Are you looking for a new professional career?
The New Year is traditionally a time to think about personal development and change. This year, with the somewhat bleak economic climate around the world, it may be a good time to take a hard look at your work and decide if you want to make some changes.
But do you need a whole new career?
Current thinking suggests not. Careers are no longer linear or ascending. Instead, they are much more flexible. You may want to try moving sideways, or into a different industry, to see if you find it more rewarding. To do this, it can help to think about five key areas:
Your strengths, which make you stand out from the crowd;
Your values and what motivates you;
Your confidence and belief in yourself;
Your network and relationships with others; Y
Your ability to explore and capitalize on opportunities.
This career planning and management process is likely to be familiar to anyone who has done any form of a formal apprenticeship, especially as it relates to an element of personal development. It's a pretty standard process.
However, this standard process does not always work in practice.
Few of us rise consistently throughout our careers. In fact, few of us stay in the same career or even the same line of work throughout our working lives, and given that our working lives may now span four or five decades, that shouldn't come as a surprise. Priorities change and our abilities and expectations develop. New opportunities are opening up and we want to be able to take advantage of them.
However, this does not mean that career management skills are no longer important.
Quite the opposite, in fact. You can drift through life and expect to take advantage of the opportunities that are offered to you. However, without some sort of focused look at their skills and particularly the gaps in them, the opportunities are likely to be fewer and fewer. What's more, you may get to a point where you start thinking “I wish I could have done x…”.
In life, you make your own luck to a certain extent.
Nobody cares about your career as much as you do.
Thinking about where you want to be—planning, setting goals, and figuring out how to meet them—enables you to take advantage of more opportunities.
What influences your career path?
There are many things that can influence your career path or journey. These include:
What interests you, many times they tell us to follow our dreams, to make a job out of a passion, or to do what interests us most.
The type of lifestyle you want, because this influences what work is possible and desirable. There is a growing understanding of the importance of a good work-life balance, but this remains more difficult to achieve in many areas of work than others. It is also more possible to work flexibly in some places and jobs than in others.
Where do you wanna live? This may affect the jobs available to you. Even with the rise of working from home, not all jobs can be done remotely.
What you want to win. Obviously, not all types of work pay the same, and you may not be able to afford to do the work you want. You may, for example, discover that you cannot afford training or that the income from work is simply not enough to support your preferred lifestyle.
To plan or not to plan?
It is not essential to have a rigid plan for every last move in your career.
Sometimes the most successful career changes are the ones that came out of the blue, perhaps out of a chance meeting or conversation. It is important to have enough flexibility to be able to take advantage of those opportunities when they present themselves.
However, in order for you to take advantage of those opportunities, you must have done enough planning to have the necessary skills.
So it's helpful to think ahead from time to time about what opportunities you'd like and what skills you'd need to get there.
Of course, as you develop in your chosen career, you will also learn more about yourself and what you like to do. Your vision of your preferred opportunities can change and therefore your development needs too.
Career management needs, above all, to be relatively flexible.