Skip to main content

The Discovery Cycle

A Model for Career Development/Change

The Discovery Cycle

To a large extent, moving forward in your career and life is about learning from your experiences and overcoming the obstacles so you can strive to create the future you want.

The good news is you can learn these skills. One model you can use is called the Discovery Cycle, an assessment tool created by Dreamsheet. It is based on the premise that human beings must go through a personal learning or discovery process to create the future they want.

There are four distinct steps in this process of discovery:

Step 1: Projecting a Vision

It is often best to start this process with a description of the future you want to create -- something you can picture, like a movie projected on a screen. It should be very meaningful to you and become a source of energy and commitment. Even if you aren't sure what you really want, making your best guess enables you to begin exploring it more. Refining that vision over time is how you can create the future you really want. Without a stake in the ground, you will never get closer to your vision.

Step 2: Taking Action

Executing a plan is how you can move closer to turning your vision into reality. Like an actor in a movie, it is turning a good script into a great performance. Executing a plan is all about taking specific, concrete steps toward your vision. Good plans are realistic, specific and always focused on moving forward. Since visions are usually longer term and can seem almost too big to achieve, executing a plan lets you break a long journey into shorter trips.

Step 3: Experiencing Results

Evaluating results is how you get feedback from the world around you, so you know how close you are to achieving your vision. It's the feeling actors get when the audience applauds or the critics pan their performance. Evaluating results is sifting through this sea of sensory input to find evidence that your actions are working. Being as objective as possible is important, since even bad news can offer tremendous learning and insight.

Step 4: Reflecting on Lessons

This is sometimes the most difficult and essential part of the Discovery Cycle. It can turn bad news into great insights -- about the world and about yourself. The truth is, as long as you are willing to learn, you can create the future you want. The more clearly you see yourself and the world around you, the sooner you will realize your vision. In fact, the lessons you learn will help you clarify your vision and make it stronger.

You may already do these things to some extent, but most of us are hardwired on one side or another. Ideally, your Discovery Cycle should be balanced. Like the tires on your car, the more balanced and fully inflated your cycle, the smoother the ride and the more likely you'll get to where you really want to go.  

Articles in This Feature:

[Ian Christie founded BoldCareer.com to help individuals build bold, fulfilling careers and help organizations attract, develop and retain talent. A career coach, consultant, three-time entrepreneur, former senior director at Monster and former retained executive search consultant, Ian is an expert in the fields of careers and recruitment. He believes that career management is a central theme to both personal and organizational effectiveness. BoldCareer.com offers career services to companies and individuals as well as free career resources.]