As we approach the mid-year mark, and you are either well settled in your current role, new to the role or considering a change in the short or long term, it is important to take some time and assess where you are in your career journey. I believe that before you set out on any career-related move, you must have clarity of your short-term and long-term career goals. Create a checklist of your objectives and achievable timelines and know the resources available to you to guarantee accomplishments (internal and external). Most significantly – be willing to push yourself and embrace change and the challenges that come with it.
Change is paramount:
In carrying out an assessment and review of your career, one of the key outcomes of your assessment MUST be the need for CHANGE! If you do not identify an area in your plan that requires transformation or change, then you might need to re-evaluate your goals or you might be one of life’s lucky few.
‘Change’, to some, equals risk. However, change does not have to be drastic. It does not have to turn your work life off-kilter and give you palpitations. It could be something such as setting out to get some training that will equip you for a desired career move, getting a new skill (career related or otherwise), moving closer to home in the long term, or adjusting your obligation to accommodate a healthy work-life balance. The list of little and big changes is inexhaustive. So, in reviewing your career at this time of the year, look for that achievable change that will impact positively on your work-life balance.
Oftentimes, we forget that there is more to life than work. Take time to consider your mental and physical wellbeing. Take time to enjoy family and friends. Learn something new outside of work. I guess what I am saying is that changes do not always have to be geared towards getting the next promotion or the next role, important though that is. The bigger picture shows much more than that. There is a whole world out there that you need to fit in and find the space that gives you some joy and satisfaction.
Do not forget life outside work:
We often forget about small successes and accomplishments, especially in our personal life. It is easy to focus on the deal that fell through, the role that was lost, the account that was and is challenging to manage, the impossible and micromanaging boss (an aside, I think if you have one of these bosses, hey presto – this is a signal for a change). There are a host of work-related challenges and it is vital to know that work is rarely free of such challenges. Life challenges us all the time, how you come out at the end of it is what matters. Explore opportunities to fit work around your personal life – family, friends, sports, hobbies and other areas of interest to you. Give yourself the gift of a wholesome life. Sometime in the future you change jobs, you retire and colleagues move on, but all the others remain in your life. Review and assess where you are at with them and plan for your career with them in mind.
Review challenges and difficulties:
I am a keen believer in learning from experience, we see this at work all the time – what have we learnt from a difficult assignment, how do we ensure that we are better prepared to overcome past difficulties, what are the positive takeaways from the experience, what are the comparisons to other similar or relevant assignments. All these questions generate answers that prepare the organisation for the next project, they expose new knowledge and opportunities that may have remained untapped.
Likewise, in assessing your career, look for learning opportunities in challenging and difficult projects, they tend to help you discover areas that you may need to make some changes, acquire new knowledge and identify different ways to achieve your objectives.
Set yourself up for success:
Celebrating your successes, learning from experiences, identifying areas for change and transformation and working towards achieving a work-life balance are areas that can help you assess where you are at this time of the year and plan for the future. A word of caution – change is a constant, planning for the future is planning for success. However, plan to succeed, develop achievable goals and never underestimate the impact of out-of-work activities on your life and career.
In summary, there are so many pieces and articles that tell us how we can work to achieve our career goals. These are mostly focused on what you can do in the workplace to help you be a step above your peers, meet your target, climb up the career ladder at a steady pace and possibly find your niche in your chosen industry. As you review your goals, also make sure to review other aspects of your life as oftentimes, we tend to underestimate the input of family, friends, the environment and other activities on a successful and satisfying career.
Written by: Clementina Mustapha
Executive Search Specialist, InterSearch Ireland