Bill Scheessele

COMMENTARY

3 keys to planning professional growth

Today's environment makes personal goals even more critical

Time and again, we’ve heard, “If you don’t have a plan, you’re part of someone else’s plan.” This could not be any more critical a statement than now during the “new normal times” we are experiencing in the government contracting.

Many of us are involved in the annual company planning season with the advent of either the new fiscal year, or the fast approaching end of the calendar year.


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While business and business development planning are very significant projects, the changed landscape in the industry makes it even more imperative that we invest time to do personal and professional planning for ourselves. Although we constantly hear that individuals who invest the time to write out their personal and professional goals and plans achieve more of what they desire in their career and life than those who don’t, many of us take a fatalistic attitude toward this exercise and don’t do it for ourselves. We’d rather leave these decisions to fate or the whims of others who may not have our best interest at heart.

To break this cycle, there are a number of reasons to do something different for 2012 and consider writing personal and professional goals. If your company is like the vast majority in government contracting, it’s either starting, in the middle of, or has just completed a restructuring.

In light of that, consider these potential scenarios:

  • If you still have a position in this environment, consider yourself fortunate. But don’t become too complacent. With mergers and acquisitions heating up, your situation could change very quickly. With the advent of a merger, and subsequent leaning down of duplicate positions, your job could be next on the chopping block. Take the time to take a hard look at where you are currently and do some planning, if only as a contingency exercise. In this uncertain environment, your job could be eliminated, derailing your career aspirations tomorrow, and you’d be the last person to know about it.
  • If you are like a number of individuals who’ve recently been “leaned” out of an organization, many for the first time in their careers, there is no better time to take stock of where you currently are personally and professionally. Take control and make some decisions about your career and life moving forward. Do you believe that now is the time to make changes in your industry focus, work location, or even profession? Is now the time to launch a business of your own, or in partnership with another colleague or family member? With goals and plans, you are in better control of your own destiny.
  • If, for whatever reason, you now find yourself in a new position with a new organization or moved to a different area of responsibility with your current employer, consider yourself lucky. However, don’t take your good fortune too lightly. Invest the time now to plan for your future in this new position or company and focus on how both your personal and professional goals will be attained by virtue of your good fortune. This goal setting activity may be even more critical to your success than becoming acquainted with your new environment. It will give you a game plan for your new opportunity.

Many of us have been exposed to the goal setting and planning process, so you probably already know the SMARTS drill. It’s a good process that has been proven successful for many individuals. If you’ve only used it in a business environment, the challenge is to employ it now in your own best interest.

Start with the big picture visualization and work backwards, breaking achievement objectives down into smaller, attainable goals with their related tasks. By taking action, completing and crossing these tasks off your list, you gain control of your future and grow in self-confidence. For life balance, choose areas from many personal categories in addition to your professional goals. Make certain these are the goals you desire to achieve and not other people’s expectations for you.

Consider the consequences of not having goals and plans for yourself and your career, particularly in this uncertain environment.

Do it for you.

Reader Comments

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 Christopher Lewis Williamsburg, VA - USA

Mr. Sheessele, thank you for the excellent commentary. Your thoughts complement an internal presentation I gave today on "A Sense of Urgency", by Dr. J. Kotter. Also, as a former nine-year public high school teacher, I used SMART goals every year with my students. SMART goals raised their sense of my expectations, and increased their achievement rates. Thank you for the excellent materials which you so graciously have shared with others. Your knowledge is invaluable, sir. -Chris Lewis

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