Now is the time to guide your thinking about work-life future

This time of year is as good as any to think in a structured way about the year to come. Here are some career exercises you might wish to turn your mind to, to guide your thinking about the next steps for you.

IllustrationCredit:Kerrie Leishman
  1. Think about the aspects of work that excite you, and give you energy. These do not have to be elements in your current work, but possibly elements you’ve enjoyed in the past or perhaps things you think you will enjoy in the future.
  2. Make a list of things that you think you are very accomplished at, the things you would like to improve further and the things that you find a struggle. How can you play more to your strengths next year, and how could you improve or remedy the other areas?
  3. Think about the rewards you would ideally like to receive from your work. Think not only about money, but the other aspects that work can offer. Try to rank the following in order of their importance to you: a) pleasant co-workers; b) opportunities to learn new things; c) safe and pleasant work surroundings; d) work outdoors or physically active work; e) work that directly helps others – whether individuals or society as a whole; f) work that is well paid; g) work where you are free to make your own decisions; h) work where you can manage other people; i) work you can forget about at the days end or over the weekend; j) work that allows you to purse other things that matter like family, hobbies, cultural practices or sport; k) work where you can be creative and original in thinking up solutions; l) work that others think is important; and m) work that is secure with little risk of losing your job. Look at the order you’ve placed these in, how does your current role stack up? What actions could you take you get more of the most desired rewards into your work?
  4. Think about how you react to uncertainty in your life. Do you like setting goals? Have you ever found a better goal along the way after setting one? Have you sometimes made decisions based on information you later found out not to be true? How would you feel about loosening your grip on goals?
  5. W

    hat is your relationship with routine like? Do you prefer to be spontaneous, unscripted and free to see how things unfold, or are you happier with everything in place, following a familiar routine? Do you feel trapped into a routine, or anxious you do not have structure? How could you strive to get a balance between having some structure and predictability with being open to novelty and surprise?

  6. What new activities could you engage in over the next 12 months? What could you do online, such as taking a class or course, or getting started on yoga or home fitness? What about networking groups in person, or joining a work-related social media site such as Linkedin?
  7. Who have you lost touch with that you’d like to reconnect with? Who would you like to meet? How could you find them, and how could you reach out ? For instance by email, text or phone, via social media, or perhaps meeting for a coffee or lunch?
  8. Ask two or three trusted friends to answer the questions above, in the way that they see you, and discuss with your friends their perceptions.
  9. Make a list of small steps you think you could possibly take, in response to your answers above. Do not worry about where they will ultimately take you rather be more concerned about ensuring that you are continually trying new things.

Jim Bright, FAPS is Professor of Career Education and Development at ACU and owns Bright and Associates, a Career Management Consultancy. Email to [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @DrJimBright

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