Viewing your career as a journey makes it much easier to see how to put it – and you – on the map.
Here are six steps showing you exactly how to do that:
- As the late Stephen Covey famously said: “Start with the end in mind”. When you pan your life forwards, maybe as far as retirement. Where do you want the end point to be? If you see yourself, sat in your rocking chair, talking to your grandchildren – or even great grandchildren – what do you tell them you did for a living? What is that ultimate place you would like to reach in your career? This is your destination.Just as you would never leave home not knowing where you’re driving to…. don’t continue your career not knowing where you’re headed.
- Now you know the end point, do a Google search to find a job spec (or four) for ‘it’, to see what the role entails and what you will need. How many years of experience in what kind of role? Qualifications? Specialist skills?This is your ‘fuel’ which will get you ‘there’. You might be part-fuelled already. But the rest you can fill up on the way, now you know what you need.
- Consider the other things which will make your journey easier, or more comfortable. Who do you need to know? Which circles should you network in? Where do you need to be seen and who by? These are your motorways – the faster routes.
- Consider finding a mentor. Someone who’s done the route you’re embarking on. Think about scaling Everest. A Sherpa guide would be a key requirement. Your mentor is your career equivalent. They know the terrain and can help you scale and manoeuvre through the trickiest parts. Places which at first glance look impassable.
- Pack some belief. It is rare, if ever, we set off in our vehicles without believing we will end up at our destination. When we embark on a physical journey we have our map and/or guide and enough of the right kind of fuel and we head off. Certain of the end point.
Yet rarely on our career are we this sure. Fear of failure, or the pervasive voice that asks ‘am I enough’, ‘am I good enough’ stops us from believing our destination will ever be met. Conversely, it’s not our ability – or lack of - that stops us, as our inner voice would suggest. But rather our lack of belief; which stops us trying or being convincing on the occasions when we do.
- As Nike famously said: ‘Just Do It’. Keeping your destination as your blueprint and your fuel and motorway list to hand, pack your belief and find your Sherpa.
It doesn’t matter where you are today, or how far you have to go to reach your career goal. Now you know where you’re going you know what will take you towards, or away from, where you’re headed and you can navigate your career choices accordingly.
Career moves are no longer random and haphazard. The job with the biggest salary no longer seems the best option. You are on a journey and you know where you’re headed. You are equipping yourself for success as you travel. Your target clearly in sight.
Planning really is the key to the career kingdom and although these six steps sound amazingly simple, you’d be surprised how many people never take them. They wake up one day realising they’re in a job they don’t like and a million miles from doing anything that makes their heart sing and their soul come alive. Life may be short, but you work for a large portion of it. Make those days count and the rest of your life will improve immeasurably too.
I’ll leave you with my career version of a Lewis Carroll quote: ‘If you don’t know where you are your career is going, any road next job will get you there’