Tag Archives: goals

A One-Day Career Building Plan

Everyone struggles with finding enough time to work on their career, especially when they already have a job.  But that doesn’t stop us from doing a few activities when we can.   Just walk around the office and watch people.  You’ll see some looking for jobs while others may be building their networks on LinkedIn or Facebook.   We just can’t seem to stop thinking about our situation and how desperately we need to improve it.  So, each day, we make small attempts to create new opportunities for ourselves.

The problem is that this process takes a long time, and after a while, the daily miniscule progress will begin to weigh heavily on our motivation and reduce our job satisfaction.  The good news is that there is a way to break this monotony.  The answer is….a single career day.  Have you ever taken one day out of your busy schedule to dedicate to promoting your career goals? I’ve done this for years and it’s a great way to recharge your enthusiasm for your career.  You just simply take a day away from work and focus on activities that further your goals.  One day of intense focus on your career goals can do more than 3 months of those miniscule activities you do during the normal work day.

Here are some of the things you can do during your CAREER DAY.

Training/Seminars.  This should be done in-person, as it also provides the benefit of networking and interacting with new people.  This training doesn’t have to be on the skills you use at work.  It can be something totally foreign to you, but it does need to be something that you have a passion for.  Ideally, the training is something that gets you engaged in an activity.  Most professionals will target activities like interview training, personal branding classes, leadership development, etc.  However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to these normal activities.  I had a client who always wanted to be a singer.  So I suggested she take a voice lesson to see how good she really was, or at least get an opinion from a voice coach.  You see, most of us have dreams that are different than what we do in our day job, yet we never really evaluate the alternative path we really want to take.  That’s madness.  Determine your passion and find a way to spend a day evaluating that potential path.  It could save you a lot of time or it might just give you that nudge you need to pursue that dream full time.

Networking events.  Sure this one sounds a little lame but I really enjoy events.  If you’ve ever wanted to hone your skills in introducing yourself, selling yourself or showing off your expertise, events are chock full of people you can practice on.  You can walk into the event with the mindset that it really doesn’t matter if your techniques don’t work perfectly.  You’re experimenting to learn how to influence people.  In fact, I usually take a notebook and capture notes on how people respond to my methods.   The fun part is that it’s an event for learning so there’s no pressure to perform at any particular level.

Mentors.  Some professionals use mentors.  The more successful ones use many mentors and take time to visit them.  Taking a day to connect with people who can give you advice on how to proceed with your career is extremely helpful.   Mentors don’t have to be in your organization.  It’s often useful to have mentors who are familiar with your company but not in it.  They can provide a unique perspective on the workings of the organization.  One of my clients would establish mentorships with high level professionals from outside companies  that had influence on his company.  These included vendors, customers and partner companies.

Planning.   Some years ago, we developed a team-based approach to career development.  It is a very detailed method for building your own career support team that helps each other identify and achieve their own goals.  It’s called the Blitz Approach and was published in 2008 in our book, Blitz The Ladder.  The Blitz team members get together ever so often to discuss their plans and figure out how to implement them.  These meetings are very motivational as you realize that you have a team of people dedicated to helping you become a success and….you identify some actions for you to work on.  Your career needs constant nurturing in a society that seems to revel in change.  You have to put a lot of intentional effort and energy into your dreams.

Most professionals feel they have talent; that is, special skills that warrant a higher level of success than they have obtained.  The problem is that they think someone will see their amazing abilities and give them that opportunity they’ve been waiting for.  Strangely enough, people will sit in the same job or company for years waiting.  A successful career isn’t for the weak hearted.  Those who wait get a job for the rest of their life.  For those who want a successful, exciting and rewarding career, well, that path requires some serious effort over a long period of time.  And, long periods of time require lots of motivation.  Of course, you have to take all of this one day at a time.  So, make sure you take a day to really focus on your dream.  Do something that totally encompasses that dream.  Enjoy it.  Revel in it.  It will make you want to take more career days for yourself.

Maintaining Motivation in 2015

HOW CAN YOU STAY MOTIVATED IN THE FACE OF SO MUCH CHANGE AND CHALLENGE?

Most individuals don’t reach the success they desire for many reasons.  Some never really create goals or a path to achieving them.  Some procrastinate, while others can’t overcome the fear of the unknown.  Still some succumb to distraction and deviate their actions before completing their tasks. These forces push us off track so that we never achieve our goals, which may lead to underachievement, stagnant career mobility,  decreased job satisfaction and more.   Here are a few steps that will help you maintain your motivation in the new year and begin developing a process for achieving your goals.

Know your barriers.  When it comes to your goals, why don’t you achieve them?  You must first understand why you don’t reach them to develop a process for maintaining momentum. My biggest challenge is that I see too many opportunities to create new products or services. I’m approached by people all the time to create something new.  I only have so much energy to devote to my activities and if I spread myself too thin, all activities will suffer.  Luckily, I’m aware of this challenge and force myself to focus on the most important activities at the time.  I write all ideas and opportunities so I don’t lose them or if my plans change and I free up some time which I can devote to something new.  So what are your barriers?  Is it courage, knowledge, skills, or network?

Create workarounds.  Once you understand your barriers, you’ll need to develop a process for getting around them.  Here are a few workarounds for some common barriers.

  • Courage – Every successful person battles this. No one knows all the answers to problems you’ll face but having the courage to push through each issue is the key to reaching success.  You know people who have done some great things.  Contact them and ask for support.  They’ll happily share their story with you.  Surround yourself with people who don’t let your barrier get in the way of their success.  They’ll show you how to deal with it.
  • Network – This is cited as the most challenging barrier for most people I work with. It is also the easiest to overcome.  You just need a simple process for contacting influential people every day.  It will require discipline, creativity and persistence.  The goal here is to find people who can influence your path and continue to contact them until they respond.  You may run into their gatekeepers first but keep pushing to get to your desired audience.
  • Knowledge – This is very common too. People often say they don’t know what to do.  Well, I can assure you that doing nothing won’t get you there either.  Too often I run into issues I know nothing about.  It’s not really a barrier.  It’s an opportunity to learn something new.  Finding resources for learning are everywhere.  You can search online, libraries, subject matter experts, friends, or colleagues.

I talk about motivation a lot.  Why?  According to the research of Dr. Anders Ericsson, motivation is the most significant predictor of success. In simple terms, Dr. Ericsson found that experts in many walks of life, whether sport, music, chess, dance, or business, had put in the most hours at their craft.  You might be aware of the concept he coined; that is, the rule of 10,000 hours.  This is really important for those who remain in their field for a large portion of their career.  In such cases, ability becomes less important and motivation grows to be the most important factors.  It enables you to able to pursue change in the face of obstacles, boredom, fatigue, stress, and the desire to do other things.

However, for today’s young professionals, change seems to be the flavor of the day.  Most of these professionals don’t experience 35 years in the same company or even the same field.  There are two forces that are influencing the fluidity of today’s careers: the company and the individual.  Both entities feel the internal and external forces for change and respond to them.  With so much change occurring, professionals must have sufficient motivation to be able to grow sufficient positive motivation and minimize the negative motivation in their quest for their own success.  Both types of motivation can be a barrier, such as too little positive internal motivation and too much external negative motivation.   Look at the matrix below and create your own matrix to help you remember the factors that maintain your proper level of motivation.

motivation matrix

The external factors are outside of your direct influence but do affect your performance.  High performers value respect and if it isn’t present in their environment, they will be heavily de-motivated.  Similarly, if organizations are led by arrogant or micromanaging leaders, it will bestow feelings of insecurity upon its best performers and will result in lower performance.    It’s critical that you understand that there are many factors that impact your motivation, not just one or two things.  We are always looking for the ideal environment.  In a sense, we overlook the good things that are present and seek out the things that are absent.  For example, you might work in a company that provides great perquisites like travel, employee events, etc. but don’t provide bonuses, pay raises or promotions.  Eventually, the things that are missing will drive growth in dissatisfaction.  You must take time to analyze your environment to understand what you don’t have and then find ways to provide them.

The chart below shows you the ways I deal with motivation issues.  I use internal sources to fight thoughts of inadequacy, inferiority and so on by establishing goals and creating tangible proof that I’ve achieved them (e.g. books, articles, developing college classes).  Such tangibles provide me sufficient validation that I’m achieving my success. Then, feedback from my external sources keeps me focused on the quality and value of these tangibles.  It’s a simple “checks and balances” system for me.

motivation matrix 2

If you fail to assess these factors, your motivation will fluctuate and be driven by your environment or you can take steps to assess what you need and put these resources in place to ensure you’re always highly motivated to reach your goals.

The only question now is “who will you be?”

MY RESUME IS ALIVE!

Over the years, I’ve done quite a few resume reviews and updates. Typically, professionals are just asking to update their resume for the things they’ve recently accomplished. Often, this is a job title or company change. But how often do you add new things to the resume that give your product (i.e. YOU) more functionality? Sure, employers are interested in what you’ve done but they really want to know what you can do for them. There is a simple strategy for turning your resume into a powerful marketing paper for your career. If you’re not updating your marketing materials (e.g. resume) every year, you’re working on becoming obsolete.

At the end of each year, I like to engage in a little marketing strategy planning. I take a look at my resume and compare myself to many profiles I see online, like LinkedIn. I compare my education, skills, products and network with others who have similar backgrounds. Then, I ask myself one simple question, “Do I stand out?” If not, then I try to determine where I need to build my resume.

Education is an easy one. If I want to move up and everyone like me has a master’s degree and I don’t, then I might consider earning one. I like to see what types of degrees other professionals have in my position. Maybe my degree doesn’t provide all of the knowledge I need and another type of degree might make me a little more equipped to compete for the next level. While it’s easy to determine what I need, planning in my busy life is another story. So, I review this every year but may not engage in a degree right away. I may simply search for free classes online (MOOCs) to learn the things my peers already know.

Skills are always in need. What new skills do you need to develop each year? It’s no longer possible to develop a specific set of skills (as through your collegiate program) that will last your whole career. The needs of business change rapidly and companies seek many skills to meet those needs. Years ago I began paying closer attention to changes companies where experiencing and responded by building skills that would make me capable of helping them meet those needs. At one point, I saw the need for writing skills, so I began writing books. At another time, I saw the need for entrepreneurial skills, so I started my own company. By engaging directly in an activity, you can learn a great deal of the skill required to be good at it. It doesn’t mean you’ll be the best at it but you will understand it in greater detail. While it’s difficult to reinvent yourself completely after you’ve invested a lot of time in your primary skills, it is possible to enhance your offering by adding new functionality every year.

Contacts are the lifeblood of your career. While your references might not appear on your resume, they play a huge role in your access to opportunity. When I look at those LinkedIn professionals I’d like to emulate, I focus on their contacts. What titles do they have? What size companies do they work for? What alumni associations do they have? Naturally, we have a tendency to connect with people who are just like us, so we can relate to them more easily. Is it possible that this could be limiting our success? It’s certainly something to consider.

While the holidays are great times to consider the things we want to do next year, you should take some time to reflect on who you are and find a few areas that you can improve. No, I’m not talking about losing weight or whitening your teeth, although appearance is important too. I mean that about some developing some knowledge, skills or abilities that would make your more interesting to your employer or future employers.   Then, after you’ve begun building the newer you, update your profile and resume to reflect your changes.

Your resume (and social profiles) are a reflection of who you are. Let the world know that you are a vibrant, active, growing professional who is bent on continuous improvement. At the very least, you may just find something that will become a lifelong hobby, bringing you joy and happiness that your current job doesn’t offer. That will certainly bring you more balance in life.