A great forward, this is a really good article for our current times and calls me out for a question I ask employees regularly during year end meetings – “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Though I quibble with the conclusion that the question itself is the problem, I will say that the author points out quite legitimately is that the answer to this question will likely be framed around assumptions of the workforce that aren’t valid in our current times – namely, that you can actually make a plan around circumstances that remain static. As everyone knows, including those in the federal government these days, this just isn’t case anymore.
Where we would usually expect that careers could be advanced through reliable promotion opportunities this is no longer the case in the current environment. While this can lead to legitimate frustration and disengagement, this article offers a useful alternative perspective – instead of choosing a specific plan, choose a direction that you want to take and strategize about the steps you can take to get there. Plan for a skill that you want to acquire or a more general goal that you want to reach instead of a specific plan for a specific position.
This concept aligns well with some of the ideas elaborated in the recent book, “Little Bets”. One idea discussed in this book is that you shouldn’t make an elaborate plan and stick to it by the letter to reach your goal. Doing this means that you may reach a conclusion that no longer makes sense when you arrive, and it may also mean that you have missed opportunities to refine your strategies to something more relevant along the way.