The term future work self refers to an individual's representation of himself or herself in the future that reflects his or her hopes and aspirations in relation to work. The clearer and more accessible this representation, the more salient the future work self. An initial study with 2 samples (N = 397; N = 103) showed that future work self salience was distinct from established career concepts and positively related to individuals' proactive career behavior. A follow-up longitudinal analysis, Study 2 (N = 53), demonstrated that future work self salience had a lagged effect on proactive career behavior. In Study 3 (N = 233), we considered the role of elaboration, a further attribute of a future work self, and showed that elaboration motivated proactive career behavior only when future work self salience was also high. Together the studies suggest the power of future work selves as a motivational resource for proactive career behavior. Link to the article
STRAUSS, K., GRIFFIN, M.A. and PARKER, S.K. (2012). Future Work Selves: How salient hoped-for identities motivate proactive career behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(3), pp. 580-589.