It’s the time of year for caps and gowns, parties and yearbooks. All over the country, in ceremonies large and small, students, teachers, families and the community at large are recognizing assorted rites of passage.
Don’t you kind of miss that?
Not high school, of course. I mean being able to know when something is done, when one phase of your life is completed and it’s time to move on to something else.
I’m not talking about relationships, by the way. I’m talking about life at work.
Although there may be an ebb and flow to work rhythms, many jobs lack clear beginnings and endings. Aside from an annual work plan, which you and your boss may barely look at, it seems like they just expect you to keep plugging away until… Forever? Retirement?
Maybe I have a short attention span, but I just can’t handle that. I prefer a workplace with time horizons I can wrap my head around.
Fortunately, even if the powers that be don’t provide you with graduation days at work, you can make them up for yourself.
Think of this as goal setting with a little “Pomp and Circumstance” playing in the background. As silly as it sounds, it might prompt a more serious engagement with your career.
Start by considering where you are now, and where you would like to be in three or four years. What are the steps you need to take to accomplish that transition?
They could be incremental add-ons, like when you move from adding and subtracting to multiplying and dividing and then long division, which you probably did long before high school, but hopefully you catch my drift…
The steps you need to graduate at work might also involve broadening your over-all background, like taking a foreign language in school or becoming well-versed in a new aspect of your company’s operations.
Or advancement could be contingent on simple seniority, you know, like the difference between junior varsity and varsity teams.
The trick is that you basically need to be your own guidance counselor. Sit down with yourself and figure out what kinds of credits you need to get the degree – I mean position – you want.
Next, make yourself a schedule. This will take you beyond the one-year work plans favored and ignored by so many businesses and get you thinking and acting more strategically about your career.
Although luck and personal connections will play a part in any success, it’s best not to make them part of your career plans. This schedule should plot out your future job moves, and lead you straight through to your career graduation, like the kind of thing a principle would approve.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But making your own prom is another matter.
by Danielle Dresden