The Right Way to Plan Your Career: A Roadmap
“What’s the right way to explore my career options?”
I hear this from high-achievers all the time.
As a go-getter, you’re probably used to options just presenting themselves. You work hard, someone notices, and an opportunity or promotion comes your way.
But your current options are not giving you the day-to-day fulfillment you crave. You’re ready to play a more active role in determining your career trajectory, but fatigue, uncertainty, and overwhelm are stopping you in your tracks.
Whether your career vision is murky, or you have a clear picture and just want to know the concrete steps to get there, you need a roadmap.
Of course, there’s not one “right” way to plan your career. And I know better than to get in the way of your ambition and limit your choices!
You want to explore all the options and open your eyes to possibilities you didn’t even know were there.
Here are 6 Ways to Explore Career Options Without Boxing Yourself In:
1. Put Your Vision On Paper
What do you really want in your career and life? Put it down on paper.
So many of my clients take huge leaps forward once they do this. There’s something magical about the clarity and commitment this activity brings.
Yet, it’s normal to feel resistance. Maybe your career goals feel like a fairytale, or you struggle to conjure anything at all.
Don’t stop yourself before you’ve even begun. Right now, you’re just getting honest with yourself about what you want. There’s plenty of time to figure out how to make it happen.
Having a crystal clear picture of what you want is the most critical step in evaluating your career options. If you don't know what you're looking for, how will you know when you've found it?
2. Think Big and Stay Broad
A common pitfall when thinking through options is to get too narrow too quickly.
People often look at existing job titles or roles, then get mired in the specifics.
Rather than trying to squeeze yourself into a role that already exists, try defining requirements for yourself first. Then look for options that align to your definition.
Start with these questions:
What things must you do most days to be happy?
What are the values and ideas that guide you?
What are you motivated to do more than anything?
What do you love most about your current and past roles?
What’s really important for you to make space for in your life?
This is also a great way to build balance and sustainability into your career from the start: design your life first, then consider career options that are conducive.
3. You Can Always Say No
Ugh, I have ignored this tip. SO. MANY. TIMES.
Sometimes when you're eager to make a change and a great-on-paper opportunity appears, you feel compelled to take it—even when it doesn’t feel quite right.
It’s at this moment when you have to trust your gut. If the opportunity doesn’t feel right, get curious, tweak your vision, and prepare for the next opportunity.
There’s real power in identifying the deal-breakers in those really-great-but-not-quite-right opportunities. Those elements have the potential to deplete you. And recognizing what you want instead will lead you to the right opportunity that keeps you engaged and happy for the long-term.
4. Talk About It
Talking about your options generates enthusiasm, accountability, and new ideas.
Plus, talking to people will keep you top of mind when they come across opportunities that seem like a good fit for you.
If you haven’t done so already, read more about how your Success Team works like passive income for your career by downloading my free guide.
5. Just Do Something
It’s critical to take action—big or small. Set aside time each week to learn or do something related to your career goals. Move forward. Inhabit that world. Thinking alone will not get you there.
6. Stay Open to the Unexpected Opportunities
Especially if you’re ambitious, it can be frustrating when the expected results don't come quickly. You feel like you’re slacking. You wonder what others think.
Take it as a sign that there’s a bigger lesson to be learned here. Maybe it’s time to focus on your health or relationships. Maybe there’s a different, better outcome that hasn’t yet presented itself.
Focus on the journey, and keep taking steps.
At best, the next step could break open your career. At worst, it will provide a lesson, skill, or experience you can apply anywhere. Each step is intrinsically valuable and prepares you for the right opportunity.
You're The Boss
When thinking through career options, it’s important to remember that you're in charge. You have the power to create any opportunity. Start by defining what you want, take steps forward, and stay open to the possibilities.
I hope this post has sparked some ideas you can apply to your own career journey. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ideas in this article, plus any of your own.
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