One of Janet Jackson’s biggest hits is the song “What have you done for me lately?”. If you don’t know the song, then you should take a listen. She asks her significant other what have he done to court her and keep her interested and invested in the relationship. For anything to flourish, we have to give it our time and attention, which is also true for our careers. So picture this…your career says to you, “What have you done for me lately?” How do you respond?
Thinking about what you haven’t done lately to move forward in your career can be stressful if you don’t know how to get started. Let’s take a minute to ponder how using this perspective can serve you well in reaching your career goals.
Thinking back over the last 12 months, which includes navigating a pandemic, what have you been able to accomplish?
· Have you developed new skills?
· Have you added new people to your network?
· Have you engaged a mentor or career coach?
If you feel the challenge of accomplishing goals during this time, then plant seeds. Planting a seed is an action that takes planning, patience, and perseverance. This may be your time to plant seeds and make investments that will pay dividends in whatever area you are focused on.
Schedule time with yourself. Think about if the actions you are taking will put you closer to your goal by this time next year. If a year is too far out because things get blurry after three to six months, use a different timeframe. I remember talking to an executive years ago who said she takes inventory of her life every ten years. I liked her idea, but because things are moving rapidly, we may have to take inventory every month! It’s about being observant and taking the temperature of things to ensure you understand how changes in the world impact your plans. This is where having an agile mindset can help in designing an iterative approach to achieving your goals.
Planning for What’s Next
So how do I plan for what’s next? First I research my interest, create goals, then determine whether I am being busy or productive. Being “busy” and being “productive” are two different things. Being busy can prolong goal achievement, while being productive will keep you on the set path. How can you tell the difference? Being busy is a vicious cycle that is not purposeful and will not get you closer to your goals. Being productive is intentional actions for a desired outcome. This results in accomplishing milestones leading to the destination. Evaluate whether the activities you are involved with support your goal. If not, how can you adjust to focus more on your plan? There are steps you can take to be productive towards your career goals and purposeful in your activities.
Take time to reflect on these five questions and talk with a mentor or friend to generate ideas for getting started.
- What is the big picture? What do you ultimately see yourself doing? (Capture this in writing or a vision board).
2. Based on this big picture, what skills, education, or certifications are you missing?
3. What practical experience will you need, and how do you plan to get it?
4. Who do you know that is already in the role? If you don’t know anyone, how can you locate them through colleagues or professional organizations to build your network?
5. Do you have a mentor who can help you develop your plan? If not, who can be your mentor? (You can have more than one).
Being productive in your career takes planning, access to the right resources, a desire to continually learn, and mentors to guide you along the way. Whatever you decide to do for your career should be intentional, starting with small steps. Ultimately, you own your career, and it’s up to you to have a positive outlook to bring about positive outcomes.
Career planning is not one size fits all. There are many different approaches and you should pick one that resonates with you.
TEDx Career Talks
Here is a mini-fest of TEDx career talks. Hopefully one of these speakers will impart an idea to help you become productive towards building your career plan.
Don’t Find a Job, Find a Mission — This speaker says, she would never tell you to look for your dream job, it doesn’t exist.
Say Good-bye to Career Planning — Ever heard of the lean business canvas model? This speaker talks about career modeling based on this concept.
The Key Ingredient to Your Career Success — Using relationships in pursuit of your career goals is not a new idea, but this speaker says one collaboration with the right person can catapult you to greatness.
Three Questions to Unlock Your Authentic Career — This talk helps you to think about what you do well that may be the keys to your next career.
How to Choose the Best Career for You — This speaker takes you on a hilarious journey for how he found his career using the process of elimination.