If I asked, you could likely answer the question:
What’s important to you as you think about your future?
But, would your answer really be true and whole? My guess is that you have dabbled in and out of the question. And, of course, you know many things that are important to you–categories with markers. You know your family is important. Advancement and rewards are important. You might have had a health scare and now work out pretty regularly. You could draw the pie chart of the categories of importance and a companion chart of how you spend your time. And, like most of us, your heart would sink a bit about the things on which do not spend enough of the right time.
The Work Is Really, Really Hard
Why have you not developed a crystal clear picture of:
- Your next career steps?
- A big transition you desire?
- Your two-child parenting priorities?
- Your final 10 years in the hectic pace you’ve become accustomed to?
- Or, the next 20-years that you know could be amazing but totally different from the last 30?
I can tell you why. Because it’s really, really hard and disciplined work. You have to reach for both your honest interests with the required imagination and the natural uncertainty of your future. So, you stay busy with the day-to-day up to maybe the end-of-year planning. As crazy as the present gets, it’s easier than the future.
Use Your Thinking Tools
When it’s hard to assess an organizational problem, we turn to spreadsheets and analyses to generate insights and ideas. Last week, we talked about your Career-Life Timeline. Use this concrete form to stimulate your thinking about:
- What was important in your childhood.
- What was important in your early career (and mid- to late-career if you’ve been around as long as I have been).
- What is important now–right now.
- What will be important in the next segment. And in the next segment beyond that.
You don’t have to be right about the future, but being clear about what you know about what is and will or may be important is very valuable. Here’s my importance equation. The first slide shows my reflection on my past to present.
The second shows some thinking about the near- and far-future.
These bullets have lots of detail behind them. But, I’ve tried to show enough of my thinking to give you an idea of the work from past-to-present. Let me know what you find out about your importance equation.
If you missed last week’s post, get started there.