Sep 27, 2016

    Plan a career bucket list for job fulfilment

    SOME to-do items on a person's bucket list can include grand goals that lead to mountain-top experiences and watershed moments.

    Or they could be an everyday target like having afternoon tea with one's elderly parents thrice a week.

    You can do something similar while managing your career too, by creating a professional bucket list.

    It can help push you beyond your comfort zone and give you something to strive towards.

    Creating a career bucket list may be an especially interesting exercise if you have recently had a fresh lease on a new job - as did 10,000 people who landed a job in the first half of this year after seeking help from the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).

    It was reported in The Straits Times last month that about 4,000 of these employees were professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

    The remaining 6,000 were rank-and-file workers.

    But rather than letting the daily momentum of a new job lead you along, start with the end in mind.

    Draw up a professional bucket list so you know what you want to aim for. Here is a guide on how to go about doing it.


    Set aside 30 minutes of undisturbed time, with notebook and pen in hand.

    Write down all the things you want to accomplish in your work life, junking all limiting thoughts about what's not possible.


    When you were a child, what were your career aspirations? Add these ideas to your bucket list.

    When time seems to fly, what activities are you engaged in? What activities do you enjoy and are good at?

    Also, consider the types of roles you enjoy and are comfortable in.


    Now, for the reality check. Given your age, do you have enough time to accomplish all the things on your list?

    Categorise your professional bucket list by decades - what do you want to accomplish in your career in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s?


    Break down big career goals into smaller ones, so you are not overwhelmed.

    What special skills and experiences do you need to accomplish your career goals and how do you plan to acquire these necessary skills and experiences?

    A tip would be to have an "accountability partner" who can help you to achieve your goals.

    Ask yourself: With your current work situation, can you realistically work towards your medium-term goals?

    If you answered no, but the career goal is important to you, work with your bucket list buddy on the changes you can put in place to make it happen.

    Managing your career with a career bucket list is a neat way to set clear goals and hold yourself accountable.

    However, if you are casting about with a more basic question, such as "What should I do with my life?", it's prudent to get back to basics.

    You can start by learning the difference between a job, a career and a calling. (see table)

    People who have a career calling accomplish more, are more satisfied, and lead a more enjoyable and fulfilled career life, says Bill Barnett, a professor at Rice University who wrote the book, The Strategic Career: Let Business Principles Guide You.

    However, don't beat yourself up if a job or a career is what you are comfortable with.

    As a professional, you owe it to yourself to identify a higher goal too.

    To orientate yourself to your calling, think about your values related to service, excellence at your craft, and institution-building.

    Next, think about the fields and roles within your areas of excellence.

    Apart from attempting the steps in the bucket list exercise, do one more.

    Write an article about yourself that will be published in a prominent newspaper in 20 years' time.

    What bucket list items would you like to have to accomplished and mentioned in the story then?

    Your career calling story may surprise you.

    Then if it is within your means, familial commitments taken into consideration, start chasing your newfound dream.

    This article was contributed by Right Management, the global career experts within United States-listed HR consulting firm, ManpowerGroup.