Let me tell you a short story about long-term career planning.
A friend of mine called me just a week ago to ask for some advice. She spent the first 20 minutes whining about her company; she was promised a bigger area, a pay rise but none of this was materialized yet. She was frustrated. She was keen to start looking around.
Then, I asked the dreaded question; ‘What do you want to be doing 10 years down the line?‘ The answer was typical; ‘I don’t know. Life if unpredictable. I cannot think that far ahead.’
I have heard a variation of this answer so many times so I was prepared. I paraphrased thequestion. ‘If I were a genie and I had the power to grant you everything you wish, how would you like to be in 10 years? Professionally, personally, socially, the full picture.’
For some reason, people find easier to start thinking about their long-term plans in this context rather than in the pure analytical, rational, step by step way. It is a bit like daydreaming and it feels good. Similar to the question ‘What would you do, if you win the lottery?’ but with much higher chances to become reality than the lottery win!
If you want to have a go at it, I suggest you address all elements of our life – not only your career. For example, think:
- in which city or country do you want to live,
- whether would you like to be married, in a relationship, or single,
- in which sector would you like to be working in,
- whether you prefer to work for a big corporation or have your own company,
- how do you want to spend your free time,
Visualize how you would you like to see yourself in 10 years so you are happy with the outcome. If you know this, you will be able to make better short-term decisions about your career moves and your life in general.
Write down your thoughts. Read them again in a couple of weeks or in a couple of months. Make any changes you feel appropriate. When you have decisions to make, go back to your notes. Does the next move you consider brings you closer to what you want to become? If yes, go for it. If not, think again.
Don’t worry if your long-term goals change. It can happen. It is not only that life is unpredictable, we also evolve as personalities. The long-term career goals I had in my 30s are very different to the ones I have now.
The bottom line: Don’t limit your long-term planning only to your career. Think big picture. Get prepared in case a genie appears in front of you!
Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply, author, consultant, and speaker. She has held senior positions in the pharmaceutical industry for 12 years and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her b4iapply blog is recommended by The Guardian for professional development.