When I listen to people who have done a successful career, it all sounds like a pathway of pre-aligned steps. Even the hard moments contribute to the bigger picture in the retrospective. It feels so natural that all decisions, ups, downs and detours lead to a well assembled storylining. It is hard to believe that the future of these people actually was a blank page waiting for them to write their first paragraph.
Recently, I was writing down my own CV with all the projects that I delivered and all the different topics I pursued. While I was writing, I could actually see the same red line in the past years. It all contributed to a big picture. It amazed me, as I am certain that I did not purposefully planned out all steps in all those years.
I recall a podcast about human nature: Our brain loves to find patterns and connects all types of events so it all becomes a big story. This function of our brain is for sure what happened in the described incidences. Looking at our past, we are able to connect events and our brain creates a storyline.
But what does that mean for our future?
Luckily, we can learn from the past – and that is: from our own experiences but also from the past of others. Therefore, if you want to create a career, you can do a few things that raise the probability for success. As you are in the here and now, you can integrate certain behaviours and mindset in your life that steer your life.
Life is unpredictable. Yet, there are certain behaviours that will lead to a certain result for most people. You can search for patterns that worked for other people and mimic their behaviour. This can be true for the degree of education they earned or the way they think. Whenever you think, you have found a pattern, test it for yourself.
As a basic example: if you see someone in a job you want, check his/her bio on LinkedIn and find out what the key components were that you actually can imitate. Life is not a classroom test and copy/paste is highly recommended.
In addition, start reading books, listen to podcasts, discuss with mentors. Put your head around ideas that challenge you. And then decide which ones you want to mimic.
As you can get inspiration by other people, you also need to know who you are. What are your values in life and what do you want to pursue?
Your personal set of values will be unique. While defining more and more values for your life, your inner compass will get stronger and decisions will become easier.
If you always want to make other people happy, you might live a life with little conflicts. But maybe the wants and needs of these other people drive you away from the things you really enjoy. In the middle of this inner fight of ‘be nice to everyone and avoid conflicts’ versus ‘I want to do what I enjoy’, you have the chance to find your values. Once you have found them, put them in action.
Here are some examples of values: Diversity, Fitness, Compassion, Generosity, Quality, Family, Patience, Change, Love, Support, Appreciation, Wisdom, Happiness, Forgiveness, Friendship, Teamwork, Respect, Love for career, Adventure, Competitiveness – just to name a few.
What are your values? In what order are they relevant for your life?
Last but not least, you need trust. Once you trust your decisions, your inner compass or life itself, you can take decisions today despite insecurity.
You will never know, how your story will look like at the end. But you can be assured that there will be a red line in your career as it has been for other people as well.
So, what would I tell my younger self?
- Find yourself inspiring people who are where you want to be. Most likely, you will always favour certain aspects of a person’s career or behavior. For sure you don’t want to become a copy of one person.
- Find out how they got to their specific trade and draw conclusions for your own behaviour and mindset.
- Explore, find and decide about your core values and start acting according to them even if that requires hard decisions.
- Start taking steps towards your defined direction e.g. by getting a certain degree, learn a skill, challenge your mindset.
- Trust yourself and keep walking.