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Four ways to bring your future into sharper focus

Hi there, It’s not always easy to find your next challenge. Whether you’re starting a new role or you

Work in Progress

September 14 · Issue #49 · View online
The newsletter about work

Hi there,
It’s not always easy to find your next challenge. Whether you’re starting a new role or you’ve been in the same one for a while, it can prove more complicated that you’d think to identify new and concrete goals for yourself.
That’s why I like this collection of goal ideas so much. Although it’s geared to tech work, it includes some HR-related topics too. We’re quickly approaching the end of this quarter, so perhaps a good time to do some researching (and soul-searching) before we head into the fourth and final quarter of the year.

Today I want to encourage you to make some clear choices. With an eye to the next 3 to 6 months. Here are four things to consider: 
Prospect 1: Keep doing what you’re doing. This is also a choice and it can be a good one. Deciding to stay the course can bring clarity and calm. However you spend your time, it’s often tempting to think up some other option that may at first sound better. And every workplace or role has its downside. But continually weighing your options saps energy, and deciding to park the matter for a while can do wonders for your peace of mind. 
Prospect 2: Consider tightening your focus. Nobody knows what the months ahead will be like. If schools are open where you are, they may close again. And we all may be stuck at home for another stretch. Regardless: eliminating or streamlining some responsibilities means you’ll have more attention to give those that remain. Take stock of what you’ve agreed to do, and identify those commitments that you think could become a drain. 
Prospect 3: Chase your dreams. Perhaps you’ve never written out what you dream of. It’s a great idea to sit down and do that this week. And then think up what you can do in the next few months to get you one step closer to making those dreams a reality.
Two things you can always try: Write out your plans and talk them over with someone who’s been there before. Dreaming of taking a sabbatical? Outline how you want to spend that time away, and then discuss your ideas with 2 or 3 people who’ve done something similar.  
Prospect 4: Make a case for what you want. If you routinely let people know what you need, then you can probably skip this one. But if you tend to simply make do and carry on, consider taking some time this week to think about how you’d like to grow. Many employers have slashed budgets for employee development. That’s understandable, but investing in yourself remains crucial.
Maybe there’s a class or a new skill you want to make a case for? Your chances are better if you present a concrete proposal. But whatever your situation – employed, independent contractor, freelance – you’ve got to take charge of your own professional development. No one’s going to do it for you.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I hope you’ll see the common thread: Start with some introspection, interrogate your own needs and desires, then work what you find into concrete next steps.

Have a good week!

PS A reader in Canada pointed me to this interview with digital illustrator and animator Lois van Baarle. In it, Lois shares what she as a creative person gained from my book GRIP.
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