This post is part of the Professional Independence Project series. Is it time to fire your CEO and reorganize the business of BrandYOU™? Find out! Have you read any of the articles citing the repeated reinventions Joan Rivers achieved in her long career? Joan did an exemplary job of proactively managing her own brand and evolving her professional life in fresh directions without sacrificing her values, integrity, or passions. Are you managing your own career as effectively as she did?
PurposeJoan recognized that just as companies of all sizes need a mission statement, individuals need to clarify what they do what they do and what drives their focus. This career or life purpose underlies all effective career planning. Once you know what drives you, you’re ready to begin designing your Strategic Career Plan – a roadmap outlining your career progression over the next five to 20+ years. Your career plan serves as your AAA TripTik™, guiding your professional journey through a shifting landscape. Keep your plan flexible, though. If you’re career path is to be continuous, it must enable you to adapt to the rapid-paced change we all face, from labor market ups and downs, disasters, economic shifts to corporate reorganizations, personal growth, and unexpected family events that demand rewrite your priorities. An effective career plan encompasses six key elements:
- Your career values: What matters most to you in your career? Do you value challenge, responsibility, fairness, creativity or something else altogether? Make a list of your Top 10 career values and flush out your Top 3-5 so you can use them as a decision-making compass throughout your working life.
- Your Personality: What kind personality do you have? What kind of work environments, teams, and bosses best mesh with your character? Note 3-5 of your strongest traits and add them to your decision-making compass.
- Your Transferable Skills : What are your strongest and most universal skills – those that relevant in multiple industries or myriad sectors of the same industry? You’ll need a Top 10 list here, too, but note that you can develop new skills anytime you need them. As a consequence, you’ll see a lot of skills moving into and out of that list as the years unfold.
- Your Passions: What are you passionate about? Which causes get you riled up or drive you to influence and reshape the world around you? These may be harder to identify than the other elements listed here, but passions assume greater importance later in life so they deserve equal decision-making attention as you move into your 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and beyond.
- Your Gifts: What are you gifted at doing? Are there things you excel at that no one ever had to teach you? These gifts are yet another important facet of your decision-making compass that should be unearthed and leveraged fully throughout your working life.
- Your Credentials: What are your educational credentials and certifications? What credentials do want to attain next, and what role will they play in your career? Research suggests we return to school for another degree, additional training, or another certification every three to five years on average. It’s never too early to begin planning your next significant learning investment.