What are some tips for someone who wants to start thinking more constructively about long term career planning? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
This is not career advice we often hear. But this is exactly what evidence says. I have not only built a career (23 years at the time of writing in 2017) but have also closely observed the trajectories of many of my peers.
A hard-set goal can distract us from opportunities and from personal joy.
For instance, a lawyer might join a law firm with a goal is to make partner is X number of years. Some may not enjoy the journey but are set on the goal at great personal cost. Yet others, when they realise they are not enjoying it, may be better placed for alternative paths such as becoming an in-house lawyer or becoming a business advisor. I have both kinds of lawyer friends and the latter kind, aided by their flexibility and open mind, are enjoying wholesome success in their careers and have become well-rounded persons, citizens, parents in the process.
A journey, on the other hand, allows us to revise our goals, redefine our roles, identify emergent opportunities, and take advantage of all that instead of ignoring or dismissing them in pursuit of an unchanging career goal.
When my peer group started our careers, the web was beginning to appear in our workplaces. Most of my MBA classmates didn't even have a personal email ID for the first 3-4 years. Many laughed at me in the late 1990s for being an Amazon devotee while I lived in a non-English speaking country because why would you give your credit card number to some unknown website! But I found the possibilities fascinating, and Amazon was just the beginning of it. I am now on my fourth "career" and continue to work across boundaries of technologies and disciplines in ways that are still not common, putting me in a rarefied space that challenges, stretches and keeps me engaged every day.
How would one translate such advice into daily choices?
By making sure every step counts. One of my tests of a good day is to have learnt something new before bedtime, while making some progress on my path of growth. This sounds easier than it is but its value in the aggregate is incomparable.
I have board room credibility at this stage of my career, when I talk about this "technology" and "disruption" stuff. I learnt through immersion, early adoption, abstraction, application, exploring possibilities, and not being afraid to learn through failing at times. More importantly, I see and do not dismiss the fear in the board rooms, and help them through the journey by sharing with them both my sense of wonder and excitement, and my solid business advice grounded in pragmatism and possibilities.
That was my journey -- learning.
Identify yours, and embark on it.
In the "long term", change was and is the only constant. Be sure, it doesn't hit you in the face and that you see it coming so you can change or redefine your path. That won't be easy or simple or painless, if you are fixated on a goal.
This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:
- Startup Failures: What are the most important things you can learn from a failed startup?
- Life Lessons: What's the single most valuable lesson you've learned in your professional life?
- Career Advice: How does one know if one is making excuses or having valid reasons not to begin one's entrepreneurial journey?