Feeling stuck? Your One Page Career Plan
Feeling Stuck? Your One Page Career Plan
It’s that time of year. We wake up in the dark. We get home in the dark. The temperature drops. We’ve overdone things at Christmas. We start the New Year with great intentions. “This will be the year of change”. Our motivation is high. Our will power is working overdrive. Dry January. Shifting a few pounds. Being happier and more motivated in work.
And, typically, within a couple of weeks, the heaviness kicks back in. We fall back into our usual routine. “Tomorrow. I’ll start the diet, the gym, leaving work early, spending more time with my family, doing things for me. I’ll start looking for a different job.”
But here’s the kicker. Will power alone will not get you there. I’ve seen it over and over and over again. Intentions are a great motivator. But they are not a great driver. They are more like a back seat passenger. And you know how frustrating they can be!
Once we start to lose our motivation, we start to feel stuck in that Monday to Friday rut. Perhaps I shall just work a little bit harder. I’ll stay a little late tonight. It’s not that bad we say to ourselves. And before we know it, we are right back where we were. Living the same life and wondering why our lives aren’t changing and why we feel flat and disengaged.
There is always a different way. There is always a route to feeling stronger, more in control, happier and more motivated and confident in the workplace.
I’d like to encourage you to create a career plan. A clear plan of action that is yours to own and to make happen. A plan that you feel inspired to follow through on. A plan that gets you out of feeling stuck and into a place of motivation and energy. A plan that gives you clarity about what next for you. And this plan is a little different. It’s not your usual, here are my career goals set in a SMART way.
The Three Factors for Career Planning
So here’s the thing. Managing your career is exactly the same as managing any other project in your life. Firstly, your current situation has to be de-energising. You need to feel as though you can’t continue. Without that burning platform, you will continue to plod. Next you have to have an idea of where you want to go. That’s often a tough one for people to work out.
- Figure out what you want.
Years ago I trained as a career counsellor. It set the course for a completely different life for me. And, I managed to help so many leaders transform their careers too. One of the activities I used to do with clients was to draw a picture of the future they wanted to create. Drawing bypasses the conscious mind and helps us to tap into that fountain of knowledge within. It’s incredible what bubbles up. Many of these clients would get back in touch to thank me (often years later) and describe how they are living those dream lives. The best bit? It’s fun.
When you are figuring out what you want, here’s a few questions you can ask:
What does success mean to me in my career?
What do I see myself doing? What difference do I want to have made?
What environment do I want to work in? Think about both the people and the space
What type of organisations are aligned with my values?
When I look back in my career, what do I want to have achieved?
I coached an amazing client once. (Well to be honest, most of my clients are pretty special!). She was stuck in a role that was incredibly de-motivating to her. She had a senior role in marketing within a retail company. We worked through her values, her strengths and the things she was really proud of making happen in her past. She loved food with a passion and she wanted to help people. With patience and an open heart, she set about finding a completely different job. She is now working on the board of a charity that is centred on sharing food banks to those in need.
2. Find the Gaps
Next up is to identify what you are missing. When you think about the type of job or career you’d like to have, what’s missing? Where do you feel vulnerable? What skills, knowledge or experience are you lacking?
If you don’t know then an easy idea is to search the job sites for our ultimate dream job. Have a look at their list of requirements and tick the ones you can do / cross the ones you can’t.
Next you can ask. Reach out to colleagues, friends and family. Ask them. If I was to do x, what do you think I still need to learn? Or, what would help me be a stronger / better manager? Keep building the feedback loop. Also think about people you know who might be doing the work you want to do more of. Reach out to them. What are the core skills or knowledge that are must haves in this role / field?
3. Your Value
Perhaps one of the hardest but most crucial steps in creating your career plan is in getting clear on the value you bring. And how do you define value? Here’s a great question for you to ponder on:
How do you make a difference, have impact, and justify your salary?
And where are you already ‘best in class’?
At the very least you should get clear on the things you do naturally, the things that come so easily to you – you would do them without being paid. Perhaps you have great technical skills. Or you are an amazing project manager. Perhaps you love leading people. Or you are passionate about improving the lives of others. There are hundreds of ways you can identify and demonstrate your value.
Without question, it’s so much quicker and easier to create a career plan if you have a support team. You must have a mentor on side. Someone who has been there, done it. Someone who can provide the short cuts to your thinking. I’d also encourage you to find an accountability partner. Someone who will not let you off the hook and encourage you to keep on track.
The plan. Pull everything together into a one-page document. Have your vision at the top. Lay out the values, the skills, the knowledge you can bring to the role. (This really helps with updating your CV too). And then add the people you want to connect with and the projects or experiences you are going to need to make it all happen.
There you have it. Your how to guide to getting out of a life of stuckness and into a career that is energising, focused and brings you happiness. After all, isn’t that what we all want in life?
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