Like millions of American children, I had a Magic 8 Ball when I was growing up. I played with the novelty toy for several years, asking it all kinds of questions and awaiting the answers from the ether with fascination. As I entered my pre-teen years, I would still occasionally ask it questions for my own amusement and laugh at the replies that came out.
One of the phrases I remember that Magic 8 ball spitting out the most was Reply is Hazy. Try Again Later. Maybe it’s because this reply is the one that frustrated me the most as a child, or maybe it was because it felt like a cop out, but this reply was frustratingly common. Receiving this answer made me feel just like I did when my parents would tell me “Wait and see.” Patience was not a virtue I possessed as a child, and that answer was never satisfying.
Anju Jain, head of Human Resources for Caterpillar India, recently published a piece on LinkedIn suggesting that finding success and moving forward in life is difficult if you don’t have a Personal Vision Statement. If we expect executives and leaders to have them, it makes sense for everyone to have a personal vision statement as well. It guides you through your life and career, making it easier to identify success and changes you need to make to guide you to success.
I have to admit that I have been thinking a lot around these “Where are you going?” type issues lately. Two of my friends have recently accepted exciting new positions that are excellent career moves for both of them. I am incredibly proud and happy for both of them.
But I also admit to a certain amount of jealousy. Not because I am envious of them or the opportunities that they have taken, but because they both seem to know exactly where they are going. In the years we have known each other, we have had a lot of lot conversations about our careers. We’ve worked on each other’s resumes. We’ve served as sounding boards for each other with career related issues and opportunities. But while they have launched, I feel stuck on the launchpad.
Part of the issue is that they are both staying in careers they studied for, whereas I want to transition. Changing paths comes with a lot of questions. Do you have to get the education/certifications before you start applying for jobs in order to be taken seriously? Or should you be doing both of them concurrently? What if you don’t have a clear place or sector you want to target in a job search? I feel like I’m back to my childhood, looking at that Magic 8 Ball as it tells me Reply is Hazy. Try Again Later.
The last time I had a clear picture of where I was going, a clear Vision Statement if you will, was in University. It made it easy for me to apply for positions across the country, taking risks on internship positions that might or might not pay off, and pushing me to be better. Now, I have narrowed down that I want to move into Project Management. Project Managers make progress, and I am passionate about making progress towards a goal, rather than being stuck. I enjoy working with people, making sure that everyone is working together towards a single goal. I am good at identifying problems and enjoy finding solutions. I enjoy working with teams to try and figure out how to get around obstacles that present themselves. I enjoy creating progress.
So it is time for me to create a Vision Statement for myself and to take more concrete steps towards getting my questions answered and advancing my career. It’s time for me to find some mentors that can guide me through the transition and in my chosen path. It’s time for me to buckle down on my studies for either Project + or CAPM…hopefully my new mentors can help me determine which certification would be more beneficial. In the words of my Magic 8 Ball, it’s time to Concentrate and Ask Again.