Not many people I know, proactively manage their careers. Whilst they regularly change jobs internally or externally, or as entrepreneurs set annual goals for turnover or client conversion, they do not actually manage their career. They just keep going on the trajectory they set a long time ago.
This is a strategy, however, it is a strategy that will get them more of the same of what they wanted when they were a certain point in their lives. What happens after years of doing the same yet in different companies or in their own enterprise, they find themselves burnt out, demotivated, lacking purpose or simply discontent and don’t realise why.
The reason is: we change. Our goals and interests in life change, and this does affect our work life. Things we valued and needed towards the beginning of our career have long since been satisfied and are no longer important. Now other things are important to us – yet, because we are not necessarily consciously aware of them – they are neglected and unsatisfied.
It is a good idea to take stock of your career and map out your career roadmap on a regular basis – annually works well, and you can do more often if that suits you.
Setting long-term goals is not enough
We have all heard about setting 3 year, 5 year and 10 year goals. Whilst this is great to have these goals in place, for most of us this does not tend to give the direction that we need as these goals maybe too high-level and far out into the future.
Your career roadmap
I had the same problem. Year on year, I just continued on trajectory that was no serving me and no longer exciting me, until I one day applied the project management & NLP principles that used day in day out in my work to my career. Similar to Stephen Covey’s principle: “Start with the end in mind”, I built a career roadmap for myself: I took myself far out into the future, and then went slowly backwards until the present day, charting my course over the years.
Here are the steps I took:
Step 1: Start with setting goals as far as you can into the future, let’s say 5 years (you can of course choose any time period you want).
- Where do you want to be in your career in 5 years’ time?
- What is important to you at that point?
Step 2: Now work backwards through each year until you get to year 1. As yourself the questions below for each year and note down your answers.
- What needs to happen in year 4 (3,2, 1) to meet your career goal in year 5 (4, 3, 2)? (This might include getting on certain projects, acquiring new skills, hiring staff…..)
- What needs to be in place? (This could include having qualified in a new competence, having reached a certain position in the company, savings, ….)
- And, what do you need to have let go of? (This might include certain habits, fears, need for control, work that you do now, …)
Don’t worry about practicalities at this point. Just list everything that you can think of. There will be things required in year 4 you do not know in the present time, and that is OK, they will become clear along the way. What matters is to put down what you do know, and what you can work with today.
Step 3: Now look at year 0, which would be 2015 in this case.
- What needs to happen in year 0 (2015) to achieve what you need to have in place in year 1?
- What opportunities do you need to look out for?
- What do you need to put in place now, the next three months, this year?
- What do you need to let of now, the next three months, this year?
- What action can you take today towards your 2015 goals?
You might be surprised at what you discover about yourself, your career and how achievable your dreams are. I discovered, I had completed neglected my self-development during my consultancy career. I had trained and coached others – clients and colleagues, but had not really done much in way of self-improvement for myself. I also discovered, my values were out-of-sync with my employment – I now needed a lot more variety and flexibility in my life which full-time employment could not give me. So, I decided to set up my own company.
Regularly review your career roadmap
Because things change, and as you develop and grow, things that used to be important, now do not matter anymore. Review your career roadmap on a regular basis, ensures that you are clear where you want to take your work life every step of the way.
Increasing your opportunities
Your career roadmap will help you spot those opportunities that will bring you closer to your 5-year career goal. You may notice over time that more opportunities will come your way, you are making more effective career decisions, and you feel more in control of your career.
Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions, why not create a career roadmap instead?
To discover how we can help, click on career coaching.
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 Neuro-linguistic Programming