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Home > Audio, Podcast > Can you imagine your career future?

Can you imagine your career future?

September 26th, 2008

Career Opportunities podcast logoCan you imagine your career future?
By Douglas E. Welch

Listen: Can you imagine your career future?

[audio:http://welchwrite.com/career/audio/2008/career-op-20080926.mp3]

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This week I am asking you to engage in a bit of future-tripping. Looking at the reality of your job today, where do you think it might lead in 5, 10, 15 years? What might your career look like when you reach your 60’s? Using your imagination today could help to insure your destination tomorrow, but it might also make it clear if you are on the right – or wrong – path right now. If your imagined destination doesn’t appeal to you, it’s time to take some corrective action.

Frequent readers and listeners to Career Opportunities will be familiar with the next few steps. Take some time, in a quiet place where you can think and try to imagine what your job and career might look like in the future. Take along your journal or notepad to collect your thoughts as you go.

Where will you be living and working? What work will you be doing? Corporate or freelance? How much will you be earning? Will your current career even exist in the future? Now, let’s dig a little deeper. Are you happy in your career? Do you feel accomplished? Are you living where you want to live? What is your family like? Are they happy with your career choices and the time commitments required?

When I do this exercise with others, I often hear complaints that they “can’t possibly imagine that far ahead.” There can be several reasons for this. First, they might not be able to break away from the current state of their career. Sometimes we can be so immersed in the day-to-day reality of our work that it is very difficult to break out. That said, this is one of the easier issues to address. Given enough time and a quiet environment, we can all begin to imagine what might be possible in our career future. We just have to have the time and space to break away.

Other issues are more difficult, though. Too often when we are asked to imagine our career future, we are afraid of what we might find. If we are already dissatisfied with our career, we don’t want to imagine the future because in our eyes it can only get worse. Of course, if we are unhappy with the future that we see, this only means we need to create a new one. This is why you MUST think about your future, otherwise it will simply happen to you. You want to direct your future, reaching out for new goals and new challenges, not simply accept whatever has been dealt to you. This is the exact reason we engage in this “futur-ing” exercise.

For good or bad, once we have imagined our future, it gives us clear signs as to what we need to do next.

For good or bad, once we have imagined our future, it gives us clear signs as to what we need to do next. If you feel you are on the right track, then what are the next steps along this path? What can you do to insure that the future you imagined comes to pass? Do you need more training? Do you need to earn a new position in your company? Do you need to move to a different company with more opportunities for advancement?

If you look into the future and don’t like what you see, what are your next steps? Did you pick the wrong career back in college? Do you lack training or a diploma and this is holding you back? Does your company hold no chance for advancement? Are people actively blocking your career path?

Now, take each issue and revisit our exercise. How different would your life and work be if this issue didn’t exist? What are 5 ways of dealing with this issue? Can you make the issue simply go away? Does it require wholesale changes to your career or just a few tweaks here and there? If one person is standing in your way, how can you go around them, or reduce their influence? What would your career future look like if these problems no longer existed.

Despite how it might feel some days, you have the ability to shape and direct your career. it only requires the will to imagine the future and then take action to reinforce or change the future you see. You don’t have to accept what is given to you. It is your duty to shape your life and career in the best ways possible so that you develop the career you deserve.


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