By Brian Mitchell, Managing Partner & CEO
Hopefully, you’re going to wake up one day and be 60, will then be the time to evaluate your career and make a bold move? Doubtful. When is the “right time”? When is NOW?
We are nearing the end of 1Q 2018, the time when 2017 bonuses have been paid, company reorgs tend to happen if they’re going to, and it’s generally the most likely time for flux to take place at a company. In correlation, it’s potentially the smartest time to make a move to something bigger, better, bolder. Somewhere between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is when a lot of people deliberate on “what’s next?”, but the end of 1Q is when the move is most frequently actualized. Of course, these described timings are generalizations and everyone’s circumstances are independently unique, but the question remains: is this the right inflection point for you to consider a career move? Here are three questions worth asking:
Where am I going?
If your current and/or long-term priorities do not align with your current career path, then you merely have a job. Rarely do “jobs” lead to the end in mind – one must focus on career management and the logic behind the transitions, not just the actual moves. Start with the end in mind and work backwards at the steps needed toward your desired outcome. Whether the outcome is becoming CEO of a startup, or CFO of a publicly traded healthcare company, or retired from business with X amount in the bank so you can be a teacher, then that’s all great! To each her own, but how are you going to arrive at your destination? Is your current vocational pursuit a job or is it a true career vehicle towards your objective? Nobody bats 1,000. Everyone makes career decisions that don’t work out exactly as planned. Some people get lucky, but most of the truly successful people have had to experience setbacks, evaluate the path, and re-navigate. Don’t give up too quickly, you might be on the best path already! I’m not suggesting rash moves, quite the contrary, but it requires examination and if you’re not on the right path, then it’s up to you to find it. Ghandi said “our future will depend upon what we do in the present” and although not specifically intended to be, it couldn’t be sounder career advice.
What am I willing to commit?
With the exception of yourself (and maybe your mom), most people don’t truly care if you achieve what you set out to achieve. Nobody cares. Embracing the reality that we must individually care, it’s incumbent upon each of us to understand what we are willing to do to achieve our individually desired outcomes. Are you willing to go back to school to earn an advanced degree? Are you willing, truly willing, to forgo social events to work 80+ hour weeks and through weekends as long as it takes to get your business/career where it needs to be? Are you not willing to forgo missing coaching your kid’s baseball team? Are you willing to travel 80% a year or uproot your family to relocate? Are you willing to take a step back by leading finance for a startup on the calculated bet it could scale and be the next Facebook? You must define where you’re going and what you’re willing to commit or concede before you’ll ever get there.
How will I make it happen?
Napoleon Hill said “a burning desire is the starting point of all achievement” and he was right. We must possess an unwavering focus on our ultimate outcome and the power of attitude and positive thinking are undeniable forces. However, passion without planning doesn’t add up. Your career and intertwined personal/professional objectives are YOUR ONLY BUSINESS, the most important business you’ll ever run. It deserves a plan. It needs to be documented. It needs SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. It needs metrics and ranges and milestones. Who/what else do you need from others? Who must help and who can help? Do your homework. Talk to the professional influences who can really add value – these are people already very successful, not necessarily the people who you know the best. What are the long-term opportunities associated with your current actions? Your anticipated subsequent actions? What struggles can you predict? How will they be overcome? Make sure the answers to your questions align with your core values or your plan will be ineffective no matter how much effort you apply. Once you’ve outlined a working plan, you need to build and adjust over months, years, and decades.
Sounds like a lot of effort, right? Yes, it is and it’s worth it.