Why? Reunions—especially those within the first 20 years of your career—encourage short-term thinking, says Bell, chair of Harvard business school’s marketing department. They make you obsess about what you’ve already accomplished instead of staying focused on your career goals. You might even be tempted, Bell suggests, to manage your life toward a reunion.
For instance, you might take a job you don’t want so you can pay for a fancy car. That kind of thinking yields smart, talented people with impressive titles in high-paying but fluffy occupations. It makes you avoid risk.
Follow these three steps to work at what suits you. Eventually, you’ll arrive at where you really want to go:
1. Determine the kinds of rewards—material and spiritual—you want from your work.
2. Remain open to accepting a wide range of outcomes. Whenever people see a career path as too risky, Bell says, it’s almost always because they’re not flexible enough.
3. Take the long view. In the context of decades, one little choice here or there won’t seem like such a big deal. Reunion-goers worry about short-term yields. Then, when you’re invited to your 25-year reunion, go.
— Adapted from Remember Who You Are, Daisy Wademan with David Bell, Harvard Business School Press.
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