The first step to getting the impact job of your dreams
Back to the Future. Not only is it a classic movie, it is a helpful maxim to consider when thinking about your career. Back to the future means thinking about goals for your future self and then working backwards to figure out how to achieve those goals. In other words, planning for the future is the first step to getting the impact job of your dreams.
But career paths aren’t always linear in social impact, making it a challenge to plan for the future. Perhaps in the impact economy we need to reframe the concept of job search. Rather than seeking out jobs, we should be searching for opportunities and experiences that build towards our goals, allowing us to build a skill set over time.
Rather than seeking out jobs, we should be searching for opportunities and experiences that build towards our goals, allowing us to build a skill set over time.
While it’s impossible to anticipate all the ways life may change, you can start by imagining the life you want to have. One practical way to do this is to imagine what your life will look like in 5 or 10 years time. Specifically, write out in paragraph form a day in your life- everything from the job you have to the activities you are doing. What does a day in your life look like in 2027? Are you a VP of Philanthropy at a Fortune 500 company? A successful intrapraneur who launched your company’s award winning sustainability initiative? Maybe you’ve just been featured as the nation’s most successful social entrepreneur. Or perhaps you are on the board of the country’s biggest charity or you’re giving a TED talk to thousands of people. Who do you want to be and what do you want to be doing if everything you wished for could come true?
Who do you want to be and what do you want to be doing if everything you wished for could come true?
You’ve probably heard the term ‘what gets measured, gets managed’ so too what gets recorded, gets real. While it may not be as pithy as the former, articulating the career and life you want in the future often leads to reality. Write out for yourself a day in your life, with the idea that whatever you write will happen. Then review it every six months to a year to see how you’re doing. This thought experiment is from Tim Ferris’ podcast interview with Debbie Millman- where she describes an exercise she uses with her students to ‘design the life you want’ (tune to 1:33:51 to listen to Millman describe her exercise to Ferris).
What gets recorded, gets real.
Now you can ask yourself what are you doing today to help you achieve your future tomorrow? What skill sets and experiences do you need to get to achieve your goals. That is the essence of thinking back to the future.
I want to hear from you. What role has planning played in your career? Do you wish you had planned more or maybe you’re successful because you didn’t plan. Let me know in the comments below.