Have a Strategy

They say that if you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there. Maybe you will accept that secondment to another department. Perhaps you will take a year off to travel. Why not an MBA program before making the switch to a new industry? Or is it that you would prefer to stay where you are because the pay is competitive, the work is enjoyable, and you finally got the parking spot you had been waiting for?

None of these are objectively bad decisions. In fact, they could all be very good decisions. But they are just decisions if you do not know where you want to go.

In chess, you are taught to play with the endgame in mind. Early game moves determine the mid-game opportunities available which then dictate the endgame positions you can achieve. Thus, a player is behooved to ask themselves as early as possible whether the moves that they are making will set them up for the best possible endgame.

Career strategy should be approached in the same way. Start with an objective as far into the future as you’re reasonably confident about desiring and work backwards, getting more detailed as you approach present day. If you know where you want to be, you can narrow down which decisions will get you closer and which will not.

Otherwise, any road will take you there.

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