As the late Steve Jobs once said: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
So why is it we do not spend more time finding out what we love? Most people drift into jobs and careers. The majority of us spend more time planning a two-week holiday, which in 6-12 months will be a distant memory, than a career which lasts 40 years and takes up seven hours per day, five days a week.
Don’t we know how to career plan?
Or is it we haven’t got the time? In my experience, both of these are at play. Career planning is in the ‘too difficult’ box. We don’t know how to do it, so we avoid it. All too often we immerse ourselves in the task at hand, which is an avoidance strategy.
Misguidedly, we devote ourselves to our current employer, believing that by working hard, we will get rewarded. Most employers are delighted by this strategy, since their best interests are served by what you are doing today, not what you should be doing to fulfil your career dreams. Avoid delegating career planning to your employer – they will do what’s best for them, and most are reluctant to develop you for jobs you will perform in the future.
Take steps towards change
Quoting Wayne Gretzky, the famous ice hockey player, Steve Jobs also said: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been”. Career planning is all about putting in place what you need to get you to your final destination.
Step 1: Create the time
Nothing is more important than you. Set aside time to plan your career and write down your thoughts.
Step 2: Understand your interests and values
Interestingly, it’s your interests and values that drive your skill-set. We get good at what we like doing. But when values and interests are misaligned, you are unlikely to enjoy your work or be successful. Even the best marketing person in the world won’t be a success at BAT, Imperial Tobacco or Gallagher if they’re a passionate anti-smoker.
Step 3: Seek help to know yourself
Ask your friends and seek professional help. There is a very simple tool called ‘best reflected self’, which involves geting your friends to give examples of where you are at your best. Read their feedback, and take notes on the key insights. Look for commonalities among the responses, create themes across these and link them to several examples.
Step 4: List what is important to you in a job/career
To have a rewarding and successful career, it is essential you put time into developing a plan. Write the plan.