Summer is the Perfect Time to Plan Your Next Career Move
Updated: Aug 25, 2019
As the end of summer approaches (where did the time go??), it’s the perfect time to relax and reflect, to take a breather from work in order to enjoy family, friends, travel, etc. But I would suggest that summer is also the PERFECT time to plot your next career move. Have you had your eye on a promotion? Have you been thinking it’s time for a second act? Or are you dreading heading back into the office after vacation?
If dread is what you’re feeling, chances are it’s time for a change. Let’s face it, you’re not at your best – personally or professionally – if you don’t want to be doing what you’re doing. I’m not talking about disliking a certain aspect of your job or being unhappy or disappointed for a week or even a month. I’m talking about fundamentally feeling you aren’t learning and growing; you aren’t able to play to your strengths; you aren’t able to make a difference; or you aren’t being valued—day in and day out. If this is where you are, then don’t let this Labor Day weekend (if you live in the USA) pass you by without taking the time to reflect and regroup.
Below are the key questions I like to ask myself as I contemplate a career move – whether it’s a move that’s up, over or out. Maybe they can help you as well.
What is keeping you where you are? For many people, it may be inertia or fear of change or the golden handcuffs of a great benefits package. Whatever the barriers, do the work to be sure you’re being honest about what they are. And then ask yourself; are they real or perceived barriers, e.g., are they objectively there or do you just think they are there? And if they are objectively present, is there anything you can do to change them or mitigate them by changing roles or even organizations?
What are the three most important things you need/want in your work during the next three years? Once you understand why you’ve been “stuck”, it’s time to consider what your options are for making a move. In order to determine what makes the most sense as a next step, it’s important to prioritize. Any opportunity can provide some of what you want, but it’s unlikely that you’ll get everything you desire. So, you need to decide what matters most – and what you’re willing to give up in order to get it. It doesn’t have to be a permanent prioritization. Careers are a journey – a long journey. So, your priorities today may not be your priorities in 3 or 5 years. That’s fine. Just get clear about what you most need/want now – be that money, recognition, advancement, flexibility, meaning or impact. There are no right or wrong answers here. It’s all about what’s right for you.
What are your non-negotiables? While it’s great to picture yourself landing that dream job, I’m also a big fan of pragmatism. it’s important to be honest. All of us have constraints – financial, geographic, physical, emotional, etc. Therefore, before you make a change, you need to do an inventory regarding what your non-negotiables are because it can be soul-crushing to chase and land that dream job only to then realize that you can’t possibly travel 50 percent of the time while trying to care for an aging parent or sick child. So, get real and get specific about what you can and can’t do. Don’t talk yourself out of something because you’re scared. But also, don’t spend a lot of time and effort chasing something that you ultimately couldn’t possibly say yes to either.
What’s the best that could happen? Once you understand your desires and limitations, allow yourself to think boldly within that framework. What could you make happen? How great would that be? Is there a job you could do that would let you wake up each day feeling motivated to go to work? Can you imagine being excited about the difference you are making, the things you are learning, the people you are working with? This is my favorite part of reflection time. Sometimes I even make a vision board of the job and life I want, using magazine cut-outs to picture the future I’m working towards. It keeps me focused and motivated during times of self-doubt or rejection, both of which there will likely be as you pursue a new path.
What’s the worst that could happen? This is the last question to ask yourself before each and every career transition. If you have clearly thought through the worst possible outcome – you fail, you get fired, you hate it, etc., and you decide you can live with that worst-case scenario, then you know you’ll be ready to take the leap. It may still be scary, hard or fraught with issues, but if you know you can survive the worst, then you will be confident enough to move forward.
These are the top 5 questions I revisit nearly every year, just to help reconfirm that what I’m doing is still the right thing for me. Why should you do it too? Because you are the CEO of your own career. If you aren’t doing this type of strategic thinking and planning for yourself, who will? So, don’t let summer end without investing some time thinking about where you are going in your career. If you feel it’s time for a change, start by asking yourself the questions above. If you need help, let me know. A good sounding board is sometimes all you need to help you make that leap and get you back on track toward having the career and life of your dreams!
More About Perry Yeatman: Yeatman is the CEO of Your Career • Your Terms® a company dedicated to helping women build the careers and lives of their dreams - from launching on the right trajectory; to surviving the mid-career marathon; to thriving within the executive ranks. Perry’s unique approach combines a deep understanding and passion for career advancement with decades of real world experience as a global business executive, C-suite consultant and award-winning author. This enables her to achieve transformational results for her clients. To learn more about what she can do for you, go to https://www.yourcareeryourterms.com/contact or contact Perry at Perry@yourcareeryourterms.com.