Career Planning: Where Will You Go Next?
Let’s conclude by asking two interesting questions: “What are you capable of?” and “Where will you go next?” The answers to both of these are partly trait-related. You won’t arrive at a good answer to the first question until you really understand your traits, and until you push yourself to the point of failure on some things that you care greatly about. If you plan your challenges well, it will be a small failure, perhaps a “sit-down fall”, as my mother used to advise us to aim for when we were learning to ski progressively better every day as children. You don’t want a neck-fracturing face-plant, but you better not have a day of perfect form on the mountain, or you’ve been lazy. Without small regular failures, you won’t take good account of your current capabilities, or build your skills as well as you otherwise might.
Answering “where will you go next?”, the traditional question of career planning, you must assess and understand not only your traits, strengths, and weaknesses, but your values, goals, needs, and aspirations, your fears, opportunities, resources, and those of your supporters. You also need a reasonable picture of what is going on in your organization and the larger world. All of that is tough foresight work, and here again, your early answers will always be provisional. Once you have a provisional answer to “where will you go next”, you’ll want to reconsider “what are you capable of?” in the framework of your new plans. In turn, the further you challenge yourself in the next action cycle, the better you’ll see what kind of plans will take best advantage of your unique abilities. So try to continually balance these two questions in your mind.
For personal foresight and career planning, foresight professional Verne Wheelwright has developed a great book, It’s Your Future (2010) that explores many of these higher-level personal foresight issues. He’s also written a Personal Futures Workbook (2011, free PDF), to help work through those topics. Another older but still great guide that supplements Wheelwright’s works is George Morrisey’s Creating Your Future: Personal Strategic Planning for Professionals (1987). For a book that will motivate you to put your energy into careful self- and career-improvement, as we move toward a world of increasing technological unemployment, try James Altucher’s Choose Yourself (2013).
In answering “Where will you go next?”, Aristotle Bancale and Dorothy Shapland offered a helpful Venn diagram in 2011. They propose that your ideal career, how you spend your time, is at the intersection (multisolves for) four key things: your talents (current masteries), your passions, your service to others (the social/universal value you provide), and your compensation (how much others recognize the value you provide). There are several such models in circulation, but I find this four-factor model particularly elegant.
Understanding your abilities, your achievements and shortcomings, what gets you most excited, what you are capable of under both the best and the worst conditions, who you help the best, and how to get paid for providing value to others are daily journeys that never reach an end, only waypoints. With increasing self-understanding, and self-control, your ability to learn, grow, and enjoy your amazing journey will get better and stronger your entire life.
We hope this tour of tools and approaches to personal foresight, including self-diagnostics, self-motivation, leadership, and self-management has been helpful. Please let us know what else we need to include in this chapter, or remove, in future versions of this guide.