We make choices every day that affect the rest of our lives. Scary, but true. The personal choices we make we can generally deal with pretty well. It doesn't take a lot of planning. We can adapt. Life goes on.

Professionally, living by the same rule doesn't always apply. In the world of the Cloud, working in IT right now is a unique time and there's a lot of variables that make the next 3-5 years unclear. You see, in my day, you started out at an entry level position (usually Helpdesk personnel) and worked your way up the IT ladder. That's just the way things worked. But, now, with the Cloud becoming ever present, you have to take the time to sit down and envision where you want to be, professionally, in 5 years. You have to take time to plan and prepare.

In my younger years, I worked as a stock boy for Odd Lots (now branded as Big Lots). Luckily, I've always been a hard worker and never really required anything in return. My fulfillment has always been just doing a good job. So, the day they offered me a manager position, I quit and walked away. I didn't see myself being a retail manager at a closeout store for the rest of my life. Fortunately, that was the right decision or I would have never gotten into technology and would have never found my calling in the IT world.

Later, as an IT engineer at a large, global accounting firm, they offered me the opportunity to move into management. I declined the upgrade. If I had accepted the position I would have had to stop getting my hands dirty in technology (which I loved!), and start dealing with corporate politics. I'd watch my manager, at the time, have to deal with the sordid political affairs and it made me feel sorry for him. So, there was no way I was going to assume his role and shoulder his burdens. Again, that was not my vision for my career.

We all have a vision of what makes us truly happy. Working in IT can, a lot of times, seem so reactive that you just get lost in the job. Putting out fires, answering user questions, or kicking off planning the next CTO-driven initiative makes you forget your vision and succumb to the daily grind. Each of us has a sense of our professional goals and we know when a direction doesn't feel right. As an IT person right now, the next 3-5 years will be interesting. Cloud adoption is moving at such a fantastic pace you deserve a chance to take a breath and plan for your own professional career. Do you have a sense of what your job will look like in 5 years?

At Windows IT Pro, I believe part of our job is to help you reach your professional goals. Part of that is to ensure you have the technical knowledge to accomplish your daily tasks, but we should also provide you with defined guidelines to ensure that your goals are reached.

Let's pretend for a minute that the Cloud will change everything. In 5 years from now, the IT world could look dramatically different – almost unrecognizable. Take a look through our Truth in IT series, for a list of technologies that you should consider learning and directions you should take to guarantee that you will have an extended life in IT and that your professional vision will endure.