It’s that time of the year again, when we reflect on what we’ve achieved, and recontract with ourselves about our hopes and dreams for the year ahead. This internal contemplation is no doubt spurred by the holiday season, a break from the go-go-go of the rest of the year, offering time to think and evaluate. Our goals often include things like fitness or weight targets, reading or sleeping more, spending more time with family or achieving more balance, being friendlier or more positive, or giving up bad habits.
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other”
Social media is awash with suggestions about how to stick to our resolutions like:
Others recognise that the sources of resolutions aren’t necessarily healthy themselves, including envy or pride. For example, Frances Mensah Williams, author and editor/publisher, gives this advice: “Forget about being perfect in 2018 and settle for being your own fabulous self”. She sets out three ideas in her LinkedIn article:
The short-term nature of resolutions (and how tough it is to stick with them) got me thinking about the long-term instead. How do we set, progress towards, measure and achieve multi-decade goals? Our 5 decade-long careers are one example of this. Are there any approaches which can help us to picture these in our minds?
One construct which we find helpful at Protagion is the concept of a career timecapsule. Timecapsules are collections of objects that are preserved at a specific time, and then reopened in the future. Some see them as unique ways of communicating with future generations to show them what life was like in our time. We at Protagion use them in a career context as a thought experiment to envisage how your 70-year old self would feel when looking through the career timecapsule you’ve just opened.
Typical physical timecapsule contents are newspaper articles, recordings (of music, for example), books, coins, stamps, or flags. More unique items include a piece of the Berlin Wall. Some have included predictions e.g. a booklet called 2063 AD contains predictions by scientists, politicians, astronauts and military commanders about the state of space exploration in that year. A forward-looking view is a valuable addition to the “snapshot in time” function of other items in the capsule.
Timecapsules can be preserved by universities, cities, companies, and individuals, and some examples are:
The timespan between preservation and specified opening is typically 50 or 100 years. Some (like the Westinghouse capsules) have a 5000 year wait! In Amarillo Texas four time capsules were buried in 1968, with durations of 25, 50, 100, and 1000 years each.
For your career timecapsule, we suggest a 50 year total timeframe from when you start working. Think about what you would put into the timecapsule that would summarise the current state of your career and accomplishments, so that the ‘future you’, phasing into retirement around 70, would be excited to open it and remember. What memories would you like a career timecapsule you open up then to have in it?
If you like, you could create a physical timecapsule (suitably sealed and protected against the impact of time) with copies of items important to you. Photographs and paper are better than electronic copies because of the speed at which formats change over time. And, plan to add an additional capsule each decade over time, so that you ultimately have one each from your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s to reopen and rediscover.
To extend the thought experiment, consider the future decades of work you’ll be doing, and what you’d currently like to be putting in those capsules. You may even want to include career predictions of your own in each decade’s capsule.
And, for those of us who’ve lived through one or more of the decades already, think back on how you felt then, and what items you would have placed into those capsules. Which moments or items from your past career would you say were defining?
To get you thinking, here are some ideas from Protagion’s engagement with our members:
Please let us know in the comments what you would previously have put, and would now put, into your personal career timecapsules, and how these could potentially shape your future career. And, looking forward, what predictions would you make or long-term goals would you set for yourself?