Sunday, October 5, 2014

1 Simple Way To Plan For Your Next Career

How do you plan for what is next in your career? Most people wait until they are ready to make a move before they start planning, but career management should be an on-going exercise that occurs whether things are going well or not. This article is a follow up to "5 Things Nobody Tells You BEFORE a Layoff" and is designed to encourage you to think different about your approach to career management.

Your career is a major part of who you are, and it can determine your quality of life, which is even more of a reason to continually plan. Those entering the workforce are in a very different season than those who have been working 5, 10, and 15 years or more. Your risk and tolerance level will change as the years increase, keep this in mind at every stage of your life: college graduate, newly wedded, new family, growing family, etc. With each life-changing event, you may need something different from your career, so planning is essential to survival and a core ingredient for success.

Despite the circumstances you are currently facing, positive or negative, there is 1 simple way to plan for what is next: Mapping scenarios will help you to effectively outline your actions and gain insight to make informed choices. 

In general, there are 3 scenarios that we all may experience:
  • The position is going well 
  • The position is ending
  • The position has been restructured 

For each of these use cases, there is something you can do to determine how you want to move forward. Right now, it's not about having all the answers, but using what you know to get started.

When the position is going well: This is not the time to rest on your laurels, but rather consider where you can improve. Whether it is additional training, certifications, or completing a degree, take the time to determine what will take your performance to the next level, then take action.

When the position is ending:  Assess where you are and what you can realistically do to keep the train on the track. If you are prepared, then your hard work should pay off. However, if you have not been planning and the end is eminent, determine what you can do in the meantime, do it, then start planning for where you ultimately want to be. The position may be ending, but this is not the end of you.

When the position is being restructured: You have to keep an open mind about what defines an opportunity. Just like you cannot judge a book by its cover, you also cannot completely know what this experience will afford you. Sometimes when we are forced out of our comfort zone, we are pushed towards a new performance level that we would not have created on our own. Take time to really evaluate if this is not what you want, then take the necessary actions to move forward.

Mapping scenarios allow you to explore possible situations and your probable response in each case. The benefit is in minimizing potential surprises and identifying a plan of action in the event one of your scenarios does actually occur.

Disclaimer: This is a personal exercise - you are the only one with the answers.