Picture yourself sitting in a rocking chair, on your balcony or veranda. Reach down and pick up an old photo album with pictures of your life; the moments, the friendships, family and so on.
As you page through the photo album, what do you see? Rewind back to the present moment and ask yourself, "What do I need to do now to have that photo album and what role does my career play in helping me get there?"
It’s often easier to reflect back rather than project forward. That’s why we encourage you to think about your rocking chair moment. From there, it’s easier to consider what role work plays in getting you to that moment. Believe me when I say, when you ask someone what career steps they want to take to lead a fulfilled life...you hear the sounds of crickets chirping so putting yourself in the future and looking back is a much easier exercise.
Though before we step completely into the future, let’s take a moment to reflect on how you got to where you are today.
Let me pose another idea to you… you didn’t just arrive here by chance, you made certain choices which delivered and shaped where you are today.
It’s time for a bit of reflection - I’m going to take you on a guided tour of your past! Complete the career map below for all the roles you have had.
Things happen for a reason. Looking back at your map - you have made choices to get yourself to this point today. Whether you are happy or not, the choices were yours.
When we get to this point, a lot of people tell me this doesn’t work for them, they were made redundant and how was that an active choice. Here’s how - you had choices leading up to and after the event and while nothing you personally did may have led to being made redundant, you were making an active choice to stay in that role, in that company. The question is why you were making that choice. That might not sit comfortably for some, but when you strip everything away, it is the truth.
The next part is to write next to each decision that you’ve noted - was it a decision from a fixed or a growth mindset perspective? Really spend some time challenging yourself on it.
Once you’ve done this, I want you to write next to each role whether it was a fit with your values and why or why not.
By now you should have a bit of a mud map which looks something like this:
Take time out now to reflect on the choices you have made and how you have made them. This should provide you with good insight as to how you want to move forward.
At this point, I’ll share something for you to ponder on - “what served you to get here, may not serve you moving forward”. This isn’t to say that you dismiss everything that’s gotten you to this point, though we encourage you to be considered in what you choose to take forward.
So... how does all this play out to get you to that rocking chair moment? You’ve defined upfront how work and career has helped you get where you are now. So now work back from your dream future and spend some time identifying what kinds of roles would move you in that direction.
This is where it can get a little bit tricky as sometimes our options aren’t obvious to us or we get locked in to one linear trajectory - so seek some help at this point. Whether it be from someone who works in a similar field to you whose career path you’ve admired, or perhaps one of our ClearSearch mentors. This is really about working through your next five or so roles. We do different exercises to challenge you to get really clear about what you want, for example asking the very simple question of “if everything went perfectly in your career, what would your (perfect) JD of responsibilities look like”. Very rarely will someone have an answer and it takes some skill and discussion to land what this looks like for the individual. It is some work, but it will guide and shape your future happiness.
I honestly question why you wouldn’t want to do this given you only get one shot at life! What’s the worst that could happen? Say it out loud... then work back from there and you’ll realise that you can pretty much proof yourself against that happening by being more aware and ready to see your choices when they present.
We hope one day, when you’re having that rocking chair moment and thinking about how work contributed to it, that you think something along the lines of “I did what I loved and I loved what I did”.
Eric and the Clear Search team