One day Alice came to a fork in the road and spotted a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. His response was a question: “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.” Alice in Wonderland
Wearing my Executive Coaching hat, I’m often asked to help someone think through their future. What job would they really like to do? In what areas could they really shine? How can they guarantee financial security for the family? What are the realistic possibilities to change from where they are now? In one intriguing recent project, I worked with a client to help him plan 10 years ahead. But the more usual request is to figure out the next move in a sequence that most people construct one step at a time. Some never figure it out. They are seduced by phone calls from search consultants and ‘go along’ to an exploratory meeting. Before they realize it, they’re writing a goodbye speech without having thought through the career move in any meaningful way. Message = Don’t allow yourself to be a puppet in a headhunters’ sales target.
Think it Through: After working on this question loads of times, one inescapable conclusion has emerged; there is no foolproof way to figure out the perfect career. However, the opposite idea – ‘just sit around and see what happens’ – is hardly a recipe for success. So I’ve developed a process which helps ‘the answer’ to emerge. The Career Anchors Exercise allows you to systematically explore what job you really want to do. Populate the framework and the answer to the perfect career question will become clearer. While the format seems deceptively simple, the good news is that it works. Skeptical? Try it!
Career Anchors Exercise
First Column: Possible Roles: In the first column, list all of the possible jobs you could do – either now or with some additional training. Then capture the pluses of working in this particular role for you as an individual. In another column, ask: What are the negatives of working in this role? Be honest with yourself. Some examples are listed below:
Teacher 3 months holidays; I Hate Kids
Astronaut Lots of Travel; Afraid of Heights
Accountant Love Business; Can’t Subtract
Dog Trainer Outdoor Work; Terrible Allergies
Ambulance Driver Fast Driving; Queasy around Blood
Simple Ideas: Sometimes, the best ideas are straightforward. The math of 2+2=4 is simple; it’s also correct. You need to invest time in thinking about the future. Perhaps Mary Oliver captured this best when she asked: “What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?” Now, complete the exercise and sort it out!
PS Joke of the Week: We are in the process of choosing a new dog and I’ve been to tons of dog shows lately with the kids, looking at a variety of different breeds. Picked this one up at the last event (if you are very PC, look away now!).
Paddy: “I’m thinking of buying a Labrador”
Mick: “Don’t! Have you seen how many of their owners go blind?”