Robert Davis

OPINION

4 critical questions to guide your career

You're responsible for your professional development

Today, many of us find ourselves working longer than we envisioned when we began our careers.  Few people retire today by age 65 who are financially secure. Things did not turn out career-wise as many of us planned.When you consider that most young people today will work for 50 years or more, it raises fundamental career-related questions that few people are prepared to answer.

When someone asks you what you do in terms of work, how do you answer? Is your answer in terms of your job, company, title, function, values or a long-term career objective?

People must take the long-term view of their career. After three, four or five years in a job, have you taken a hard look at where you are and are headed career-wise? Maybe it is time for a change; maybe not.

Career planning and development is a 50/50 proposition between you and your employer. But career management is 100 percent your responsibility.

In 2006, I was at a cookout sitting across a picnic table from an older gentleman. After introductions, the person mentioned that he had been retired for two years after spending many years in the same organization.

Then he said, “After working 33 years, I realized that my work did not matter”. Can you imagine that?

What will you say after working for 33 years? How will you describe your career victories? How should you consider a long-term view of your career? Do you have a balance between work and your life values?

While many of us of spend a significant percentage of our time at work, it is not the center of the universe for many people.

What are your personal development and education goals?

Your undergraduate degree is not always relevant years later, as you know. If you are working for an employer that will not pay a significant portion of your formal education, college costs are a significant financial commitment and not to be assumed lightly.

Martin Ford paints a haunting picture, Lights in the Tunnel (2011), that many white-collar workers are in for an unpleasant surprise in the years ahead as they are replaced at work by numerous software applications, driven by artificial intelligence technology.

What is your Plan B?

I suggest you consider the CLIM model as you develop your plan:

Contribution

How does your work allow you to add real value?

Learning

What are you learning each week that is meaningful in your job?

Intrinsic value

How does your work conform to your deeper values?

Mentoring

How are you sharing your knowledge and expertise with co-workers especially younger ones?

The answers to these questions will begin to give you insight into whether you may need a career change, a new plan.

Is it time to re-invent yourself?

Successful people are passionate about their work; are you passionate about yours?

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