Your career is the biggest road trip you will ever take, and on this trip, the journey is the destination. You know where you’ve been. Do you know where you are going?
Recently, I had a chance meeting with an old colleague of mine about her career and the planning she’s done to get herself where she is today. I like to think of career planning like I plan my summer motorcycle trips with a GPS and a map. I’d never consider taking one of my rides out West without planning my route and making sure I had everything necessary to ensure a stress-free and prepared trip. In fact, I believe most would never drive somewhere unknown without first checking where they’re going.
Yet people go without a map all the time when considering the journey they take in their careers. They find frustration along the way because they have not thought through all the twists and turns their journey can take. They have not planned for the unforeseen, and when something goes wrong, they are mystified and shocked that something derailed their career.
Maybe motorcycle riding is not your cup of tea, but have you ever considered taking a vacation without thinking about where you were going to go, how you are going to get there, and what you were going to do once you arrived? Why is it, then, that people spend so much time planning and researching their vacation, yet they don’t plan their career? After all, if we’re going to spend approximately 1/3 of our lives at work, we ought to think about where we are headed and why we’re doing it.
Making a Career Plan
When you consider making your own Career Plan there are many things you ought to consider, and they are not dissimilar from planning a motorbike trip or a vacation. The idea is to do the work and be mindful and deliberate about the steps you take.
- Knowing where you’ve been gives you clues one where you do and don’t want to go. Taking inventory of where you’ve been, an appreciative inquiry of sorts is critical in reviewing the impact you’ve had.
- What did you love, what did you hate about the work, people, cause, or culture you are/were a part of? Consider the type of work, the environment, the people (co-workers, bosses, customers) and think about how they have impacted you, and think about what kind of culture you want to be a part of.
- How will your passion be tied into your work? Think through what’s important to you & your family and what impact you want to have in your life? SPOILER ALERT, this changes over time, the key is to constantly ask yourself that questions.
These questions, alone, won’t create a plan, but they will certainly help you get a better feel for what excites you about Mondays, and away from the type of work that kept you wishing weekends were longer.
What you have to realize is that your journey is already underway and as Dr. Seuss says: “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own and you know what you know, and you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”