The subjective perception of time is fascinating. After all, it objectively ticks away one reliable second at a time. There is no deviation. The atomic clock rules.
Yet, there are times when time seems to slow down. We sit at a long traffic light, ensure a boring speech, clean out a basement – we might feel like, “How long has this been going on?” and be surprised it was just a few minutes.
On the other hand, it is good to know there are at least two things that happen really fast — shockingly fast — so you can be prepared. The first is brief and personal; the second relates to you and your career.
Kids leaving home happens fast. I remember bringing my daughter Emma home from the hospital after birth, and in a blink, she is headed off to college. As my colleague Scott Boozer would say, “Yay!” We are thrilled for her, and (we think) we’re all ready. We’ll see about that with some experiential learning in the drive back from drop-off, and yes, we know it is uncool for parents to linger or get all emotional.
Here’s the other thing that happens really fast: your career.
We go to work day by day, navigating the terrain as best we can, getting a promotion here or there, an assignment to here or there. We do what we do, and the days roll into weeks, the weeks into months and then “Wow! I’ve been here 5 years!” What happened?”
That turns into a decade faster than the first 5 years took, and then amazing things start to happen. People start talking about retirement more, the little ones go to college (see above) and start their careers, you notice the retirement account and wonder about how your lifestyle will be. There are more and more retirement parties, the people in your office get younger and younger (and gosh, certainly dress and behave differently than you do!).
It all flies by. In a blink, and maybe before you know what happened, your career is over.
What was your plan? What was your vision for your working life? To get by? To make the mortgage?
Only you can figure out the vision for you. This means the mental picture of the future you want. HR will not tell you, neither will your boss. It’s yours.
It’s good to know what it is that you want, because the clock is ticking. It feels like it is speeding up.