The Silencing of Career Vision

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Most of us keep our wildest career dreams under wraps. I’m convinced this is completely normal. (What we value most — is always the most heavily protected.) When I decided to become a psychologist, I really didn’t know my own mind or what I had to offer. Over the years that picture has become more defined. It developed. It has also pivoted from the original dream that flashed through my mind’s eye at 17.

That is also completely normal.

When we are young, everyone asks about our career “dreams”. Where we want to go, what we would like to contribute. As we get older — not as much. We stop envisioning and we can start to “settle”. Just like the newly poured foundation of a house.

I believe that is where organizations lose their best people to disengagement. Either managers do not have the time and training to discuss such things or contributors aren’t encouraged to force the conversation. The best places to work, get things done. But career vision is in the corner of their eye. It isn’t ignored.

They acknowledge that when work life stagnates, the end is around the corner.

That is why it is critical to dreams. To envision.

In that way, we can flesh out what is there (or not).

In that way we can hammer out a path or at least away to incorporate that passion.

I challenge you to share your next dream chapter with 3 people.

Consider how that vision can become (at least in part) a reality.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

5 thoughts on “The Silencing of Career Vision

  1. Very powerful. And timely. Meeting needs, saying yes, being “useful” – can strangle the envisioning process. Sharing with three others, that will mean formulating boundaries and actually fleshing out what has become mostly vapor and wishfulness. Thank you. Your posts are great. Me, I’m grateful.

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  2. I liked the article. I knew as a high school student from my very first day in a factory that manufacturing was my home. I love a plant. After a couple of engineering degrees an MBA and several years working my career dream got distilled to a couple of basic beliefs. Be willing to do your time; always add value; and believe that one day it will pay off. I have taken every assignment nobody else wanted and have spent a 25+ yr career apprenticing for a COO spot. I still believe in it and still think one day it will pay off. Dreams can change but be sure they changed for the right reason and not because you are giving in.

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  3. Who I want to be when I grow up keeps changing over the course of my career as I learn more about myself. Each step along the way helps me recognize what I like to do and what I don’t like to do. I wish hiring managers would abolish the question ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 – 10 years?’ because it seems so disingenuous to say I have that figured out when the things I value naturally change over time. When I started my career I often heard hiring managers say if I can’t see you moving up one or two positions in this organization I wouldn’t hire you. Or I’m looking for my replacement when I move up, etc. Just seems unheard of these days. I blame it on the Millennials who keep messing things up for us Gen-Xers. Ha-ha. Always enjoy your posts.

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  4. Very interesting viewpoint but sometimes stories and dreams feel proprietary. If I share my dream, I won’t be “all in” and promotions, etc will stay on the team. Sometimes, dreams shift, too, and we can’t be afraid to adjust the sails.

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