Saturday, August 25, 2012

Career planning

In the context of a family business, this is a moot point. You don't plan; the planning is done for you. All you do is go with the flow: As needs arise, you get moved up to more senior positions and take on more responsibilities. But it's not something you consciously give thought to. It just happens.

Now that you are out of the business you need to give your career some thought. An it's-just-gonna-happen attitude won't fly in the "real world". And you need to have a clear picture in your mind of where you want to be so that you can form a plan on how to get there.

The best way to do this is to work backwards. First, ask yourself where you want to be in the long run, what do you see yourself doing? Once you have that clearly visualized, map the steps you need to take in order to get there, working backwards. List the positions/jobs you need to fill, and the skills you need to develop, and presto! You have yourself a career plan! As with all plans, you should also build-in a few worst-case-scenarios and have fallbacks just in case. Then, you keep to it!

Being communicative and clear can go a long way. I recently sat down with my manager to discuss my career — an open, candid conversation. It was actually the first time I had voiced my career plans out loud to a person besides my wife! Just talking about them like that made them become real and tangible.

Lastly, you need to maintain a long-term-thinking attitude. Remember that there is a lesson to be learnt behind each and every experience. So even if your plans get "delayed", for whatever reason, stay focused on the long-term and learn from the short-term. Eventually you will realize that it all served the purpose of getting you to your goal more equipped and better prepared.

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