“Should I change jobs?”
“What job should I look for next?”
“Which job should I take?”
“Where is my career heading?”
These are a few of the questions we’ve noticed Management Consultant’s dealing with every day. And, they are difficult questions to answer. Your career can have a big impact on your life, and even seemingly small decisions can have a big impact on determine your direction.
The solution? Develop a career development strategy. Yes, career plans can sometimes feel like a waste of time. After all, your circumstances will change and potentially make the plan obsolete but, that’s only if the plan doesn’t provide any flexibility. Nobody ever said that you have to follow the plan to the letter, a career plan is there to help you make effective decisions along the way and to stay on course.
Ultimately, a good career development strategy is one that captures your vision of what you want to achieve and help you figure out how to get there.
I recently read a book by a former junior doctor called This Is Going To Hurt. The book is a reflective account of the authors experience and what ultimately motivated him to leave behind what most would consider a rewarding and fulfilling career, to become a comic writer.
When the author, Adam, looked back on their journey — on his high school education, seven years in medical school, and eighty-hour weeks managing life and death situations — he said something surprising.
Adam felt that their career path had been laid out for them by his parents, who were also medics. They expected him to become a doctor too. So, he did. And never stopped to think about it. he never stopped to ask, “is this what I want?”
Adam ultimately felt regret when reflecting on the last ten years of their life. Because he had barely stopped to reflect on their journey. It felt like he had just gone along with what he perceived to be a pre-determined plan.
Do you ever feel like your career is moving so quickly that you are out of control?
If so, take some time to reflect honestly and critically on your journey so far. What have you enjoyed? What would you like to do more of in the future? What do you want to avoid? What do you want?
If you do this — if you take the time to stop and reflect — you’ll most likley find that it’s much easier to plan your future.
Next, set some goals. Not just for your career, either. It can be just as helpful to think about and write down what you would really like to achieve in your life as a whole. What are your financial, family, physical, social, mental development, and spiritual goals?
Setting goals for other areas of your life is outside of the scope of this article, but the reason I mention them here is that, if there are conflicts between goals in each area of your life, then you are much less likely to achieve them.
For example, if you would like to be the CEO of a top consulting firm but your spouse wouldn’t support that goal and the lifestyle associated with it, then you have a problem. That doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t chase that goal but, by forming goals for other areas of your life, you can deal with the conflicts and attempt to resolve them.
Some more goal-setting tips:
Once you know your goals, create a plan. Work backwards, step-by-step. Think of it like you are planning a journey as the captain of your own ship. The ship is yours. The choice of where you go is yours. Your first job is to decide where you want to go. Your next job is to lay out a course to get there.
Of course, you might need to change course if you encounter a storm, but if you know which direction you are heading can you get back on course and arrive quickly and safely.
Your career is just the same. You will face barriers that stand between you and your ambitions. You will take a wrong turn from time to time. But, if you have a clear goal and a plan, you will get there eventually.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this quote from Horace, the Roman poet:
“He has half the deed done who has made a beginning.”
If you’ve read this far then I might assume you are interested in taking control of the direction of your career, but this advice can only be of any value to you if you act on it.
If so, we publish regular guides and articles on our careers page for Management Consultants. If you would like to speak with us about your career or a new job, please use the form on our contact page and we’ll reply in due course.
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