Want a Better Career? Examine Your Daydreams

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Career exploration really begins within our own imaginations — long before we utter a single word or visit a job site.

The dynamic is often a very quick exercise within our mind’s eye. However, it is a vital step in the career growth process. How we visualize our future matters. When you envision your future. What do you see? An expanded role? Success in that role? Failure?

I happened to be reading an article about mindfulness yesterday — particularly discussions about carving out space between a stimulus that we might encounter, and our reaction to it. (See a discussion of the one-second rule here.) Research has revealed that taking a moment to suspend making a decision, forming an opinion or choosing a behavior, can have a significant impact upon our work lives.

That had me thinking about what we envision as we consider our own abilities or potential in the future.

Conventional thinking tells us that all human beings seek pleasure and avoid pain. Yet, research has shown that our own regulatory focus — or the way we typically approach risk — plays a role. Some of us are more naturally promotion focused and embrace more risk; others choose a safer path and are more naturally prevention focused. (Read more about that here.)

So, when you daydream about other paths, do you dismiss yourself too quickly? Pass over a path that may be fruitful long-term, because of a concern about the risk?

Do you have moments when you consider yourself in a non-reactive way? Moreover, is it possible that a prevention focus holds you back?

We cannot build fantastic career paths, if we cannot fully consider all of the possibilities. Yes, there are inherent risks. However, we can become aware of our reactions to those risks and manage the associated fear.

If you respond with an immediate “nay” when contemplating a pivot or challenge, be mindful of your own natural tendency in that regard. When you pause at that window of possibility — envision yourself succeeding, not drowning — and see what that brings. If possible, be aware of an overactive drive to prevent failure.

I challenge you to hold on to the possibilities just a bit longer.

What steps will you take to help make those dreams a reality?

Do your daydreams help or hinder you? Share your perspective.

Read more about it:

Live.Work.Think.Play shares observations concerning a wide array of topics from running a company — to the perfect gift. It is designed to share lessons learned from a variety of perspectives.

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