The best career decision you can ever make….
I want a new life…
I remember back in France, the story of our family doctor leaving his family and job to go volunteer with Doctors without Borders. At that time, I found that fascinating, to be moved by idealism;
and I thought it might have been very scary for his kids, to be abandoned by your dad because he thinks there is a better cause for him that them (I didn’t know if he had kids or not).
Fast forward, I have seen enough of life to know that at times, we all want to bag it all and start something new and fascinating.
It’s a nice fantasy, escaping a disappointing reality, but most people are responsible adults, sometimes to a fault.
They don’t wake up in the morning deciding that they want to leave their current lives to go volunteer somewhere in a remote location.
While we all have some form of escapism, we are also realistic.
We know we need to pay our dues, support ourselves and, most importantly, escaping is never really a solution until one has exhausted all others.
And then there is this reality: whatever we haven’t resolved now, we will carry forward, it’s called baggage. That applies whether we have a so-so relationship, a toxic friend, a broken dwelling or an unfulfilling job.
And this is also why sometimes quitting a job is not a solution, even if we have something else lined up.
We still need to ensure we are not leaving any door ajar, or we will find ourselves in the same situation, 6 months later in the new job.
So before we start dreaming of slamming the door with a grandiloquent ‘I quit’, why not envisaging seeing our current job from a new viewpoint?
Caught in a job fatigue?
How did we get there? There being the ‘I am done, and not staying one more minute here’?
Here is a personal observation that I can title: ‘Sequence of career hopelessness’;
It goes as follows:
I am bored.
I am not challenged.
I don’t like my job.
I don’t like my boss.
I am stuck.
I am looking for a new job.
I am looking to change career.
We all get that feeling at many points in our careers. Even when we are passionate about our jobs.
Why? Mainly because we have reached a sort of plateau and it’s about time to move on to something more aligned with our current potential.
And guess what happens when we don’t move up the corporate ladder?
We want to move away.
Of course, this is a perfectly legit way to advance one’s career…when it’s part of a bigger plan.
Career plan you said?
That’s the keyword, right here! a career plan
Yes! you heard me.
When we are caught in a career rut, when things are not going as we thought they would, the temptation is big to just jump ship at the first opportunity. But unless the situation is not tolerable, it pays to question how this new position is a value add in your resume.
To answer this question, you need to know what constitutes a value add for you.
Here comes the concept of a career plan.
Knowing what you are trying to achieve in your career gives it logic and consistency.
Not to mention that it allows you to take strategic decisions at each crossroads, and build a plan that tells a story (that’s your resume) of how you have been envisaging your professional developments from a bigger picture point of view.
A career plan is not a detailed day by day account of what you want your current and future jobs to be.
Such a plan is not realistic and very rigid.
Life happens, and like always on planet earth, the future belongs to those who adapt.
But the second you stop seeing your different jobs as a collection of random events, but as part of a larger masterplan (yours), you are no longer at the mercy of a changing environment, an unhelpful colleague or a toxic boss;
You are in the driver seat with the option of staying in the current lane as it gives you [income, new learnings, new network …];
Or move on because you have a faster car that needs more expansion.
How to figure out that career plan? Map it!
Career mapping projects you from your future destination, step by step backward to today.
Start by how you want to see yourself in 3 years, or 5 years.
Work your plan backward until today, identifying milestones along the way. And see which gaps, knowledge and experience, transferable skills, etc you need to start bridging to get you to your desired place in 5 years.
Let me give you a simple example: You are currently working in a financial institution. You feel you are going nowhere, you don’t want your boss’s job, you don’t want their problems, office politics, etc.
You cannot quit, you don’t have another job aligned, but you know there is something out there for you: you like finance, you want to work in a corporate environment, but right now, you are stuck and you feel lost as to what to do next.
Question 1: where do you see yourself in 3 years?
‘Working in a corporate, medium-sized, in their finance department, as treasurer’.
Question 2: What do you need to become a treasurer?
‘I need some more education and relevant experience’.
Question 3: how can you get more education?
‘Right now, I cannot afford to go back to a full-time school. I can do online courses’.
Question 4: how can you get relevant experience?
‘I can start with searching internally at my current company and doing more research via my network asking how other people changed career: then adapt according to my own experience’.
Question 5: what are your milestones?
‘In a year, I want to have found a job that allows me to be a step closer to becoming a treasurer.
In 2 years, I would have my certifications and other learnings done, with a job that has similar tasks that the ones required to be a treasurer.
So between years 2 and 3, I will be actively looking for a job with the official title of treasurer’.
The main quality of career mapping is to help you focus on your long-term goals, i.e. your vision, then see the logical steps that will trickle down from the destination to where you are today. Milestones are your mid-term goals. And steps in between stay flexible.
You make strategic decisions every day, focusing on your end-game, and working on acquiring more transferable skills, including in your current job that you dislike. You may decide to stay where you are as it may allow you to access trainings, networks, etc, or you can move to a new position with the end in mind.
Bottom line, that’s you now, the one taking charge of your career, on your own terms!