Most people put a lot of effort into their work. Unfortunately, they often neglect themselves in the process. Time served is no longer enough to progress your career (if it ever was). You need to consciously develop your personal and professional skills to succeed and you need a plan to get from where you are to where you want to be.
Developing a career map can help you focus your attention on your own development. More importantly, like any good map – it can also help you measure your progress and keep you heading in the right direction. That doesn’t mean that you might not get lost on the way but having a map means that you can take action earlier when you do get lost too.
Unfortunately, it’s not always simple to develop a career map. There’s no pre-existing map to copy – we have to create our own. So how can you become the cartographer for your own career? Well… according to John Addison, of John Addison Leadership, there are some simple steps that you can take:
Give Yourself as Much Time as You Give Your Career
Author/Copyright holder: huppypie. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The starting point, as you might expect, is to decide to create your map. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut or your career’s not quite moving like you wanted it to – now is the perfect time to get started. You don’t need any expensive tools to start creating your development program today.
You go to work every weekday and you’ll want to set some time aside every day to improve yourself too. That means fitting development activities into your already busy schedule. The good news is that not every development opportunity requires a 3 year university course or 2 weeks with your company’s training department.
Think about what books you could read, what online courses you could sign up for, how you could better spend that five minutes between meetings than talking about football at the water cooler…
It’s Not All About the Long-Term
The aim of a career map is to help you to make incremental progression towards your goals – it should be as much about the journey as the destination itself. If you have “become CEO of my own agency” in mind on the first day of your first design job; it’s going to feel like an eternity to get there.
Break down what you want to do into a series of smaller, more easily obtainable steps and work towards each step in turn. So if you want a management job – you’ll need a little management experience (how can you get some small managerial responsibilities within your current role?) and a little management training (find courses, tapes, books, articles, etc. and get learning). Then make your goals about gaining experience and learning. Look a few weeks ahead rather than years and you’ll start to feel like you’re progressing.