What’s the next step in your career?
The way you answer this question says a lot about how you relate to your work – whether it’s pulling you or pushing you.
PUSHing means that you’re OK with other people telling you, directing you, and giving you opportunities – or not. PULLing means that you’re using your jobs to take you in a particular career direction, towards some kind of ultimate goal.
But it’s easy to let this idea of a “goal” scare you into inaction. We hold up as examples People of Great Vision. We’re led to believe that Steve Jobs, or Martin Luther King, or Mother Teresa, or George Washington had a precise vision of what they wanted things to look like a decade or more into the future.
That’s rarely the case.
Someone’s Big Goal usually looks more like:
- “This is how I’d like to spend my life (until I change my mind)”
- “I’d want to be known for doing this kind of thing”
- “These are my values, and I won’t be satisfied unless I behave this way”
These aren’t terribly specific. But they’re still plenty good enough to get started.
Let’s say that you’ve found that you like building things – creating models, using tools, seeing a tangible result of your efforts. If you pursue jobs which reflect that, you’ll tend to be happier in what you do.
On top of that, perhaps you’ve also found that you get bored after working on the same thing for more than a year. So you’ll want to either look for jobs which let you build different things periodically, or look ahead for job changes before you get burned out.
When you look at jobs this way, you’re picking a certain direction, and then pulling your career in that direction.
It’s a lot more satisfactory than letting others push your career around.
Here’s another exercise which can often be helpful: What would you want others to say at your funeral? This isn’t a morbid exercise if you approach it thoughtfully. Let’s say that you decide you’d want people to focus on your love for your family, and contribution to the needy in your community.
These observations can tell you a great deal about what kinds of career path might be best for you. Being close to your family might make it difficult to have jobs which require lots of travel. Contributing to the needy may help you look for jobs in charities, or at least lead you to others which give you time and resources to make those contributions in your time outside work.
How does this help you to decide which steps to take over the course of your life? Certainly it would seem that any step which takes you in the direction of your dream is good. But also, any steps are valuable which give you the time, resources, or connections to help bring that vision to life.
Start making your own goals which are powerful enough to pull you through every decision!
by Carl Dierschow