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4 reasons you need to think long-term in your career

4 reasons you need to think long-term in your career

April 17, 2018 by Tony Nguyen

When it comes to building Brand You, thinking exclusively on the short term isn’t an option. The past and the present informs the future but you can only influence the latter, so it’s important to stay aware of how your actions in the here-and-now will affect your career in the future.

Here are four reasons you need to think long-term when it comes to your career.

1. There is always something new to learn

The days of leaving university and thinking you’re done learning  are long over (if they ever even existed, that is). The rapid pace of technological and societal change means there’s always something new to learn. And with a fresh batch of young people entering the workforce each and every year, there is no way you can afford to be complacent in your knowledge. Seek out classes, seminars, online webinars – anything that can keep you competitive over a long career and ready for that next promotion.

There is always something new to learn - don
There is always something new to learn – don’t let yourself fall behind!

2. Time is precious, but also plenty

Time is undoubtedly precious and we shouldn’t waste it.

Sometimes in our youth we can forget how much time there really is in a career. For a 25 year old, reflecting back 10 years sees them in school; for a 55 year old, it takes them back to 45, a point where they’ve probably been established in their career for some time. At retirement age, someone could be reflecting on 40 years or more in a career. Time is undoubtedly precious and we shouldn’t waste it. But that shouldn’t stop us from realising there is also plenty of it, and that we therefore need to plan our careers accordingly.

3. You can’t plan short unless you plan long

Think about where you would like to be in 10 years. A new job? Working for that firm you’ve always dreamed of? Now bring your mind back to the present. What can you do to make that imagined “you” a reality? Well you could do this course, get in touch with that person, look for opportunities in this area, et cetera. The point is, anything you want to plan in the short term can only be so if you have some idea of where you want to be heading. Otherwise, how else would you know what your next step is? 

Knowing for certain what you want from the future isn’t needed, but you at least need to have some perspective on the rough direction you want to head. Otherwise all your day-to-day or year-to-year goals will be exercises in reaction to the past, rather than action towards the future. Take some quiet time to reflect on where you might want to go.

4. Career development is fuelled by compounding gains

The speed at which your career can develop is in many ways tied to how it got to where it is now – that is to say, the fast growth you might experience in your 30s, say, is fuelled by the legwork you did in your 20s. It’s a bit like a bank balance; even if you only get a 2 per cent return each year, the compounding of interest means that in absolute terms you’re gaining more from that return percentage each and every year.

There’s nothing stopping you having a dramatic career change later in life, but the downside is that all your experience in your previous field may count for naught – the massive sum you built up in the metaphorical bank account can disappear.

Your future career growth is dependent on your actions in the present.
Your future career growth is dependent on your actions in the present.

You don’t want to spend the whole of your present lost in thought about the future but you do need to carefully consider your long term career goals and how you’ll reach them.

For more career advice and tips, check out some of our other blog posts!


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