One Habit that will Really Accelerate Your Career Success
17 March 2016
Gardens need fertilising, houses need spring cleaning, cars need servicing, and we need to visit the dentist and the doctor on a regular basis. We know that when we give the important areas of our lives regular check ups they perform better for us – the car doesn’t break down, we don’t need major teeth fillings, and there is less chance of moldy food in the fridge.
Careers are just the same. The more regular maintenance you give your career the more you will see your definition of success occurring and the less emergency work you might need to do on your career in the future.
When you check in on your career on a regular basis – I recommend every 6 months – you are more likely to take the incremental action that keeps you on track and making small decisions and adjustments that are easier and more natural and keep you moving forward.
I have sat down and listened to many people who have found themselves at crisis points in their career because they have neglected to do small regular things that keep them achieving career satisfaction. When you are totally frustrated, burnt out, disillusioned, and lacking any motivation, meaning or purpose in your career the job of getting things back on track is more daunting. It also often involves taking quite drastic and courageous steps – steps that sometimes people are just not able to do.
Just like car check ups and doctor check ups, career check ups work best when you have regular things that you look at. My recommendation for your career check up is to run through a series of questions that have you check in on yourself, the environment around you, the decisions you want to be making and the actions you need to be taking. Ask yourself these questions every 6 months even when you feel that everything is going well in your career. This regular maintenance ensures you notice small changes early and can do the small things to make adjustments so that big, destructive, repair work doesn’t need to happen down the track.
In subsequent blog posts I will take you through each of these four areas in much more detail, giving you specific things to think about and do. To start you off I have listed some immediate career maintenance questions you might like to ask yourself in each area:
· What skills, knowledge and capabilities have you developed in the last 6 months?
· What career opportunities have you recently taken advantage of?
· When did you last stretch yourself and take on more challenges?
· How have you used your strengths recently?
· What new beliefs have you adopted? Or what less than useful ones have you dropped?
· Do your values still align with the work you do?
· What new responsibilities do you have since you last checked in on your career?
· Is what was meaningful to you 6 months ago still meaningful to you now?
· Do you feel you have made progress over the last 6 months?
Know Your Environment
· How have your personal circumstances changed over the last 6 months?
· What social, political, cultural or financial trends are emerging that may have an impact on your career?
· What are people in your network doing that is of interest to you?
· What has been happening in your professional association (e.g. Institute of Public Administration Australia - IPAA)?
· What volunteer opportunities have you taken advantage of?
· Is your Linkedin profile up to date and are you following topics of professional interest?
· What goals have you achieved or made progress on in the last 6 months?
· Have any longer term goals shifted for you in the last 6 months?
· What criteria are you currently using to help you make career decisions (e.g. location, salary, challenge, meaning, people, skill match, type of organisation…)?
· What proactive decisions have you made for your career in the last 6 months?
· Have other people made decisions about your career on your behalf?
· What have you actively done in the last 6 months that has impacted, either positively or negatively, on your career?
· How successful were the actions you have taken for your career?
· Do you need to revisit any actions – perhaps do them a little differently?
· What is the smallest thing you have done, or could do, in service of your career?
· What is the scariest thing you have done, or could do, in service of your career?
· You may also like to check out a recent post I did on the principles of career success to see what actions you have taken in the last 6 months that align with these principles.
It is not hard to do regular maintenance on your career. It really only takes an hour or so every 6 months. My suggestion is you pop a reminder in your calendar to do Career Maintenance on the 1st of February and the 1st of August every year. My hunch is you will enjoy the reflection and will see tangible benefits.
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