Have you ever found yourself looking back at the career goals your manager set for you 6 to 12 months ago, only to realize you are caught up in day-to-day tasks that aren’t getting you any closer to what you really want in your career?
A Career Coaching client and I recently concluded that her entire career journey has never been directed by her, but by her boss and organization. While she wants to have more significance in her career, she feels stuck in support duties that don’t get her any closer to the decision making table.
She needed a goal that was truly hers – and to reach that goal, she needed a strategy – and to bring that strategy to life, she needed tactics.
In my client’s mind, she couldn’t distinguish between her “goal” or “strategy”. She thought getting her MBA (which she did several years ago) was her goal and strategy in-one. But in reality, “getting an MBA” was a tactic. Understanding the difference is essential in reaching career success. Here’s how I recommend looking at your career goal arc.
- Identify the ultimate goal. Start with the end in mind. Get specific in where and what you want your responsibilities to be. After all, it’s pretty hard to hit a target if you haven’t done the work required to even identify your target. This is where networking and talking to others in your field really comes into play. See – networking isn’t just about GETTING a job! Talking to others will help you investigate what role would make you happiest. Sure, you may not have all the skills or experience needed to jump right into that role. But you can discover what is necessary to get there eventually.
- Identify the strategy. So now that you have a goal, what’s your plan in getting there? This is when you need to be realistic about where you are in your career presently, and where you need to be in the near future in order to accomplish your goal. Do you need to jump into a completely new industry? Do you need to re-brand yourself? Do you simply need to have an intentional conversation with your current manager? What, in broad terms, do you need to change in order to move your career forward? Label that, and you’ll have identified your strategy.
- Identify the tactics. Now is the time to list out the actual, tangible steps you need to take to bring that strategy to life. Do you need to go get an MBA in order to jump into a new industry? Great. Just make sure you think about HOW you will use that MBA to do so. Are you repositioning yourself? What tools do you need to create in order to do that – a personal website, social media profile, resume, maybe even Career Coaching? How will you use these tools to make impact, not just “build it” and hope “they will come”? And if you need to have a talk with your manager, how will you approach that meeting so that you can present your case wisely, concisely, and respectfully? Nail these tactics, and your strategy will be set for success.
If you are floundering in your career, go back and consider your plan to reach your goals. If it’s not the 3-step process outlined above, maybe it should be.