Every career is a work in progress. Just like any of your projects, it is not best to leave it until the end to spot learnings, mistakes or what could have been. Finding the time to reflect and explore can be hard when we are working and living at a full pace. During this period of stay at home and isolation, why not use time and space for what I term a ‘career check-in’ using these five questions to support a period of exploration, planning and adjustment.
What is my vision of career success? – Visualising is a self-leadership tool that will help you work on your belief system and clarify what you consciously and unconsciously desire. Try taking 25 minutes out to visualise your career in the short and long term. Simply close your eyes, take some deep breaths and then ask ‘What will success look like when I retire? What will success look like in 5 years’ time? What will success look like at the end of this year? For each question pause and consider what you see, smell and feel. What are you doing? Where are you? Who and what is around you? What will people be saying about you? Let the words, images and sounds all flow into your mind. Capture everything that comes to mind without judging it or worrying about it making sense immediately. Then review and reflect. Repeat the visualisation over a few days and see what more appears, and how with more detail confidence and motivation builds.
How are you really doing? Self-awareness helps build confidence and shine a light on areas of development that you may or may not be aware of. When it comes to career planning it is a foundational element. One of the psychological models I love to use for self-awareness is ‘Johari’s window’ . It requires a consideration of what you truly know about yourself and where you are blind. Fill in the boxes and ask your colleagues to help build an up to date picture of your strengths and weaknesses.
Where are the gaps? With an up to date career vision, and with greater awareness of strengths and weaknesses, gaps will start to emerge. These gaps will shine a light on where you are today versus where you truly want to get to and how you need to personally grow in order to get there. Grouping insight together will help create streams of focus.
What are your career goals? Goal setting has been identified as a clear way of ensuring you are motivated and aligned with what you want and will increase the likelihood of change. Writing your goals down will turn them from dreams and intentions, plus add personal accountability. Using the information you have on your gaps you have a great starting point for setting short and long term goals. Focus on the desired outcome and not how you will get there. Set a realistic deadline for each goal and be clear on how you will know when you have successfully reached the goal.
Don’t just explore and learn. Make sure you create action. Development and change may feel huge and the inner critical gremlin may be having a field day playing with your fears and belief system. Chunking things down will make transformations easier to navigate and feel more manageable. Start with the end in mind and work backwards to identify what steps will need to be taken in order to achieve the goal. Create a plan with clear deadlines to hold yourself accountable and make sure you check in regularly to feel motivated, ensure you remain on track and to celebrate progress.