It’s time to decide what your career will look like. Rather than going throughout the whole year, only to look back on “what was,” you can plan now to look ahead and imagine “what will be.”
Even if your career is on a nice trajectory and you’re generally happy with your progression (honestly, how many people can truly say this?), there is never a good time to sit back and relax when it comes to your career. And for anyone who wishes one or more areas of their career were different (salary, benefits, time office, job title, job!), there is no time like the present to start planning a career makeover.
Here are 3 ways to jumpstart your career:
1. Do a Career Assessment to Find Your Starting Point
Ask yourself pointed, thoughtful questions about your career and save your answers in a journal or computer document so you can refer back to it. Over the course of 30 minutes or 1 hour, consider the following questions:
- Is your current job what you pictured yourself doing 5 years ago?
- If not, is it something you still want to be doing 3 years from now?
- What are the parts of your life that get in the way of achieving your career goals? Education levels? Location? Initiative? Uncertainty?
- How can you remove those roadblocks?
2. Decide What Your Most Important Career Goals Should Be
Based on the answers you give to the previous questions, determine what your career priorities are. What must you absolutely do this year? Rank order your choices if you have a hard time deciding what is really important. Do you want a promotion? A raise? A certification? An award? A bonus? More vacation time? A more flexible schedule? A new job altogether? The list should include the goals you NEED to reach, as well as a few wishlist items.
3. Create Your Career Roadmap
Think about visiting a new place and driving around. The vast majority of us consult a map (or a map app) to figure out where we are and where we want to be. The same is true for your career goals. Creating a map for yourself will keep you on track, and stop you from forgetting your purpose and end-goals, meandering off the course.
Take each goal one-by-one and figure out the steps needed to achieve those goals. Consider how long it might take you, and choose a hard deadline for each goal. Mark the deadline on your calendar (in bold, red, capital letters) or keep a to-do list next to your desk to remind you everyday of what you’re working toward.
For example, if you want to ask your boss to allow you to work from home two days each week, your actionable steps should be to equip your home office, create a proposal which details the telecommuting arrangement, research the benefits of telecommuting for employers, ask for a meeting with your boss, pitch your boss on the idea, and then follow up on any concerns.
By assessing your career up to this point, deciding what you really want to accomplish this year, and making an actionable roadmap, you’ll make it much easier to stick to your career resolutions and turn this year into a year of career momentum.
by Brie Weiler Reynolds