A new year can be your springboard for re-invention. It is a natural starting point to set your career goals. But how can you be sure you achieve them once the buzz of the New Year is gone?
Although I’d be first to admit there is no magic bullet, here are four insights I gleaned in my own career transition that may help get you to the finish line.
Lay the groundwork – Separate your beliefs from those of others.
At every turn, others’ opinions surround us. You can’t go through life without heeding others’ advice, but if you are not careful, you can get swept away in others’ views, forgetting or de-prioritizing your own. When I considered moving on from my old job, I heard a number of concerns. How will you re-enter the workforce? What about the years invested in your field? Are you prepared potentially to start over?
You may be facing similar questions as you are off-ramping or on-ramping in your career. Whether expressed outright or simply implied, others’ views can subtly undermine your confidence, make you question your resolutions and thwart your best efforts to make a change. Know yourself. Prioritize your values. Heed others’ advice but listen to your own voice.
Be the giver, not the networker.
I had lunch with an old colleague some time ago. She recently launched her own business. I was working on launching mine. I sought her counsel and tips for overcoming challenges that might arise along the way. We talked about networking. I am not a natural networker so I listened carefully. Her advice? Approach networking as an opportunity to give, not to receive.
What better way to build a relationship than to help someone out? Find a way to solve a problem they have, and they may return the favor someday. People who give are memorable – they inspire others to give. I got home after lunch to find an e-mail from my colleague with links to resources to help with getting my business off the ground. Helpful, impactful, generous. That’s advice I’ll readily follow.
Follow a roadmap to the finish line.
It’s a lot easier to reach your goal when you can envision it clearly in the distance. Have you ever run a marathon? It’s an analogy that’s applied often to job searches. The last mile is intimidatingly far, but if you are a serious runner, you’ve studied the map, you’ve visited the course ahead of the race, and you know what the finish line looks like.
Then the race begins. Around mile 10 you’ll begin to lose steam. 26.2 is still far in the distance. But if you keep your eyes on the short-term goal – mile 11 is just around the corner. Soon you will celebrate and keep going to 12.
Want to stay on course? Mile-mark your job search. Keep your long-term goal on the horizon, but strive to reach short-term targets. Fill in your calendar daily, weekly, monthly with what you intend to accomplish. Then run your race.
Keep yourself accountable and energized.
Any challenging endeavor is guaranteed to have some bumps in the road. A career transition is certain to. Your mile-marked calendar can keep you accountable, but probably not energized. When you are running on empty, you are looking for water not counting miles.
Struggling to reach your goals despite your best efforts? Set up a weekly or monthly check-in with a friend or a mentor. Meet with your coach. Find fellow career changers to lunch with. You’ll leave energized to tackle your next challenge, whether it’s polishing your resume, looking for your next networking opportunity, or working on your next blog piece. I did this week. The result? This article.