How much time have you dedicated to career planning in the last month? 6 months? Year? If you’re like most people, you haven’t spent much (if any!) time planning your career. And that is the fast track to career obsolescence.
Careers are more complicated than ever. There are no well-defined roadmaps and ‘job security’ is long gone. The skills, experiences, competencies and connections that you need to stay relevant and current in your career path are moving so fast that if you ignore the changes happening around you, you will suddenly find yourself sidelined and wondering what happened.
So, how do we stay at the top of our career game? Grab a cup of coffee, block out time in your calendar and spend some time thinking about the following 5 career areas.
Other than a New Year’s resolution, when was the last time you sat down and created some big goals you were trying to reach? When it comes to your career, you need to think big about who you want to be and create tangible action plans to achieve those goals.
As you’re setting goals, remember to include both career and broader life goals. If all you do is work, work, work you will lose your career edge. Step away from the intoxicating drug of activity for a few minutes and focus on the bigger picture by taking inventory of the broader areas of your life. For example, on a scale of 1 – 10 with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best, how would you rank each of the following areas:
- Family and friends
- Fun, joy and adventure
- Spiritual life
Do you have time carved out for all these areas, or is your current work sucking up all your energy and leaving you drained? By making your career a part of your life, you make room to be a person – not just a drone pumping out work. The carryover from time spent on other areas will help you bring new perspectives, energy and passion to your work.
Know Your Value
People often have a hard time effectively communicating their value. Either they undersell themselves or they over-describe what they do leaving people confused.
Get clear on your value by understanding and articulating the following:
- What are your unique strengths? The book StrengthsFinder 2.0 and online assessment can help you with this
- Define your personal values to find the right opportunities for you
- Uncover where you add the greatest value both in business and personally
Once you understand these areas, find opportunities that allow you to contribute your top talents, skills and competencies. When you’re evaluating projects, employment opportunities and volunteering, be clear in your mind about why you would be valuable to that work as well as what skills and experiences you are gaining.
Create A Support System
Careers are impossible to navigate on your own. You must have a strong support system in place to help you navigate these tricky waters. Take a look at the following categories and try to have at least one person in each of these support areas:
- Personal. This includes family, friends, household help and are the people who either push for work/life balance or enable work/life balance. These should be people who bring you joy and excitement.
- Mentors. There are many different kinds of mentors such as skill, career, leadership, profession, company, alumni, etc… we all need mentors at various points in our career. These are people who have walked in our shoes or done something we really want to accomplish.
- Coaches. There are many kinds of coaches such as executive, skill, lifestyle, spiritual, etc… These are people who have extensive training, passion and skill around a specific area and help guide clients towards achievement of goals they’ve identified for themselves.
- Advocates. These are very valuable to your team. They are fans of you and your work and believe in you. These are people who will put their reputation out there to help you because of their belief in your abilities.
Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for someone to give you permission to take control of your career. Begin to take intentional actions based on the areas above. When you’re clear about the work you’re doing and how you can add the greatest value to each project and your own career, you will be on the path to taking control of your career and charting your own career success.