Imagine yourself with your bags all packed, but having no idea where you were going? That would never happen in real life would it? I mean how would you know what to pack? If you were headed to the north, you’d need some thermal socks and long underwear. Head on south, and you might want to include your bathing suit and sun tan lotion.
Everyday millions of workers are just like this however. Inside those suitcases, they’ve packed away their confidence, skills, attitudes, beliefs, hopes and dreams, work values and personality. All those things are really awesome but, yet somehow many of those same people have done little to actually plan where they are going in their careers. When they do move from job to job, it is with little planning, and what they’ll need is not necessarily what they’ve brought along.
Ever seen somebody ace the interview and get offered the job but after a few weeks or months, they’ve already moved on to something else because it wasn’t what they thought it would be? Me too. Then again there are people who move from job to job looking for their passion. I guess they forgot to pack that when they began that trip. Maybe you’ve even seen or know those people who somewhere along the way can’t find their hopes and dreams anymore? Yep; seen them too.
Most people put far more planning into a two week get-away than they do into their life-long career. So why is that so? It’s a headscratcher for sure. Planning for a trip they’ll consult the internet, check weather patterns, talk with people who have been their before, maybe learn language basics, and plan things that are must-sees. With their career however, they don’t research companies on the internet, ignore the company climate, ignore talking to people who work their now, don’t learn company lingo, and forget to learn some of the highlights of the company’s values and missions statements.
Once in a position, they often find that the job is unfulfilled, rewards are few and far between, and the skills they brought to the job are not all that much in demand. Skills they want to use are ignored or seldom used.
Planning takes time and effort. The payoff for doing good planning can be that the job you land next is something that gets you excited and pumped up to do on a regular basis. What’s important to you? If you’re looking for a certain type of boss to work for, do your homework. Check out the atmosphere and the culture of the organization. What do they value? If you love to be creative, but you’re moving into a Call Centre, you’ll hate it reading a script all day! If you like routine and doing the same thing all the time, you’ll fit in nicely at an automotive assembly plant.
Where are YOU going? What’s your plan for the next couple of years? If you are happy now but planning a move within the organization, what skills, certificates, training etc. will you need to compete for that job that maybe you could be brushing up on now? Maybe you need to start networking with decision-makers, movers and shakers, influential folks. It won’t do to suddenly call up someone in two years time and ask for inside information unless you’ve fostered a relationship that’s also about giving not just taking.
If you bring your lunch everyday, but all the people you need to meet eat out regularly, it might be worth the price of a lunch to eat with them once a week or more if ultimately you need to get, ‘in’ with this crowd. Most jobs are found through networking. Sure you can use the internet to find jobs and do your research, but sooner or later you’ll need to talk with people face-to-face. So if your interpersonal skills are weak, work on them now. Get out and join Toastmasters to speak easier and more comfortably. Join some discussion groups on Linkedin and actually participate in conversations that matter. Join the walking crowd in your office and get out of your cubical at noon hour.
Do some long range planning that takes you where you want to go. Not sure? Sit down with your company’s HR professionals. Some employers have succession plans in place that help their employees grow as the company grows. Find out. No one available where you work? Okay so hook up with a Career Advisor and pay them for their services. This could be some of the best money you ever spend if it leads to your long-term happiness. You’ll probably spend less on a Career Advisor or Counsellor than you do buying Christmas gifts for a single year; and can you even remember what you bought with that money last year?
You are worth the investment in time and money that it will take to plan out a slice of your future. You don’t have to do a 10 year plan, or a 4 year plan for that matter. What you do deserve is some thought and investment in perhaps your near future. Get excited about the possibility of knowing where you are going and having a big say in where you end up instead of just letting Life dictate where you go.
All the very best.