A career plan rarely goes to plan. It can feel really disorientating to be so sure of your career path and then find yourself questioning whether this what you really want to spend your time on.
I have been there, and I grappled with reconciling this huge investment of my time and education into a particular area; and the ache of feeling like it just wasn’t for me anymore. I knew I could stay the course and end up in a great paying job, but did I want to spend my life that way – missing out on pursuing something I was really curious about.
Career management skills aren’t something we are taught. In high school we learn about ‘careers’ often through some half-hearted class about resume writing. Then we enter the world of work often at our part time or casual jobs while studying or at high school. We get handed a university course list at 17 and are expected to make a choice about how we want to invest the next 3 years. I only began to figure out what I was interested in work wise when I started working.
I found myself in frontline management and training really early on and I knew something was there that was untapped, so I followed my curiosity and my journey took a life of its own.
Your experience in life reveals to you what should come next. Often career management comes down to paying attention to what brings you joy and shutting out all the outside noise that is trapping you in a cage of self-doubt. To figure out what to do next, you need to full appreciate where you are right now (I know, sounds cheesy).
To get you started here are 2 simple and practical activities you can do today to help you thinking clearer about your career and what brings you joy (you can literally do these on the train / tram / walk to work).
#1 Reflect on the Highlights
Set a timer on your phone for 2 minutes. When you press start think about your proudest moments throughout your career and write them down. Try not to over think it just write them down as they come to you. At the end of the 2 minutes look at the lists, what stands out for you?
You want to make sure you only give yourself 2 minutes. This way you will scan your memories and only the ones with the real emotion will stand out initially. Struggling to get started? Think of every job (including volunteer work) you have done and ask yourself “when I worked at (company), what was I most proud of?). See what bubbles to the surface.
If you want to take this next level you can spend more time brainstorming. Write each thought on a post it and then group them together to find themes. It’s an activity best facilitated by someone else where you can be full immersed in the reflection.
#2 Game of Thirds
Take a sheet of paper and draw up 3 columns. At the top of the first column write “brings me joy”, in the next column write “it’s okay”, in the last column write “do not enjoy”.Think about your current role and the tasks and projects you get to engage in. Then, write those tasks down in the column which best represents how you feel about it. I recommend spending no more than 5 minutes completing this activity.
Then step back and see what you have written down. To figure out where to go next start by asking yourself “how could I do more things in my current role to bring me more joy” or “what could I do to be able to do more of what brings me joy”,and see where the thought train takes you.