What do you want to be when you grow up?
It is an innocent enough question, typically asked with good intentions. For many of us, even in childhood, we had a crystal-clear idea of what we wanted to be as adults – and we set about making it happen. It gave us purpose. Yes, these people are real, not imagined. I know some!
The “when you grow up” question implies you must choose one thing. The problem is, for most of us, having a “career” is not a straight line – it’s not an A to B situation. We are moving away from the traditional job-for-life scenario, which is both exhilarating and unsettling.
In Australia, research suggests we’re likely to have three jobs per decade – and five separate careers in our lifetime. That means there’ll be lots of upskilling going on!
This September, I will be speaking at Women in Leadership Summit Canberra forum together with other directors, c-suite executives and decisionmakers. My presentation is on ‘Adopting a targeted approach in developing your career roadmap’.
This is the crux of it: let your sense of who you are, where you come from and what you stand for guide you forward, not constrain you. Rather than getting stuck by your sense of authenticity, use it to learn and discover who you are beyond your comfort zone.
How robust is your career strategy?
Here’s a sneak peek into the insight I am going to share at the conference:
#Leadership learning doesn’t have an endpoint
The world will not remain constant and neither should your plans. One of the strategies I will discuss at the conference involves drafting your ideal resume – and the powerful way we can all act on creating or evolving a career based on this.
Consider education and professional development, where you would like to work (location), and who you can connect with to support these changes, such as a mentor or champion.
Linear and non-linear career progression
Embrace lateral change – a sideways move. We are taught to think of this as a career killer, and a move up is the only way forward. Instead, making a strategic sideways move can be good for you – if you can add value, build contacts, and learn new skills. I would caution job-hopping to another division or new employer without having a purpose.
Strategies to shakeup your career:
Be proactive. Prioritise time to develop and review your directions, strategies and actions. Many workplaces assume you will learn leadership skills by osmosis.
Look for important work. Make this your preference – not pursuing work that makes you look important. Be a high performer, not a workaholic.
Establish your credibility. Build your reputation and/or thought leadership across your industry or sector by seeking out opportunities to connect with others.
Adopt a growth mindset. Our qualities are not carved in stone. Be open to learning new skills and don’t be discouraged by failure – self-awareness is key.
The ‘when you grow up’ question is no longer relevant. How do you think it should be reframed?