Are you frustrated because you haven’t found your career path?

You are not alone. There’s a true story about a young graduate who tried 8 different jobs in 2 years.

Now, he wasn’t job-hopping because he’s lazy, in fact he did very well in his studies, went to good schools, and the companies he got into were big brands and good companies. 

But he was doing it because he heard Steve Jobs saying “…the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

So he wants to quickly find that ONE career path he loves and follow it for the rest of his life. 

But… that’s the wrong way to think about Career Paths.

And if we don’t change the way we think, chances are, we’ll be lost in our careers for the rest of our lives.

So why do we feel this is the wrong way to think about our Career Paths? Is there a better way to think about your Career Path today?

Many of us think of “Career Paths” as “Career Tracks”. And we got this thinking from School which has “Education Tracks”. 

For example, if you want to be an engineer, there is an engineering track for you. If you want to be an accountant, there is an accounting track for you.

Because all of us went through these “Education Tracks”, many of us come out of school looking for “Career Tracks”. 

Back in our grandparents’ generation, yes, Career Paths were like “Train Tracks”.

You have a clear start point; a clear end point; and a fixed route.

All you need to do is to get on the right Career Track, and the Train (which is the Company or Industry you join) will take you to your destination (which is Retirement).

And it used to work for the people in those days. 

But the world has changed. Companies no longer hire people for life.

“Career Tracks” no longer exists. “Career Paths” are no longer “Career Tracks”.

By the time it came to our parents’ generation, Career Paths became more like “Road Networks”.

There’s no fixed start points, no fixed end points, no fixed routes at all.

So, how do you find your Career Path?

Well, it goes something like this: 

Imagine it’s your first time in a foreign land, let’s say, Hokkaido, Japan. 

You want to go to a destination that you’ve never gone before. 

There’s No GPS, No Map, No Grab.

What do you do?

First, you find out the general direction, and set off.

Then along the way, look out for road signs, and ask people for directions.

It’s the same for your career.

When you first come out from school, the working world feels like a foreign land to you. 

What do you do?

Don’t go around job-hopping looking for “Career Tracks”. They don’t exist anymore.

Instead, decide on a general career direction, and set off. Along the way, look out for signs, and ask seniors or mentors for directions.

To give you an example, let’s say, you have an interest in Media.

You decide on a general career direction in Media, and you look for a job there.

While working in Media, you discover your interest in Marketing. 

Soon your interest narrows to Advertising. 

Then you find out from mentors, that Advertising have gone into New Media. 

And you finally decide on a career in New Media Advertising.

This is how people find their desired careers in our parents’ generation.

But… the world has changed again, and this level of thinking is not enough.

Today, in our generation, Career Paths are like LEGO pieces.

So now, imagine you are in a LEGO movie. You want to go somewhere and you have decided on your general direction. 

But in this LEGO landscape, pieces come and go any minute. Some roads and bridges disappear. But at the same time, new ones appear.

To progress, you need to either (1) find these new routes, (2) or create your own path.

It’s the same for your career. 

Because of A.I. and disruptive technology, the career landscape is changing quickly, like in a LEGO movie. 

The career path you’re aiming for may disappear. But at the same time, new ones will appear. 

So what do you do?

(1) Be prepared to change paths, (2) or carve out your own path.

So in summary, here’s a better way to think about your Career Path.

Drop the fixed “career track” mindset.

Decide on a general career direction and set off.

Look out for career signs, and ask seniors or mentors for directions.

And finally, be prepared for paths to disappear, and to find new paths, or create your own path.

So over to you now. Do you feel this is a better way to think about your Career Path? Let us know in the comments below.