A new year has arrived and it’s all things about planning and finding a “new you.” It’s fun to sit down and plan what vacations you will take and some personal goals for yourself; but how often do you think about your career plans? Only when you want a change? During your annual performance review? Many people don’t think that they have control over their career; their employer does. It’s not true. Your career is a large part of your life and you can influence what turns it will take. Don’t wait for someone else to set all your expectations! Block off time at work or at home that is distraction-free. Really look at how you want to grow your career this year. Be kind to yourself and do what you think is best for you, no one else and no judgments.
Review your present. Take stock on how you are feeling right now in your career and journal about it. Do you like your current job? Why? Does your job bring you joy? Do you have goals for your overall career? Is your job a part of your goal? Does it mesh with your values and lifestyle? Do you like your company and industry? Do you like the hours? The commute? Your co-workers? What makes you thrive in your current job? What could you do without? Jot down anything else that comes to mind about your current situation.
Visualize the year ahead. Now that you have reviewed your current feelings in your career, write down where you believe this year will bring you. Take some deep breathes and visualize what an ideal career and job will look like. Where are you? What are you wearing? Who is around you? How are you feeling? Now brainstorm on one large overarching goal for this year. For example; “by the end of 2018 I will be promoted to a Senior Project Manager”. Or perhaps; “by June of 2018 I will have cut back my hours to 30 hours per week and have more flexibility”. Either of these things can happen in your current job or in a completely different situation. You don’t have to figure out those details just yet.
Create action items. Once you have your goal for the end of the year set, brainstorm all the things large and small that it will take for you to reach it. Again, don’t hold back or judge, just write. Remember to include the smallest detail like making a phone call or performing research. For example, if your goal is to become a Senior Project Manager some detailed action items could be: find a Senior Project Manager, contact this person, ask said person what you might need to take the step, etc. Include steps from other areas of your life to support this goal; finances, relationships, stress, and health. Dissect every detail so no action item needs to be further broken down.
Communicate your goal. Tell your loved ones of your goal. No goal is truly a goal unless you are willing to share it. Talk to them about what action items might impact them or where you may ask for support. If you are confident in your goal, be careful not to let any negative criticism bring you down. Talk to your boss and tell them where you would like to go, what do they think you can do to reach it your goal? How can they be the company support you in your goal? If your goal is to leave your current situation, it is important to communicate with tact anything that is causing frustration that can be improved upon during transition. Hard conversations can be the most productive.
Make your plan accountable. Organize your action items into a strategy plan. Create a schedule starting from when you want to reach the goal and working backwards on when each action item needs to be completed. Hold yourself accountable by building this into your calendar with each deadline. There are lots of apps out there for personal to-do lists for free. Post your goal and action items in your office or at home where you can see them. Be sure to celebrate each success and evaluate each challenge as the deadlines approach.
Practice flexibility and adaptability. Planning each step is important as it is aiming towards our goal’s bullseye. If your life is anything like mine, sometimes your plans don’t always play out how you expect. Manage your curveballs and re-evaluate action items when necessary, but never give up on your goal. If your goal just isn’t feeling right and doesn’t sit well with you at all, start the whole process over. At least you will have tried all your effort to learn it’s not what is truly best for you.
Practice Self Care. As with any change or goal in life, it can be challenging. Be sure to take care of yourself and don’t make any sacrifices. Your action items can get off track if you aren’t properly fueling your mind, body and soul. Be sure to meditate and use your inner compass to find clarity when decisions come up.
Taking this time to sit down and look at your job and career is a great exercise that some people forget to do, unless they are running their own business. Check in with yourself every few months and see where things are at. You don’t have to evaluate your next step when you are in crisis mode or only on your company’s schedule. You are truly the only one who can be responsible for your life.
Ready for change but not sure what it is? Check out my mini-course Finding Clarity in Your Career Path.