Over the years, I have been asked to help clients and colleagues think through the next steps in their careers. I love helping people envision their future, and have facilitated career visioning sessions on a friend-to-friend basis. They have been very powerful, and one colleague renamed them “Possibility Parties”. Here’s how they work:
Plan for a 2.5 – 3 hour process followed by a lunch or a food celebration. Saturday mornings seem to work very well.
Invite a group of 5 – 8 people including the host (the person wanting to envision a different future). This group becomes the “Board of Advisors”. The guest list could include:
- Someone who has always thought more highly of your abilities than you did (a mentor)
- Someone much younger than you (to bring the perspective of youth)
- Someone who has made many changes in their career or life (to bring the perspective of change)
- Someone who has done something very bold in their choices (to bring the perspective of courage)
- Family members and friends
The person hosting this event often feels reluctant to ask people to give up three hours just to talk about their career but the feedback from participants is ALWAYS that they feel honored to be asked to be part of the conversation and that it benefited them as well. The host can also feel a bit uncomfortable being the centre of attention but I advise them that although their life and career is the focus of the conversation, the topic is universal and people are also thinking about themselves.
I encourage the host to do some preparation by reflecting on their life so far, key turning points, accomplishments, disappointments, people important to them and the way they influenced life choices, etc. Some people write a story that they read; other just make jot points they can use when we do the “reflections on life and career” part of the conversation.
I work as the facilitator, but any guest could take on this role. I record the key discussion points on a flipchart and produce a meeting memory for the host.
Keep the process fluid, conversational and exploratory. A typical flow of topics would be:
- Opening introductions, get to know each other
- The host’s reflections on their life and career, and sharing what is important in the next career move
- Stories that guests think of when they remember the host at his or her best
- What are the host’s unique assets and attributes?
- What adjectives and images are part of the host’s personal brand?
- What options and possibilities exist for the next career move?
- What resources and connections can guests offer the host?
- Host summarizes with next steps
Play with this design. I think you will find the process joyful and rewarding for all involved.