In the past, the two most common professional goals were usually wealth creation and role advancement. Today, that’s not the case. Career success in 2021 is about creating alignment between your goals, intentions, activities, and environment.
But how? If there’s one thing COVID-19 and the resulting global upheaval has taught us, it’s that many things in life are uncontrollable — and the only constant is change. While your career goals may be steadfast, your happiness and prosperity cannot depend on one job, one role, or one company. Things can change at a moment’s notice. To find your way in the new world of work, you have to be fluid in the way you think. You have adapt both professionally and personally to “go with the flow” towards our personal and professional goals.
Maybe you know where you want your career to go, but you are not sure how to go from idea to action (especially in today’s rapidly changing world of work). A list of tips won’t fix that, but a system will. Systems tell you what to do now, what to do next, and what to do after that. Through interviews with progressive leaders on my podcast, coupled with my own career journey and business experience, I’ve developed a five-part system to design and realize your dream career. Or your career mashup, as I call it.
The five components of this Fluid Career System will help you navigate a flexible and fluid approach to work, understand your future of work, and learn to build powerful momentum in a fluid world. To do that, you’ll have to take control of your career path by building the business of you. Here’s a quick summary of the five components that will make that happen.
The Fluid Career System: The Five Components
1. Spotting Trends Internally and Externally
Charting your fluid course begins with knowing the lay of the land ahead of time. What trends do you need to be aware of? You need to research not simply what they could be but how to identify them and how it could impact what you do now and in the future. Sleuthing information about your industry, competitors, job function, and potential disruptions becomes more important with each passing year. You need to know how to collect the right data and know what to do with it.
2. Creating Your Compass
Where is everything going? What does your picture of success look like? To answer those questions, you need a compass. This is your strategic plan that you create to guide you from idea to action. Now you need to figure out where you want to be based on what you learned in the first component and decide how to fill the gap between there and here. The compass is the best metaphor because your journey will be directional rather than linear. Even as you shift and switch and pivot, you should be heading in the general direction of your North Star.
3. Preparing for Change
Next, you have to accept that change is coming. Fear of the unknown and fear of failure are often what keep people from actually chasing their dreams. Preparing for change is mental and emotional, not just operational. This component is all about managing your fear, converting that energy into excitement, and developing your self-confidence so you know without a doubt that you know what you’re doing. Even though you’re doing what has never been done before—and even if people close to you believe that what you’re doing cannot be done. You’ll have to release external pressure and overcome internal obstacles like self-doubt.
4. Networking Your Way to Your Path
Building your network—your village—is critical to getting where you want to go. Not only will your new village make the introductions you need, they will point you to any skills or knowledge gaps you need to fill in order to stay fluid and open up even more opportunities in the future. Networking can help you create leads into areas that you want to pursue which may not even be in the field you are in now, but you want to pivot into that. This component is about aligning what you identified as your goals and objectives in the compass component and then finding those people who can actively help you to get there.
5. Building Soft and Hard Skills
The fifth and final component of your fluid career system is the acquisition of long-term skills. This involves researching where to pick up the necessary skills, creating environments to practice them (at a job, in a side gig, etc.), and measuring your progress. You need to establish and add a portfolio of skills to your resume, resulting in a comprehensive package where multiple jobs intersect. As you build your skills, you’ll grow more comfortable with your new role or job and finally advance your career in the way you want it.
The purpose of the five mashup components is to help you:
- Push past the fear that holds you back and build your own confidence to move forward
- Break the inertia from ideating, planning, and executing to reach your full growth potential.
- Align your interests, strengths. and skills to a plan for where you want to be.
- Spot the common threads between skills and experiences and how to leverage it.
- Expand your sustainable skillset.
- Recognize your growing success instead of getting frustrated when some areas seem weak.
- Connect more deeply with your current and future networks so you find a wealth of new opportunities.
- Identify the full value you bring to every new network.
- Create the product or service of you, leveraging yourself as your own best asset.
The old, linear career path was easy to track, as you just added up your status and salary and watched the line slope upward over the years. Now, with multiple different roles to track, you may have five different lines that wobble like sine waves. One job may tank, while another offers great success! Success is about having a process and making progress.
How you build that process and how you get from strategy to execution is what comes next.
Are you ready to create your ideal career? Learn more about the fluid career system in Building the Business of You: A System to Align Passion and Potential Through Your Own Career Mashup.
This post is adapted from Building the Business of You: A System to Align Passion and Potential Through Your Own Career Mashup by Connie Steele. Join the waitlist here to be the first to get your copy when it releases in early 2021.