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how to manage your career before it mis-Manages you!

Some people work to live.  I get that.  It’s fine.  If you have a job that doesn’t encroach on your leisure time, that doesn’t stress you out and that pays you what you want, then I think that’s great.

However, there are huge swathes of us that are either stressed-out and over-worked wage slaves or desperately seeking something more purposeful from our careers.  I’m not saying that we live to work (although I meet plenty of people who seem to), but rather that we want to make our work-life better; more impactful, more meaningful.

So, what do we do?

We wait.

Wait and see what’s round the corner.  Wait to be offered that promotion we so richly deserve.  Wait to be headhunted by that organisation with the perfect culture that fits our values.  Wait to wake up one morning with THE ANSWER to the question “what’s my ideal job?”.

And we fumble about.

Fumble about trying different jobs, organisations and careers on for size.  Trying to see what works. 

“Well, I didn’t like that big organisation so I’ll try a smaller one.”

“Well, no, that didn’t work so I’ll try a different industry.” 

“Hm, that hasn’t worked either.  Sh1t!  What if I chose the wrong career?  I’m doomed!  I’ll never get out.”

There is no other area of our life where we would be so hapless.  We wouldn’t treat our health and wellbeing in this way.  If we felt ill, we would proactively seek out advice, get better nutrition, take some exercise.

So why do we spend years of our careers waiting and fumbling?

Because we feel like we have no agency.  We expect other people to be the experts.  The career advisor at school, our parents, our universities, the first company we join, the headhunter, the CV writer, the business school, our friends, our families.  Anyone but ourselves.

And … that’s weird.  And wrong.

How to do career management

I am on a mission to get individuals, and the companies they work for, engaged in proactive career management.  We only get one shot on this planet (well, that’s what I believe) and we may as well maximise the fulfilment we get from the area of our life where we invest the most time.

And the good news is that it’s never too soon nor too late to start.  You can do this at any stage in your career – starting out, mid-career, winding down.  Just make sure that you do it!

In order to proactively manage your career you need to:

  1. Identify what you’re good at – mastery is important to humans and contributes to our feelings of motivation and fulfilment.  What are the strengths that others value in you?

  2. Identify want you love to do – probably a bit more difficult.  Often we build our careers on things we’re good at without searching for our “loves”.  The things that light us up.

  3. Identify your values – you need to know what your values are so that you can make sure you’re in an environment that enables you to live them out fully.

  4. Create a Career Purpose – having a deep think about what impact you want to have and what contribution you want to make, can help guide you in your career decisions.

  5. Have an open mind – don’t rule anything out.  Just that really.

  6. Have a plan – have an eye on your path and know where you’re heading in the short, medium and long-term.

  7. Get support to overcome barriers – we all get stuck and need support.  Investing in a personal coach, career coach or mentor is a great way to make sure you’re in the right place and moving forward. 

  8. Revisit periodically – we change.  Our strengths and values can change overtime so it’s important to check in with yourself (or your coach) at least annually to make sure you’re still heading where you want to.

I know that by following the above steps, everyone can get more intentional and have a positive impact on their career happiness and fulfilment.

Let’s get serious about career management.  And if you want to book a slot in my diary to talk about this …  get on a Discovery Call with me.