“What do you want to do when you grow up?” This is the age-old question…
This is the fourth in my series on the Five Steps of Proactive Career Development created by the Illinois Career Development Association (ICDA)
Step 3 of 5 Steps of Proactive Career Development: Develop and sustain a clear career focus or mission for your life’s work and re-evaluate regularly.
Remember Alice in Wonderland?
What often comes to mind as I consider career development focus is the exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland. Here is an excerpt of that conversation.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where …” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“… so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.
Are You Feeling Like Alice?
And, on occasion I’ve even come across the following shortened version of this exchange attributed to Lewis Carol’s Cheshire Cat. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” In either case, it’s quite clear how it might be challenging to choose a path when facing that high school graduation fork in the road if the traveler doesn’t know where they want the path to take them.
Might it also follow that if you don’t know what you want to do, study or become as an adult any college, university, technical school or life/work path will get you there? Well, if that’s the case, you might as well throw a dart at a map of the world to determine where to go once you graduate from high school and only THEN determine what you’re going to do to provide for your basic needs and get at least some satisfaction out or your job/career/lifework once you get there.
Get a Focus on Your Future
Well, if that doesn’t sound like a particularly wise or satisfying thing to do, you might want to consider developing a focus for your future. And, where the eight or more hours you’re likely to spend each day engaged in some type of work for pay makes up a significant portion of our waking hours, wouldn’t it be wise to have a clear idea of just how you might want to spend that time and further help assure that time will be spent in an enjoyable, satisfying and energizing way?
Sound better than the “dart option”? Then I suggest you spend some time thinking seriously about “where you want to get to,” to quote the Cheshire Cat. If you find that task to be a bit overwhelming, seek some guidance from your counselors, advisors, or a career counselor. That is, of course, an area in which My College Planning Team excels
Adults Need This Too
Oh, and by the way, once you’ve clarified your focus, mission, purpose or direction to aid you in choosing the next step on your path, the educational program best for you, know that you can and will be likely to ‘course correct’ any number of times throughout your life. In fact, adults often find themselves re-evaluating where they “want to get to” just as you’re doing now. So, know that you are not alone and that how you are learning to clarify what you want and where YOU “want to get to” will serve you well always. It WILL be worth the time and effort.
May your focus be clear!