Charting Your Career Path

By Connie Covey

Our careers encompass almost every aspect of life. It is not just the time we put, often 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year. Your career also affects your psychological, physical, social, and economical well being. Because of its impact on all these areas, it is worth taking time out to evaluate your career. There are three key aspects to this process: 1) career planning, 2) career development and 3) career management.

Career Planning

The career planning phase is important because it provides you with a road map that will help you get the most out of our career. If you do not know where you are or where you want to be, how will you know how to get there? Establishing a strong sense of focus, purpose, and intention is the goal of career planning.

This phase will not tell you everything about your career, but it will help you learn about the foundational building blocks upon which you can build your career. Once you understand these building blocks, you can begin crafting your plan toward a more meaningful career.

First, explore what makes you unique. This will help you answer the question of "Where am I now?"

  • Explore your past accomplishments
  • Explore your skills, such as technical skills, self-management skills, and transferable skills
  • Identify your interests, including social, artistic, investigative, realistic, conventional, and enterprising
  • Identify your values by writing them out on a sheet of paper then compare each one against the other and pick your top three values

Identifying your values is perhaps the most important part of the process because it will help you identify the things you ought to be saying yes to and what sort of things you would say no to.

  • Consider your personality. For instance, are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you enjoy people or do you enjoy being alone? Do you process your world through thoughts or through feelings? How do you make decisions?

Career Development:

Now that you have answered the question of where you are and have established the foundation of your uniqueness, it is time to answer the question, "Where do you want to go?" This question is best addressed in the career development phase. This is the phase where you will consider the action steps that will take you from where you are to where you want to be.

You may need to consider educational components, skill training, experience in a particular industry or field of work. During this phase you will need to examine various strategies in order to obtain the development component you require. Give yourself permission to be creative in your approach to problem-solving-sometimes the solution is not always the obvious answer.

Be honest and clear with yourself during the decision making process to select the appropriate action steps that will take you forward. From there you may wish to identify potential areas of weakness. It is not possible to change something you do not know exists, so be honest with yourself and ask yourself what behaviors need to be changed to reach your goal. Along the way do not forget to explore how you can strengthen your successful behaviors that will enhance your effectiveness in your career.

Career Management

Now it's time to move your career in a direction that reflects your careful career planning and development strategies. Career management is an on-going, repetitive process where you will refer back to your career plan and embark upon further development as the need arises over time. As you manage your career, contemplate the following:

It is five years from now - the year 2010. You are a competent, highly respected (insert your job title here), working at your dream job.

  • Where are you working?

  • Who are your customers? What are they like?

  • What is your office or work space like?

  • A typical day in this job will find you…

  • As you go through this typical day, you feel…

Coming back from lunch today, you find two messages. One is from a former customer. When you return the call, you find that this person wants to tell you about the latest events in his life. He is so happy, and thanks you profusely for helping him in the past.

  • What is the customer so grateful to you for?

The second message is from a current customer who wants to meet with you this afternoon to discuss (insert the nature of your business here).

  • Who is this person?

  • What does she want to discuss with you?

There is a knock on your door - this customer has arrived.

  • "What do the two of you discuss?

All of your planning and development these last five years have brought you to where you are.

  • "Where are you?

As the customer leaves, she says: "Thanks so much! You really helped me."

  • "What happened that resulted in this mutual satisfaction and in anticipation of your next time together?

To help guide you through this process, there are many excellent resources available ranging from books and coaches to career development counselors. Enjoy the journey as you work toward reaching your career goals.

Connie Covey, B. Admin., PMP
Career Development Coach
Covey Performance Group Inc.
tel: (403) 730-4720

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