Career strategy should be an ongoing process that reflects the dynamic nature of our personal lives, our work and the world. It should not be something akin to an exercise resulting in specific objectives and actions, rather it should bring into focus how we might best live and be ready to take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves.
At best you may want to develop general scenarios related to potential future work; however there is too much serendipity and variables outside of our control to think that we can establish a static plan.
A better approach is to focus on our interests and the tangible pursuits that align with our interests, along with related financial factors and our personal life; and to do this on a continuing basis. For near term planning (e.g. 1 to 2 or maybe 3 years) it would be more appropriate to develop tangible objectives and steps to the extent possible and feasible.
Rigorous evaluation of ourselves. This is the most important element of career planning and requires that we think about ourselves with true honesty and thoughtfulness. It is not a one-time effort; it should occur over several weeks. And it should be revisited several times a year.
- How do I want to live?
- What interests me? What stirs in me and is a passion? What do I like to do?
- What types of activities come easily to me; in which I lose track of time?
- What types of work are the easiest and enjoyable for me?
- What is the nature of my personality and soul?
- What’s the impact I seek to make?
Align self- knowledge to tangible pursuits and actions. Transforming our self-knowledge into tangible action is ongoing and is the expression of who we are.
- What work, and organizations, align with who I am; and how can I achieve or do more of it.
- How can I further develop my expertise, experience and appeal?
- Who are the CEO’s and managers in the fields that interest me or that I see as being very competent, and which can positively affect my career? How can I work for/with them or follow them in media?
- How should I network in the areas in which I am interested?
- How should I continue to educate myself in whatever interests me?
Align my pursuits to financial factors. As we know it’s one thing to do something that is an expression of who we are, and another thing to do something that results in the compensation we need for daily existence. For some this is easy, for others it is real challenge.
- Is there sufficient financial compensation to support me, and others that rely on my financial participation, now and into the near future?
- If current compensation is not satisfactory will it soon become sufficient for my near term financial objectives?
Consider the effect of my pursuits on my personal life and/or family factors and preferences, and vice-versa. Our family and personal life is intertwined with our work. How each impacts and affects the other should be considered.
- How do my pursuits affect my family/personal life – negatively and positively?
- How might my pursuits affect my family/personal life within the next 1-2 years?
Look beyond my current circumstances. Knowing who we are and developing pursuits that make sense for us requires that we expose ourselves to new ideas and experiences. Being open to possibilities is critical for our ongoing development and career(s).
- What is going on in other areas? What are the trends?
- How might these fit with my interests and strengths currently and in the future?
- How can I realign myself to learn more about this area(s)?
Near term. As circumstances warrant it may be necessary to have a structured plan that covers the next 1 – 3 years.
- Within the next 1-2 or 3 years where do I want to be, where could I be, with my work?
- What specific steps should I take to achieve it, or at least be in a position to take advantage of related opportunities when they occur?
Michael VanBruaene was a KPMG Director and blogs at Michael VanBruaene – Working With CEO’s And Executives To Improve Their Organizations. (www.AdvancingYourOrganization.com). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.