Career Planning with Purpose

Vocation

We need to manage our career plans strategically and tactically…guided by our purpose.  If you don’t your purpose yet, then start with “know yourself deeply”.  Salary and potential earnings are important, but these must be balanced with capability, passion, meaning and enjoyment.  All are possible with the courage to make personal change.  Only you know the right balance.

The strategic part is planning for (or allowing) new roles, assignments, projects or tasks.  It is choosing the big things such as career objective, career field, company and work location.  It is the long-term accumulation of capabilities that add personal value, energy and joy, sometimes with unexpected results.

The strategic part is something you think about deliberately once or twice per year.  You ask questions such as:  Am I working for the right company?  Do my company’s values match my own?  Do I use my talents to add value and meaning to people’s lives?  Am I working to my potential?  Know the “why” behind each of your answers.

The tactical part is job shaping.  This simply means that we make routine choices to optimize our tasks and responsibilities within our assigned job.  You change tasks or relationships or simply make a context change.  For example, a cashier at the grocery store could reframe his or her work from “checking out” to “putting a smile on everyone’s face”.

A written career plan is an essential part of a life plan.  It is a skill best done with a career mentor.

What Makes You Angry or Cry?

Cry

Not a day goes by when you don’t read or see something on the news that is terrible or hateful.  The opioid crisis, school shootings, the civil war in Syria, human trafficking and dysfunctional government are just a few things.  The media controls the message for the day or week but some of these problems seem perpetual.  The issues do not go away just because it didn’t make it to today’s headlines.

It’s easy to become numb to the daily bad news.  You can turn off the TV, you can choose to be better informed or you can choose to “do something”.  Adding your own voice to the millions of other loud voices adds little value.  You can choose to be a complainer or “microphone” or you can choose action.

What makes you angry or cry?  What are the topics that cause you to pause?  This is the beginning of knowing what you are passionate about.  Knowing this is our insight into making a difference.  Pick one and choose to make a difference.

Solutions don’t have to be national in nature.  Acting locally allows you to experience innovation and action first-hand.  For example, what is being done in your local high school to keep it safe?

The choices for action are many.  You become more informed.  You seek an existing organization that is already focused on your passion and contribute your time, skill and money.  You can even start you own grass-roots movement.  Choose to do something.

Waiting for Permission

Permission

Sometimes we wait for someone to give us permission and other times we take the initiative.  Waiting for permission is a way of limiting ourselves, not living to our potential.

There are times to wait.  We wait at a red stoplight even in the middle of the night when we don’t see any traffic.  We might raise our hand before speaking in a group.  We wait for our manager or customer to activate a project start.  There are times not to wait.  For example, seeking peer approval of a group of friends or work colleagues before we start on a goal of personal importance or acting on matters of values and principles.

Take the initiative.  Jump in because we think we have the plan or “the answer” or we have confidence in a special skill.  Permission implies we are waiting for “authority”.  Leadership requires some risk taking.  We can lead even if we are not the “top person” by rank.  Mastery, experience and wisdom have value.

Some would say it is better to choose to act then ask for forgiveness later.  It depends on the situation.  Of course, judgement is required.  Some actions don’t have easy responses and so we plan, think and even pray.  The key point is just being aware of our choices.  We must live intentionally and purposefully.

Are you leading or following?  Are you timid or do you have courage?  What are the items on your Vision or Goals that require initiative?

We Live in Our Own Small World

Small World

We live in our own small world(s).  We see the same family, friends and co-workers on a regular basis.  We watch the same news channels and TV shows most days.  We travel on the same streets in a small part of the area we live in.  We even think the same thoughts from day-to-day.  I feel I live in two worlds…my family and home life and my life as a volunteer.

We see many new people in a given day, from the cashier at the grocery store to a neighbor who is walking their dog – but we don’t get to know them.  Our “world” forms our perspective, values, life philosophy and opportunities.  Are you on auto-pilot or is this done consciously?

My corporate life enabled me to see new parts of the world; I especially liked Asia.  My retired life as a volunteer takes me into the world of poverty, recovery and hurt.  I have learned that we are more alike than different.  We have the same desires and aspirations.

Perspective change helps us grow.  How do you do that?  You change your “world” intentionally.  You take time to talk to someone and ask a deeper question…then listen.  You read on a divergent topic or change your routine to allow unexpected things to happen.  You allow random opportunities to feel like adventure rather than a distraction.  You seek to understand the worlds of another.

Self-Imposed Deadlines

Deadlines

Do you work better with self-imposed (internal) deadlines or those that come externally?  Let’s start with some examples:

  • You want to update your resume so that you can apply for a new job (this is internal because no one else is telling you to do it and you have a choice).
  • A customer or your manager requires you to complete a project by a certain date (this is external, you don’t have a choice).
  • You are planning a big birthday party for someone in your family (probably a blend of internal and external).

External implies little or no control of the situation; you must do it.  Externally imposed deadlines usually get done because there is a consequence.  The consequence could be positive (an incentive exists) or negative (fear of losing a job or peer pressure).

Deadlines are the pretty much the same as goals.  A life skill in goal accomplishment is personal accountability including motivation, planning and discipline (and avoiding procrastination).  The insight is to use these same skills for self-imposed goals too.

If the goal is long-term, e.g. successfully transition to a new job by January 2019 then Vision is needed too.  Don’t forget to make goals and deadlines SMART:  specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timed.

An interesting discovery when I looked at the definition of deadline when I found this: “a line drawn around a prison beyond which prisoners were liable to be shot”.  Now that is a consequence.

Uniqueness and Conformity

Uniqueness

We each have a uniqueness and specialness to our lives.  I am convinced that we are born with some (all?) of it and that it is even God-given.  Knowing it is part of the purpose journey because there is power and energy from seeing life-long patterns.  Specialness includes ways of thinking, talents, nationality and more.  The “world” (parents, school, work, society) causes us to lose it because it doesn’t want us to be too “different”.  The world doesn’t seem to like people who live outside of a framework…and so we conform (or get bullied).  Specialness must be (re)discovered.

When we are very young there are less boundaries on behavior.  But then we go to school and immediately we “must be quiet in class” or study specific topics in certain ways.  Socialization starts with our parents but becomes more obvious in a big school system or at work.  We conform and lose a little bit of ourselves, sometimes reluctantly and sometime unknowingly.  As we progress through life we assume other life roles.  Our company culture, society’s expectations for men and women and our religion are all working on us.  What is the cost to our soul?

I presume that socialization is unstoppable and even necessary.  When we are young we are not equipped to challenge these forces.  As adults we can rediscover our uniqueness.  Do you know and embrace your specialness?  Can you think of the earliest time in your life when it first became evident?

Are You on Auto-Pilot?

Autopilot

The patterns of our life seem to get fixed and remain that way.  We are on auto-pilot when we stay in the same job, eat at the same restaurants, sit in the same chair, watch the same TV shows.  It’s comfortable.  Rhythm and routine are important but it’s a fine line between comfort and no growth.  The problem starts because we live unconsciously, on auto-pilot.

Do you know what you are thinking about in this very moment?  Consciousness is stepping back from our mindless thoughts and operating at a higher level…simply being aware of our thoughts and our current circumstances.  It is being mindful and fully present to the moment with all of our senses.

Are your thoughts in the past or the future?  Are you intentionally single-tasking or multi-tasking?  Did you somehow drive home from work and not recall the trip?  These are the times our thoughts are less than focused, maybe unconscious to us in the moment.  These circumstances happen but it doesn’t have to be that way, at least not all the time.

We must “choose to choose” rather than just be carried through the current of life.  What are some new decisions or behaviors you might choose?  Brainstorm first and allow yourself a moment to chart a new course.  Pick one thing that takes you off auto-pilot.  Consider slowing down or journaling or reading.  Don’t keep doing the same things and expecting a different result.