Do you wish you had a crystal ball to see your future career direction? Do you wish someone will tell you what path to take? It really won’t help you. The past can help you to understand and articulate your story to date, and having excellent eyesight and insight can help you to see clearly right now. The future is unknowable, que sera sera.
Since I graduated from university with a Law degree, my career has zig-zagged in many different directions and being a lawyer has not been one of them (through choice). I’ve been a cameraman for a small media company, a pizza restaurant manager, a sales assistant in a department store, an administrator for a professional institution, a researcher for a start-up in professional services, a manager in a public service, a consultant in a small organisational development consultancy, and now an independent coach, facilitator, author, blogger and Associate for several consultancies in developing people for job, career and improved performance.
I’ve lost my job three times, once because I was ill-suited to the role and twice because the companies folded. This is the third recession I’ve experienced.
What conclusions do you draw about my working life and career? Did I end up where I thought I’d be? No way.
It’s been a non-linear, varied journey of exploration that has been characterised by regular change. It’s helped me to survive and thrive in a VUCA world – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It has required agility, flexibility and being open-minded. I’ve been hard to label, being generalist and specialist at different times.
On the face of it, my career history seems really random. But it hasn’t been. There have been consistent threads drawn from a commitment to lifelong learning and personal growth. It has enabled me to be a storydoer, creating my own narrative as I’ve gone along. The ability to reflect and understand myself has allowed me to also be a storyteller – about who I am, what I can do, my strengths and the talents I have honed. I’ve pointed them at the thing I feel most passionate about – helping people “learn to leap” in their jobs and careers.
If you are setting out at the beginning of your working life, or making a shift in career direction, you are about to write a chapter in your own story.
Develop your narrative or story consciously through investing in your self-awareness – from regular personal reflection on what you are doing and how you do it, as well as seeking feedback from other people… so your story makes sense to you and helps guide your direction.
Are you career gazing, using hindsight or your 20/20 vision?
David Shindler is one of Career Rocketeer’s top 150 career bloggers for 2014. He is also the author of Learning to Leap, a Guide to Being More Employable and co-author of 21st Century Internships: how to get a job before graduation. An experienced personal and professional development coach and consultant, David helps students, graduates, educators, professionals and organizations develop the people skills and mindsets they need now and for the future. He runs the Employability Hub (free resources for Millennials).