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One's abilities and intelligence are not fixed traits. There is so much more that can be achieved through pushing those possibilities. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Imagine yourself in the year 2033. What do you see yourself doing? What do you think will change over the next decade? Are you ready for that?

Careers are constantly evolving, and many that weren't in vogue 10 years ago are in high demand. Social media, mobile apps, big data, cloud computing, climatetech, and cryptocurrency are just a few examples. To stay relevant in this rapidly changing landscape, it's essential to cultivate a mindset that adapts.

Career enhancements can certainly do with planning - and a Long Game Mindset. Debu Mishr/Irish Eden R. Belleza

Career growth is not about simply climbing the career ladder - It's about believing that with effort, dedication, and perseverance, we can develop our abilities, intelligence, and talents. This mindset is grounded in the realization our abilities and intelligence are not fixed traits but can be improved and expanded over time through practice, learning, and resilience.

Our brain gets in the way

Our brain has two processing systems - the 'intention' system and the 'habit' system. When we do something for the first time it requires intention, attention, and planning. This requires mental energy and effort. When we repeat a behaviour in a familiar context, our brain recognizes the pattern and moves the control of that behaviour from intention to habit.

To cultivate a mindset, we must learn to break free from our habits and build our intention. Here are eight steps to cultivate a ‘Long Game Mindset’:

Move from short-term thinking about our careers to a long-term mindset

Build your career intent in multi-year horizons of 3- or 5 years. Step away from the habit of looking at your career in annual cycles.

Recognise and challenge your beliefs

Pay attention to your thoughts and beliefs about your abilities and challenges. Notice if you have any beliefs, such as thinking that your abilities cannot change or that failure is a sign of incompetence. Don’t get into the habit of accepting your beliefs. Challenge them.

Identify your zone of ‘creative tension’

Your zone of creative tension is that which is not so easy that it is now a habit nor is it impossible that you can’t even attempt it. Instead of avoiding challenges or feeling discouraged by them, seek them as opportunities to learn and grow. Step away from the habit of doing things that come easy to you.

Move your focus from the job to yourself

Focus on what abilities and traits you have and what you need to develop to achieve your multi-year career intent. Articulate your intent as ‘With these abilities, I will be able to…”. (Law of awareness: if you want to change something, first increase your awareness of the way it is.)

Don’t fail to learn

Careers are long games - you get many chances to learn and grow. Falling short on your goals are great learning opportunities – ‘What assumptions in my plan didn’t hold?’ ‘What needs to change in my goal setting?’

Break the habit of accepting your work goals as infallible.

Cultivate curiosity

Develop a genuine curiosity and passion for new learning. See learning as a lifelong process and seek out opportunities to acquire new knowledge and skills. Build the intent and plan every year to seek out six or more people very different from you and spend time with them to understand their world and learn from them. Be wary of the habit of always spending time with like-minded people.

Practice self-compassion

Be kind and compassionate towards yourself when faced with challenges or setbacks. Create the intent to treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend who is facing similar challenges. Don’t get into the habit of self-blame.

Pursue life

The biggest setback to the Long Game Mindset comes from our getting too caught up with our careers. Just like golf or any other sport, where our anxieties and stress creep into our games, it plays out at work too.

A healthy work-life integration is essential for the long game. Being intentional about our life outside of work helps us not get into the habit of giving in to the stress of the short term.

The Long Game Mindset is relevant for us in sports to use to become better at our game. But soon human longevity will surpass 100 years, with 60-year careers, that would require all of us to constantly evolve, reinvent and grow throughout our work life.

Are you ready to embrace a Long Game Mindset?