Are you in the right career? Ask yourself these questions


Dorie Clark, author of “The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World”.

We spend our days answering emails, going to meetings, checking to-do lists, and as our careers progress we sometimes wonder if we’ve chosen the right trade or if our lives weren’t better spent doing something else. . Rather than taking the time to answer these big questions, we focus on tasks for today or this week.

In the new book “The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World,” published by Harvard Business Review this fall, author and professor Dorie Clark argues for another path. She argues that many of us need to think deeper and be more proactive about the direction in which we are heading.

Some people are on paths that will lead to dissatisfaction and regret if they don’t, Clark says, while others continue to turn around before they can make the breakthroughs they want.

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CNBC interviewed Clark this week about the messy job of building and sustaining a career. The exchange has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Annie Nova: You write that our psychology makes us think too much in the short term. How? ‘Or’ What?

Dorie Clark: Often times when we are faced with a situation where we do not know what to do, either because it is tactically complex: “How do we increase sales by 20% next year?” “- or existentially complex -” Should I really be in this position or do something else? – it’s much easier for us to put our heads down and keep working on the same things we were doing rather than stepping back and asking uncomfortable questions.

AN: We seem to really want to avoid existential questions.

DC: In modern western society, work has become the place of meaning for many people. If we start to worry that we are on the wrong track or not progressing as much as we would like, it can be extremely uncomfortable.

AN: But what are the consequences of not doing this reflection?

DC: If we are smart and motivated enough, we will hit our targets, but it can become uncomfortable and even tragic if it turns out belatedly that our targets were the wrong ones from the start.

AN: Ouch. How can we try to find out as early as possible if our targets are wrong?

DC: The first question to really analyze is whether the goal is intrinsic or extrinsic. Do you pursue this goal because it is something that matters to you or do you execute a scenario that you have internalized based on what society thinks is a good idea, or what people around you think is? a good idea ?

AN: If they find out they’re following a script, how can people turn to more self-determined goals?

CC: The societal story is that everyone must find their passion. But this framing can be crippling. It’s much easier to have the space to find out what you love and what you’re good at if you instead focus on answering the question, “What do you find interesting?” Overall, we need to keep things lighter while we’re in the discovery phase.

AN: For those who are confident in their ambitions, but doubt themselves or struggle, what is your advice?

DC: Again, if we look too closely at the entire task, whether it’s writing a book or being promoted to senior vice president, it can seem overwhelming. But if we are able to move forward in very small ways each day, this activity will get worse and the sense of momentum will keep us motivated. I also like to ask myself regularly, “What can I do today that will make tomorrow easier or better?” “

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