It’s amazing how many people cede their career decisions to the whims of others: high school students who select a college based on prestige vs. fit, college students who choose a major considering only the return on investment and mid career professionals who take residence in their comfort zone and lose connection with their network outside the organization.
There are many things in life where we have no control, but our career success is a result of the effort we apply to setting our goals and making them happen. Read any profile of an individual who has achieved their dream and you will learn of hard work, determination, failure, resilience and a bit of luck. These are folks who ‘own’ their career despite skeptics and critics, building a support system to enable their success.
This past week we suggested some ideas to jump start your decision process, reclaim ownership of your career.
First, write a letter to your younger self. What have you learned from your experience to this point? What is important to you? What were the ‘big’ things that seemed to matter at the time, that now, in retrospect, had no impact on your future.
Next, create a collage. Visualize your life in photos. Include all the things that describe you, and then broaden the picture to include the social influences and finally the reality of the workplace. Here is the narrative at the starting point. Who you are, who is influencing your decisions and how your goals will play out in the world.
Reflect on your experiences with a journal of life and work. Record your experience in real time and select intervals to go back and review: after a month, six months, a year. We are so consumed by the urgency of the present that we often miss patterns over time.
Clarify your ideas in conversation with others. Get feedback without abdicating ownership. Many have charted their career path before you and there is wisdom to gain from the stories of others.
Outline your plan and set it in motion.