Ask any college graduate: “Could you have imagined the career you have had when you were in college?” The standard answer will be: “my career has been different than anything I could have imagined.” In most cases, your career will be better than you could have imagined.
While the above may be true, it can also be disconcerting to those who want a life plan. While it may be impossible to develop a career plan, there are some general guidelines you might want to follow if you want a career that leads to a senior leadership position.
- Move beyond your comfort zone whenever you feel you have become confident in what you are doing. This can be a tough thing to do because it involves a lot of risk and uncertainty.
- Look for opportunities where you can make an impact. Impact in most cases refer to financial impact.
- Know your weaknesses and work to make them strengths. You don’t ever want to be denied an opportunity because those above you see a weakness.
- Have a continual reading program of biographies of successful people. Use these biographies as guidance for your own career.
- Identify mentors who can guide you in thinking through career options. These mentors can also expose you to opportunities you may not otherwise have.
- Keep in touch with those you have worked with in the past. Often these people will let you know of new opportunities.
- Always have a plan B should a current position not work out. An especially vulnerable time is when your current employer has undergone an ownership change.
- Develop a set of principles that you and your family can use in deciding upon career moves. Often career moves can have an impact on the entire family should a move be required or if the new job will require considerable absence from home.
- Set aside one day per year to write a reflection on your career and what you have learned and where you want to go. The process of writing down your reflection can be very helpful in discovering your next career direction.
- Focus your career decisions on who you want to be not what you want to have. Power and money can never be the deciding factor in a career if that requires you to become someone you don’t want to be.
When you think about your career decisions, you need to approach each one of them as “this is the best decision I could have made at the time.” Self-doubt can never be helpful in a career.