Career Dreams: Where do you wish you were on your career path today?
Maybe this is a better question: where do you want your career to be in one year? Since a career is a long timeframe, think about it in a size-able chunk: 365 days at a time. And it matters what you do with each one of those days.
Sure, there are circumstances out of your control—maybe the position you really want in your company is filled, or you are balancing family demands that currently make your career goals take a backseat. But if the position did open up and when your family life allows you to put some more energy into your career, would you be ready?
You’ve heard the saying, ‘Chance favors the prepared.’ Which begs the question: Are you prepared when the opportunity you need to happen, happens?
Every decision you make about how you spend your time and resources either moves you towards your goals or moves you away from them. There really isn’t a neutral decision. When you consider a career path, it’s a marathon that requires planning and consistent effort to achieve. And life generally doesn’t allow a nice clean path from A to B. Nope—you’re going to get all kinds of side paths and distractions thrown at you along the way.
So what can you do to stay on target and be in a great position to actually achieve your career goals?
- Know where you are going
- Plan the route
- Work the plan
Know where you are going
Begin with the end in mind. Find a person who has the career you want and cyberstalk them. I mean that in the least creepy way possible. It’s not hard to know how to get to where you want to be. Find people whose careers you admire on LinkedIn and note the steps they took and see what similar steps might benefit your goals. Better yet, find someone you can take out for coffee and pick their brain.
Plan the route
If you know you’re going to need a degree or another degree or a certain kind of experience, back track that to what you need to do today to make it happen. Want to be ready for a promotion? Or to start your own business in 3 years? What do you need to know or set up? Go to school? Get out of debt? Make connections? Figure it out with the help of wise advice and get it written down in a master plan. And then plan to move towards it one, probably mundane but crucial, day at a time.
Work the plan
And here it is: the secret, the tip, the key. This is where the rubber meets the road. And it’s not complicated or out of your reach, it’s just a matter of self-discipline. This is the only part of your career path that you can fully control: what you do every single day to move yourself down the path you say you want. Or the choices you make that do not move you down the path. It is literally the small, daily decisions that will make or break you. This is where you prepare, this is where opportunity meets you and people will say you got lucky.
But you have to pay attention to what you are doing. Knowing that each day matters, what is the best way to stay on track? To know what you are doing? To be intentional with your time and resources?
Write (or type) it down. You will know what to do today because you have paid attention to what you need to do and you wrote it down, with a long-term vision. Know what books you need to be reading, what people to meet for coffee, what courses to take because you have it laid out in front of you.
To use your days wisely as you climb that career ladder, you must know where you are at, know where you are going, and know how to get there. Then, your daily tasks are to do some of the work that will get you there.
Here are 3 tips to use a planner to help you stay on track:
- Make S.M.A.R.T goals. They must be realistic and achievable.
- Use your planner daily. Preview your week, month and each day ahead of time so you know where your energy and focus will be. This allows you to respond to those distractions and things of life in a way that don’t get you off track. It gives you a way to adjust towards some balance with your responsibilities.
- Review and reflect on your progress at the end of each day, week and month. It is imperative that you know how things are going and make adjustments accordingly. If you aren’t meeting your goals, you can adjust as soon as you notice a consistent problem.
Achieving your career dreams is an ultra-marathon. You must pace yourself, but also keep making progress. It absolutely can be done—but only by the person who is paying attention to their life and how they spend their time, energy and resources on a daily basis. That’s the secret—knowing what you are actually doing and how that lines up with what you want to do.
Pay attention and do the work. When opportunity knocks, you’ll be ready.
Did you know that the LegacyVault Journey section is an easy and secure way to plan your days, months and years? And that you can access your Planner from a desktop, tablet or mobile device? It also provides encrypted data storage so you have a very safe place to store all those fabulous ideas and thoughts. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use way to be intentional with your days, you’ve found it.