So how do you make great career decisions? Not just great decisions, but the right decisions for you? It involves some introspection and a few strategies that I’m going to share with you here.
The first strategy is having clarity on your career goals.
Is there a next level for you, and do you know specifically what that is? Maybe you’re looking for a promotion to a specific job or there is a certain number of clients that you want to attract to your business. Be as specific as you can with what you want as in “what is the exact job” and state to yourself an actual number of clients you want to pick up. When you are specific with your goals, you find more opportunities to achieve them. But you also create a benchmark and you can ask yourself good questions like, “Does this move me toward my number one goal, or not?” Or, “Is this the best use of my time or resources?”
The second strategy is being clear on how your career intersects with the other areas of your life.
We have a professional life, and we have a personal life, but we are only one person. Do you have commitments to young children or are they out of the nest? Are you a dual-income household or a single income? Do you have elderly family that you care for or are you more unencumbered?
I recently spoke at a client event, and I had the group brainstorming what may be next for them in their careers and a couple of women there, as excited as they were about their potential, knew they had to factor in the children they still had at home. About an hour later, one of the women had to leave because her son had to go to the emergency room. Thankfully, he’s fine. Your other areas of life and commitments will affect the time you have to devote to growing your career or business.
I urge you to look at all the areas of your life like career, health & fitness, relationships, family, spirituality, and professional development and prioritize them 1 through 6, most important through least important, knowing that they are ALL essential pieces of who you are. In addition to career, what other areas are most important and require your time and focus? Are those areas of your life functioning well or are they going downhill? Do they need more energy from you? Sure, where there’s a will, there’s a way. But at what expense?
The third strategy is having clarity on your career values.
You don’t wake up and go to work each day, saying, “Yippee! I get to write a report today!” You have tasks and responsibilities that you need to perform associated with your job, but it is the overall experience you have while you are at work, that will define whether you are fulfilled or floundering. What is important to you in your career? What must be present for you to feel valued and fulfilled? Is it a great team? The opportunity to grow and advance? How about flexibility or the ability to work remotely?
Your values become a benchmark for what is right for you. To find out what they are, get curious about what is important to you in the context of career? Ask this question again and again until you absolutely can’t think of anything else. Leave it and come back later to see if something else pops up. Create this list, prioritize it, and evaluate decisions you need to make against it to make sure the choices you make are serving you as well.
Debbie Peterson is a business keynote speaker, career growth strategist, and professional mentor supporting women and emerging leaders to create career success on their terms.