Workshopping your future

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We don’t need a crystal ball to work out what’s coming. Life is… pretty predictable. Sure, some things change, if you want to get an inkling of how things are going to turn out you can follow in the footsteps of those who’ve come before.

Not literally, none of us will tread the exact same path, but if you take a broad view then you can make some predictions about what will happen next. So, let’s go through an activity which helps you work out what may be in your future…


Step 1 – What does your most likely path look like?

We all have a path that we’ll follow from here, and unless you choose to step off (or something happens that makes you change) you’ll go on down that pathway. I’m talking about the path of least resistance, and it’s actually the path you’re already on.

If you take a minute to think, you’ll be able to get more of an idea of what your most likely pathway looks like. Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What are your grades like right now? I don’t want you to think about what they could be, I want you to think about where you’re actually headed, based on your real grades right now. With your existing grades, would you be able to get an apprenticeship or traineeship, or could you qualify for an ATAR?
  2. What kinds of things do you like to do? Are you spending all your spare time outdoors, do you live for the weekend (and your social life), or are you always asking questions about how things work?
  3. What drives you? Are you competitive, is it all about the money, are you looking for social status, or do you want to build your knowledge?

The chances are good that, unless something changes, you’ll most likely be doing the same things and driven by the same motivations throughout your life.


Step 2 – What happens if we introduce change?

There are two kinds of change – the kind we choose to set in motion, and the change we don’t see coming. For this reason, we’re going to think about some alternative possible future pathways that may come about if things change.

What happens if you choose to change?

If you don’t like the idea of the pathway you’re currently on, then there are some things you can do about it. For example, if you want to become a physiotherapist but your grades aren’t quite good enough to get into university, then you can choose to change your study habits and improve your grades so that you can change your pathway. This is a choice you can make – it’s under your control.

What pathways will be open to you if you choose to change one part of your life? What happens if you move, work harder, start a new hobby, try running a business, or do work experience?

What happens if something changes that we didn’t expect?

Unexpected change is a completely normal part of life (learn more about the Chaos Theory of Careers here). You may meet someone who offers you a great job, travel overseas and fall in love, or have an accident which changes how you work forever. It’s harder to predict what could happen when change is outside of your control, but for the purposes of this activity it’s worth thinking about the possibilities.


Step 3 – Play pretend

Now you have some ideas about what may be possible in your future, it’s time to work out what life would look like in those scenarios. Obviously, you can’t predict exactly what your life is going to look like, but you can make some general assumptions which will help you make decisions about those pathways.

For each pathway, work out:

  • The type of place you will live – in the city, overseas, will you be moving often, or will you need to relocate to a specific place?
  • How hard you will work – how many hours do people in those pathways normally work, and how competitive is it?
  • How long will it take you to get there? Some pathways are quicker than others, so how many additional years do you need to spend in training, and are you ok with that?
  • How much can you earn? Some pathways start out quite high, but offer limited scope for future growth. Will you be able to earn the sort of salary you’d like?
  • Whether you’re interested in it – do you get excited about the topic, or are you attracted by all the other stuff

And once you’re done, it’s time to reflect. You’ll need to let things percolate, so take a step back and give yourself space to think about these options, and play pretend – imagine what your life may be like in different scenarios. If there are gaps in your knowledge about a pathway, try to fill them –speaking with someone in the job can be helpful here.

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