I have a closet obsession with creating new healthy recipes. I get so wrapped up in it I black out and end up with loads of food and not enough people to eat it. Despite that, it’s therapeutic.
Years ago when I was working like a dog, I never had time to cook, let alone come up with new recipes. I was on the road all the time; if I had time to eat, it’d be a challenge to find something healthy on a menu. That meant a lot of room service salad. Doesn’t that sound kinda gross? I’ll just be over here crunching on my salad in bed if you need me…
I didn’t even know this was a hobby until I took some control over my schedule. Before I took stock of my life, I gave all my focus to my job. I loved working hard and seeing the results of that work.
For a competitive person, it’s hard to find balance when being the best is a priority. (tweet this!)
But let me tell you this, from someone who’s been to burn out and back: you can still accomplish without sacrificing the rest of your life.
Many of my clients come to me to figure out what to do next- to navigate a new leadership position, to get a promotion, or to transition careers. A part of the process is to commit to a 3 year career plan so they can take action now that will help them to reach those goals. Making conscious decisions around your career is the only way to avoid hating your job.
I use this Career Plan Template with my Premium one-to-one clients – here it is for you to steal!
A common saboteur to achieving goals is the idea of waiting for the perfect time to make changes to your lifestyle or job.
It has you fearing change and thinking: “I’ll go for that promotion when…,” or “I’ll look for another job when…” or “I’ll be able to make an impact as a leader once…”
Well, timing is a slippery little sucker. If you try to control it, you’ll likely be let down.
Opportunities don’t show up when it’s convenient; we have to be willing to trust in their timing. (tweet this!)
While it’s safe to stay put, change leads to growth. Maybe that means a different job or a new company. Or maybe it’s being a stronger leader or a better version of yourself. Either way, change is a good thing.
Mapping out a career plan is about finding balance between our goals and what may come up along the way; finding the spot between the rigid and the elusive.
Often we bite off more than we can chew when we set goals. We want to dream big and to reach for the stars. And amen to that!
However, we’ve got to start somewhere, and the somewhere is less glamorous. It’s mapping out the first steps that’ll move us toward those stars and that can involve hard work. These first steps are usually where people give up.
The key is having an idea of where you want to go and who you want to be, being open to what may pop up and taking small concrete steps toward those goals now.
I don’t believe in long term plans. I think it’s great to have aspirations but anything too concrete seems to beg for a monkey wrench.
My theory is to have a career plan that’s no more than 3 years out (1 year if that makes you feel better). Life can change, new opportunities may come your way, your priorities and family may evolve during that time. Anything longer begins to tempt fate which leads to self-criticism and a feeling of failure. No thanks.
And besides, those kind of plans can instantly weigh us down and instead of motivating make us feel stuck. We don’t want that. Keep it easy and continue updating it every couple years.
Use my Career Plan Template to begin your career plan.
Here’s how it works:
- Begin by visualizing your ideal work situation in detail. This will likely involve your ideal lifestyle as well. Write it all down!
- As you move down the sheet, you’ll compare your current work situation with that ideal. This is a great eye opener. I recommend considering your priorities as you work through this section.
- Next, jot down your career and personal goals for the next 3 years. As you jot these down, make sure they’re SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and tangible).
You’ll notice a section on your personal and health goals. Fill those out since they’ll be demanding your time and energy too.
- Now you’re going to take the goals you’d like to focus on and ask yourself why you want to achieve them and what obstacles may get in the way. This is to make sure what you’re dedicating your life to is a focus for the right reasons.
- Once you’re clear, begin to fill out the steps necessary to achieve that bigger goal. Make these small, actionable items. Adding a commitment date is the best way to hold yourself accountable.
I believe in the concept of consciously designing your career. But if you’re too focused on one outcome, you may miss out on outside-the-box opportunities and the chance to create your own options.
The balance is truly between having your sights set on a destination, fuzzy or otherwise, but being open to what comes your way. With your head down and your blinders on, you may be able to climb up, up, up but once you get there, you want to know you’ve made the right choices for you and who you want to be.
Your turn: when have you set a goal and reached it? What was your secret? Let us know in the comments below!
* If one of your goals is to up your leadership skills by getting a promotion, being a better leader or simply leading your life, my leadership assessment tool, Discover Your Signature Style, will help get clear on your leadership potential and how you can use it to get ahead. Be sure to enter your name and email below to get the inside scoop on the launch (psst: it’s early September!) .