Sometimes to get where you are going, you must travel through the “in-between times”. Career planning and career management are about taking the next small step forward. Sometimes you don’t change jobs right away, sometimes the job leads don’t pan out, and sometimes the perfect job doesn’t actually fit with your work style.
However, every position and every opportunity is preparing you for your next small step. It doesn’t feel like it makes much sense looking forward, but when we look back we see our path more clearly and a plan behind it all. Many times we want to see the road ahead paved with sure signs saying “greatness 5 miles ahead“. It’s hard to keep your stamina when you don’t see any road signs that guarantee success in finding the right job.
The career planning process is about creating those sign posts yourself. Doing so gives you the encouragement you need to keep going and progressing towards your goal. What do the next 5 years look like in your career? 5 months? 5 days? Ask yourself, “What can I do next to move myself closer to my dream job?” Here are 3 small actionable items to help you get started:
1) Appreciate your current position – at first glance, this may not seem like an action. However, if you ever disliked your job or aspects of it, this takes immense effort. Looking at your current position and appreciating certain parts of what it has to offer can be a great way to start thinking positively. Begin to see where this job is part of your overall plan.
2) Write down up to three areas that you would like to develop (areas of improvement), three areas that you believe you do well (current strengths), and three adventures that you dreamed of but never dared (dream big!).
3) Based on #1 and #2, create a 5-week plan and then follow it! It can look something like this:
Week 1 – tell a friend one thing you like about your current job
Week 2 – research one area that you always dreamed of
Week 3 – take a career-related assessment (MBTI, StrengthsFinder 2.0, Strong’s Inventory etc.)
Week 4 – go over your results with a friend or career coach
Week 5 – choose one area of strength and look for ways to use it now
Thinking positively, allowing yourself to dream a little, and following attainable goals are small steps towards planning your career. Even if you think you have covered up the animosity from your previous employer, the truth has a way of coming out. The reverse is also true. When you begin to use your strengths and talk about your dream job with friends, you begin communicating for that career to become more of a reality. It’s these small steps that can guide us to the “greatness” we seek.