Career Bites #11: Be a Short Term Pragmatist

The Career Bite: Be a Short Term Pragmatist

Got a big vision for your future? Awesome!!! Now you’ve got to be patient. Anything you can dream up, you can achieve, but great accomplishments take time. So in addition to being a Long Term Visionary, you’ve got to be a Short Term Pragmatist. Recognize your vision for your career will take a few steps to achieve. Your first job, probably won’t be “it.” But even Rome began with a single stone. Take steps in the short term that get you closer to your long term vision.

For example, if your vision includes starting your own company and you are very interested in technology today, what are some steps you could take to get closer to being entrepreneur-ready and savvier about technology? You could…

  • Take a coding class
  • Do an internship with a startup
  • Start following the blogs of successful entrepreneurs
  • Consider a fulltime job in a bigger company that gives you a firm foundation of business skills (think consulting, product management, venture capital)
  • Transition from your current firm to a smaller more entrepreneurial one in your field

Weigh your short term options against your long term vision, and make choices that move you in the right direction.

More to chew on

Last week we talked about creating a long term vision that inspires you and using it like a North Star in your career. This is one of the best cures for both Option Paralysis and Short Term Myopia. But practically speaking, you need to both begin with the end in mind and start where you are. If your long term vision is to be CEO of a major company and today you are an engineer, you will need to take many steps to achieve that vision. Use the vision to organize your short term options. Some questions to ask:

  1. Given that I one day want to be CEO, what skills will I need to develop?
  2. What kinds of relationships do I need to have?
  3. What experiences am I lacking that will make me an effective CEO?
  4. Do I know exactly what kind of company I want to run? What industry/product/service? If not how will I decide? If so, what else do I need to learn about that industry/product/service to be a leader in the space?
  5. Which opportunities that are available to me right now get me the most of what I need?

This last question is the most important. Once you understand what you need, you want to weigh your short term options against those needs and pick the ones that get you furthest. It is this process that leads so many people to business school. While an MBA isn’t really a necessary step for anyone, it is certainly an accelerator towards the career endgame for most.

Use this framework every time you need to make a major career decision, and you will maximize the likelihood of making confident choices that get you where you want to go fast.

Famous Philly Cheesesteak with broccoli rabe at DiNic's, Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia, PA, USA.