Most of us are pretty particular about managing our finances. One bad investment and we are on our toes to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Losing tens of thousands of dollars in the stock market stands out like a sore thumb in our financial portfolio. Why then do we let a not-so-perfect career take a nose- dive over months and sometimes years before we do something about it?
Sadly many people do just that. They wait until they are in a middle of a career crisis – burned out, miserable and feeling stuck before they start paying attention to their biggest investment of all – their careers.
Managing your career is an ongoing process and needs to be nurtured in order to thrive. Just like personal relationships, left unattended, both will become stagnant and in need of a major overhaul.
Here are some things you can do to make sure your career stays on track.
1. Do a quarterly check in. Just as you monitor your quarterly 401(k) statements for investment performance, you should be doing the same for your career. Ask yourself the following questions. Do you look forward to going to work each day or do you bury your head under the covers wishing it were Saturday? Have you stretched yourself to learn anything new over the past 3 months, or could you do your job with your eyes closed?
2. Stay focused on your strengths. Does your job require you to apply your strengths every day? If not, it’s time to think about changing jobs, maybe careers. If one of your strengths is to help people yet you spend your entire workday in front of a computer with no human interaction, it’s time to reassess your work priorities. It is a known fact that people who operate out of their strengths daily enjoy the highest levels of job satisfaction.
3. Beware of your comfort zone. Remember that stock you wanted to purchase but kept putting off? Suddenly it skyrocketed before your very eyes and was no longer financially feasible. Staying in your comfort zone for too long will prevent you from taking advantage of career opportunities too. Taking risks periodically is a healthy way to grow and stretch. Volunteer for a project at work that will require you to tap new skills.
4. Find a mentor. Think of a mentor as a financial advisor for your career. This person can be your advocate as well as the one to give you a good nudge when you need it. Find someone in your field who has more experience or a broader skill set. Look for someone who can share ideas and strategies with you to keep you on top of your game.
5. Cultivate relationships. Invest time to network with associates who you can assist as well as benefit from knowing. Remember, networking is all about sharing ideas and being a mutual resource for one another.
6. Catalog accomplishments regularly. Don’t rack your brain at review time. Document your accomplishments as they occur in a Word file. When review time roles around you will be prepared to discuss your performance. This also saves a ton of time when updating your resume!
7. Keep resume and LinkedIn current. Follow step 6 above and update your resume and LinkedIn profile for those unexpected career opportunities, which may come along at any time.
8. Don’t put up with an abusive boss. People don’t leave jobs they leave bosses. If you and your boss don’t see eye to eye and you suffer the brunt of this person’s abusive personality, formulate an exit strategy and move on. You don’t need the stress. And more importantly, putting up with an abusive boss will take a toll on your health over time. It’s simply not worth it.
9. Conduct an annual career assessment. Just as you meet with your financial advisor annually to review your portfolio, you need to conduct an annual assessment of your career. Take this opportunity to reflect on your work over the past 12 months. Did you spend the majority of time doing fulfilling work? If not, what needs to change?
Be patient with the process. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Keep your long-range goa
ls in focus and be aware of when you are going off track. Managing your career is a process just like managing your personal finances. They are both journeys to learn from and enjoy. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook