One of the challenges of working life is that it’s easy to get caught up in the demands of the day to day – in “doing a good job” – that you lose sight of where you are headed in the longer term. It is a truism of our careers and our lives that if you don’t know where you’re going you’ll end up somewhere else.
Leaders of organizations spend a great deal of time on a process called strategic planning –creating a vision for the organization’s future based on a realistic assessment of its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities and threats in the market context; then putting plans in place to realize that vision. This is what successful organizations do not just to survive, but thrive in today’s competitive context.
Applying this to You & Co. – the question becomes, “What is the future you want to create and what do you need to do to start preparing for that future?” As with organizations, your best career future will lie at the intersection of your strengths and opportunities, staying alert to your personal vulnerabilities and potential threats in the market context.
Taking charge of your career requires that you can answer “yes” to the following questions:
- Do you know who you are – what you’re good at, what you want, your interests, strengths and vulnerabilities? Self-awareness is the foundation of confidence and good choices in career and life. It comes from doing a thorough self-inventory using exercises and assessments designed for this purpose.
- Do you know the market context? Are you on top of developments in your field and the broader context that point the way to new opportunities or the need to switch course? We live in revolutionary times in a world beset by forces of technology and new market realities. Never has it been more important to be informed and vigilant as to potential impacts on our careers.
- Do you have a plan of action of action to turn your career goals into reality, for the near and longer term? As importantly, do you have the motivation, mental focus and support you need to deliver on those plans?
The shift to becoming more creative and intentional in the way you manage your career makes all the difference in the energy you bring to our work. It means shifting from letting your career “happen” to you, to taking active control, making decisions at each step that will lead to greater fulfillment and success, however you may define it.
It’s a life-long process that, to quote William Bridges in Creating You & Co. challenges you to “learn to think like the CEO of your own career.” We’ll delve more into this topic in subsequent posts.