Mills: Make an assessment of where your career is at

“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.”

—Fitzhugh Dodson

While many people recommit to getting physically healthier after the holidays, it’s just as a good a time to start a career wellness program.  What shape is your career in these days?

Physical fitness programs work best with clearly defined goals and concrete milestones of achievement so that progress can be measured and celebrated.

Career-minded people use the same approach. It’s a great way to build professional strength and take charge of your own performance.

The first step is to take stock of where you are right now. Are you happy with where your career is today? Is this where you expected to be at this point in your life?

It’s a bit like stepping on the scales before embarking on a weight loss program (scary perhaps but a necessary reality check).

If you discover that you are pleased with how things are and feel satisfied with what you’ve accomplished in your career, that’s great. You’re on the right track, just keep that momentum going.

On the other hand, if you can clearly see that some changes are needed take some time to figure out what your next step should be.

Consider where you want to be a year from now. Or if you’re a long term thinker, consider three or five years in the future. Try to picture your work life as you want it to be.

Once you’ve created a clear vision, you need a strategy to get yourself there.

That plan needs to be supported with specific goals that you can measure and realistically achieve within a defined timeframe.

Just like a good physical fitness program that is customized to target areas for improvement, your career wellness plan needs to be designed to include the kinds of activities that will generate the results you want to see.

You also need to decide whether you will be working on your career goals with your current employer or looking for a different one that may be a better fit for you.

If you choose to stay with your current employer, then why not have a frank discussion with your boss about how you can grow with the organization?

Explore what kind of support you can get from them. Perhaps there is financial support for training, or different work opportunities that would help you to develop or hone new skills.

Or, if you feel that a change in employers is necessary to bring you closer to your career goals, you will need to adopt a job search mindset.

By that I mean researching your options and ensuring your qualifications are up to date and competitive.

By the way, it’s acceptable to do this while working for your current employer, just be discreet about it (i.e.: Don’t do it on company time) and don’t let your work performance slip, even if you’re heart’s not in it anymore.

Whatever path you choose, successfully building a feeling of wellness and personal pride in your work life is not a passive act.

Creating career satisfaction requires effort.  Just like getting and staying physically fit, it takes discipline, persistence and patience.

My recommendation is to embrace the New Year’s sense of renewal and rise to the challenge of living a healthier life going forward—at work and at play—by setting goals and taking action for positive change.

Laurie Mills is a certified executive coach and human resource professional.  Her company is Lighthouse Professional Development Consulting Services.



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