Getting a career strategy
This article was written by freelancer Lauren McCrostie
Planning your own career path and noting down the goals you would like to achieve (e.g. a promotion, moving to a different industry, increasing your salary or diversifying your income) is beneficial and important if you want to see progress: “Failing to plan, is planning to fail” as the old guys say, right?!
CONSIDER WHERE YOU’RE AT
Ask yourself questions about your current working life. Where are you working right now? Do you enjoy it? Are you good at it? Do you like the industry or the company you’re in but interested in a different side of it? Sometimes we can caught up in the school-uni-internship-first time job conveyer belt style system our culture so often operates on. Leaving us in an albeit fairly comfortable and dependable, ‘bobbing along’ employment state; it’s comfort prompts no real urgency or determination for us to pursue our own personal career goals. Perhaps you’ve ended up in banking and don’t know how as you’ve always been interested in design. Maybe, you’re working for an agency doing consultancy, but would rather be on the production team. Or you’re in a junior role within an office and want to be in the senior leadership team. Or maybe you don’t know what you want to do at all! Which is fine, too! If you are confused then identify what you enjoy doing, where your interests lie and what skills you can offer organisations. Ask close friends, parents, previous employers and teachers what you can offer working environments, they can often offer more honest and constructive insight. Think about where you are currently within your career; what you’re doing, its enjoyment and how you’re performing against where you’d like to be; what you’d like to be doing more/less of, the benefits of that role and why you’re not there.
WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS
After considering your current career situation, make a list of the goals you’d like to achieve in your working life. Want to write a book? Build your own business? Create an app? Work for a certain brand? Become a podcaster? Work with children? Work with the elderly? Whatever sector you’re interested in, there is always something you can be aiming to do and however random the goals are – writing down these targets pushes you to be specific and clarify your ambitions. It is an incredibly easy and accessible yet utterly advantageous thing to do. You can also find how much you value these goals and if you really do want achieve them or if they were just a novelty in your head. Equally, by writing them down you can break them down further and see what you have to do to achieve them. The key here is to be specific – e.g. if you want to launch a business consider:
- What do you want it to be about?
- Why do you want to build it?
- Do you have a team to build it with?
- Do you have the correct expertise?
- What change do you want it to create?
- How can you fund it?
Pulling your goals from your dreams, putting them onto paper, detailing them further and then organising them in importance allows you to see your possible future career path much more clearly.
CONTACT + RESEARCH
Once you have found which industry you want to work in and what role you want to play as well as curated a list of goals (e.g. work for x company or get z salary increase or formulate a side interest) that you want to achieve and in what order – you can go forward in finding ways to meet these goals. If you want to switch industries but are untrained in your desired field then research courses and apprenticeships you can train with to better your chances of securing a job in your dream field. If you are wanting a promotion then look out for company competitors within your career and reach out to them and express interest or be open and express to your boss that you are eager to work more closely with them and assume more responsibilities. If you are happy within your role but want to dedicate time to sideline interests or personal projects then set a fixed time in your weekly schedule to do so (e.g. if you want to launch a podcast then can you dedicate two evenings a week or weekends to doing the logistics, research, recording, editing and promoting?). Or does this goal require more time? and if so, can you talk with your boss, then suggest working reduced hours or from home once a week? This is the biggest push of planning your desired career path as it actually requires action and external interaction, it means involving others. Most of us fall at this step, as we fear rejection and failure (remember what I said about ‘all too comfortable jobs’!) But we must remember, life is short and too short to be in a unfulfilling job. It is also too short to delay pursuing our goals. We are only limiting ourselves.
PLAN + CHECK IN
From doing all this reflection and preparing, you have the information needed to organise these goals into your 2021. Plot them into your annual calendar according to how big the goal is (how much time it will take to achieve) and how important it is to you. For example, if you want to retrain to work in a different industry, which is a gradual goal (i.e. not one which can be achieved immediately). As this would likely take more time but is of high importance, so start doing the ‘ground work’ and research as early as possible, so you can begin the transition in the later half of the year. Check in with yourself every several days to ensure you are doing something every week that moves you closer towards your career goals.
It is important to be flexible with planning though too…if the possibility to go after goal number five arrives before you start pursuing goal three – then seize the moment and change your course slightly. You will be surprised how quickly you will begin to see success after you start vocalising and actioning your goals. By reaching out to the correct contacts and investing adequate time to your careers’ trajectory, you will begin to move steadily towards each of your work goals.
Why not, use the remaining time this year, take control of your career by planning where you would like to be and how you can get there? Your future self will be sure glad you did.