Carving out a satisfying career path is rarely a linear process. Ideas, aims and circumstances change along with time and experience. The best approach is to review them all regularly and thoroughly, writes Blaire Briody for Stanford Business Insights.
Deciding to consciously manage your career means that you will be one step ahead if changes need to happen, instead of reacting when you become desperately dissatisfied, or your job is on the line.
Briody has been picking up tips from Stanford School of Business graduate Michael Melcher. Now an executive coach and author, Melcher’s own successful career has taken a wealth of twists and turns. Using that experience, he has devised a fresh approach to mapping your working life.
EXAMINE THE BIGGER PICTURE.
Commit to examining the bigger picture occasionally and your goals consistently.
Here are some initial questions to ask yourself about values, vision, competency and relationships to determine whether you are currently on the path that is right for you:
- What do I enjoy doing and what am I good at?
- How do I anticipate myself growing? What do I want for myself?
- What is the value I offer to my current business or employer?
- How can I develop further to reach a higher level?
- Who is in my corner to support and mentor me?
GET DOWN TO SPECIFICS.
Melcher says it’s the small things we achieve on a daily basis, rather than big, dramatic changes, that are most important to long-term career progress.
1) Mentally divide your tasks into either ‘important’ or ‘urgent’ categories. Career development is likely to be in the non-urgent list – but it still needs attention if you’re going to progress.
2) Devote 20 minutes a day to a defined non-urgent goal. It’s a small and easy amount of time to find, but the impact will add up when practised consistently.
3) Do it, rather than think about it. Too much pondering and not enough action is the enemy of progress. Try different things and see how well you learn from those.
4) Invite a friend’s opinion. Ask them what they see as your core values. Someone who knows you well can spot patterns of behaviour that you might not. Talking with someone you trust can help define your potential.
5) Map out your job choices. Your “ideal” work may feel unobtainable. Even if it is the least likely of five or six options, don’t write it off as impossible.
Melcher suggests charting out all your potential paths by scoring the following questions from one to ten for each one and seeing how they add up:
- How interesting would it be?
- How easy would it be to make it happen?
- How much knowledge do you have in this area?
6) Recognise that careers go in cycles, not straight lines. There will always be transitions and you need to deal with them and move forward.
Keeping a close watch on your own dreams, hopes, aims and abilities, and being proactive rather than reactive, will set you on the road to achieving a satisfying career that stands the test of time.