Career Check-up

By Lorraine Clemes, TCP Associate

Careers are organic things that need tending. Often we get so busy in our lives that the years fly by and we forget that we started our careers with dreams or goals in mind. How long has it been since you asked yourself, “Is my career on track?” If it’s been awhile, this new decade may be the excuse you need to get going.

Steps to consider

Careers are personal expressions of our skills, values, interests and personality in the context of our organizations and society. You may have set out on a career that made sense at the time, but that doesn’t fit with the life-stage you’re in now or what’s happening in organizations these days. Factors such as the impact of technology have changed many careers. We owe it to ourselves to be aware of how much personal and professional satisfaction we are, or aren’t, getting from our careers, and to continue reaching for our goals. That’s a win-win for us, the organizations we work for and the people who share our lives.

A check-up requires us to look at both ourselves and the bigger trends around us. It’s often a relief to be honest about how we feel and to put specific action steps in place if they are needed. That’s one way to keep motivation and passion in our lives. Consider the following questions.

Micro/Personal level

Regardless of your past dreams, from your vantage point today, ask yourself:
Do you like what you do?
What are you most proud of in your career?
Where did you expect you would be in your career and life now?
What causes you to get stuck or procrastinate?
What is the most important career goal you have left to achieve?
What is one step you could take to get closer to that goal?

Macro/Societal level

Often we resist accepting changing realities and can end up being left behind or somewhere that doesn’t work for us. Consider:
How might technology, demographics, new laws or another factors change the trajectory of your career?
What has changed in your field since you started your career?
Are you up- to-date with how your career field fits within the larger picture?
Are there actions you could take to be closer to the leading edge or to be a leader in the emerging trends?

Next steps

If it’s time to make your career healthier, here are some suggestions:

  • Join or become more active in a relevant association
  • Ensure your certifications are up to date
  • Research emerging trends
  • Network – which is just good mutual communication in action
  • Hire a coach to dig deeper into your situation and assist you with making the best decisions and getting an action plan started
  • Set time aside for honest reflection on your 3 to 5 year goals and then consider what you need to do to get there
  • If you’re a leader, ensure that you are tracking your team members’ and high potentials’ career aspirations so you can provide the most relevant feedback and suitable assignments possible.

Over my twenty years as a career/leadership coach I’ve observed that most successful people are intentional about their life and career goals.  That doesn’t mean we need to plan everything and expect it all to happen – surprises and serendipity occur continuously. But it does mean that in the midst of our activity, we can benefit from setting time aside to check in, reflect and tune up the direction of our careers. If you’re aware of what’s important to you and how you’d like to engage in your career, then you will be ready to recognize, seize or proactively seek your best opportunities.