Were you one of the lucky ones that actually took time off this summer for a vacation? Typically, there is a lot of planning that took place before you took off to the wild blue yonder; choosing a destination, setting a budget, purchasing travel tickets, hotel rooms, and then packing the suitcase.
What if the plan to reach your career goals was as easy as planning a vacation?
Choose your destination
Most people don’t go on vacation without some planning – for instance, showing up at a hotel without reservations. If you don’t plan ahead, you may have to settle for the “Bates Motel.”
As with any decision-making process, a vision needs to be in place for the outcome or goal. Start with the end in mind as Brian Tracy would say. If you are a materials manager and your goal is to be the VP of Operations, what steps do you need to take to get there?
Once you have your goal, the “how” is next. How will you achieve that goal? Do you need to add more experience to your “suitcase” or professional development in certifications or higher educational degrees? Can you show that you are a positive team leader and mentor? What accomplishments do you need to achieve to be seen as a contender for a position with more responsibility?
Make a commitment
People who purchase non-refundable vacations tend to make every effort to go on that trip. Look at your career as non-negotiable – in other words, as the life and “bread” of your being since it finances the food on your table, a roof over your head, and clothes on your back. Treat it as that important.
Set up milestones along the way to help you achieve your goals. Small steps are fine, as they still lead to the eventual outcome, even if you veer off the path from time-to-time. So with a trip, you would tell friends and neighbors of your plans to visit a foreign country or take a cruise, do the same with your career. Share your goals and dreams – it will make it seem more real to you. You will find that most people are very supportive, but also be ready for negative feedback, even if well intended.
Set your budget
As with any vacation, you need to have a budget in mind. Will you be on the luxury tour of Europe or backpacking in Colorado? Career goals require the same consideration. Depending on your current situation and future goals, you may need to beef up savings for leaner times. You may need to revamp your career documents (resume, cover letter, professional bio, LinkedIn profile, Google + profile, etc.) and need a budget to cover the investment of having these documents created by a professional writer. Factor in unexpected costs along the way – just like a vacation – things come up.
Pack your “suit” case
Pack and prepare for everything you can think of. Gather resources and tools that you will need. Create a mastermind group of trusted friends and peers to function as an advisory board. Spruce up your network and work on developing relationships with people who can help you along the way. With any trip, there are usually one or two things that get left behind, so pack your flexibility for the challenges you may encounter along the way.
Every airplane flight starts with getting up to speed on the runway, taking off, reaching the desired space in the skies and then landing at the destination. And occasionally a plane is diverted to another airport, or a storm interferes with getting to the destination, but ultimately they do get there. An executive career path has very similar components.
This leg of your journey takes courage and determination. Each step you take towards your destination is moving you forward – even if you are in a holding pattern because your boss is stonewalling your promotion, or you are waiting to hear back from the recruiter about a potential job offer. You may encounter a lot of turbulence on this journey, but eventually you will land at your destination.
You have arrived at your destination
Are you a bit “jet lagged” from your journey? Just like most trips, you probably want to get familiar with your surroundings, the people, and the (company) culture. It may have been a long journey for you, but actually a new journey is just beginning.
At this time of year vacations are only a memory, schools are back in session, and the work calendar gets back into full swing. And you are on a lifelong journey to get to the career of your dreams.