take a certain opportunity, view it through the lens of your larger goals. Think about what you hope to be doing 5 or 10 years from now. If the opportunity in front of you won’t get you there, then don’t take it.
What’s the best path to get where I want to go?
All of the above questions lead to this last one. Once you know what you like, what career stage you’re in, and what your goals are, what remains is deciding how to get to your preferred destination. There’s likely more than one path you can choose to reach your goal, and at the same time, some paths will lead you in the wrong direction. Take the time to discover which is which.