Ask any mid- to late-career professional, “Did you see yourself doing what you’re doing now when you were twenty-two?” and more often than not, they will laugh. Very few people follow a linear career path throughout their career. Instead, most people follow opportunities as they emerge through their life experiences. They learn things about themselves and their field of interest, and over time, they begin to spot trends or see opportunities that they couldn’t have imagined when they were younger. (I didn’t even dream of being a writer until I was in my midthirties, and now I’ve published six books in twelve years.)
My friend Mitch Joel calls this the “squiggly line.” When you look back on a career, you can clearly see how you got from point A to point B, but it’s something you couldn’t have imagined from the beginning. That’s because it’s not typically the job or industry that’s the through line; it’s the unique skills being called out of the individual.
As you consider your next few career steps, ask these questions:
►What patterns do I see right now that I’m uniquely positioned to take advantage of ?
►What aptitudes have I developed that I couldn’t have foreseen two or ten years ago?
►What opportunities excite me right now that I may not have even known about before?
Pay attention to the patterns, and follow the squiggly line.
Most careers are squiggly lines. They only make sense in reverse.
As you consider your future career moves, what excites you the most?