8 ideas for career planning with intention

It’s the start of a new year, which provides us with an opportunity to look back at our results and look forward and plan for a brighter future.

Most businesses start this process in the fall, working to put final touches on budgets and accountabilities, preparing for new goals in the new year. Companies might do year-end reviews, giving their employees another view of how well they did and what they can improve upon next year. This might be something to consider it is not already your practice.

I’m not a career counselor but many people come to me at the end of the year and want to talk about opportunities outside their company. Sometimes they want to talk about compensation, other times it’s about their boss or the changes the company is going through. Often it’s about not enjoying what they are doing and hoping there is something better for them.

Boomers like myself have never really considered being happy in their job as a reason to stay or look elsewhere. We have been more interested in compensation, benefits and security. We don’t like change and are willing to cope with things that we know are not good in exchange for compensation, benefits and security. A good friend of mine, who is a CEO said, “That is why they call it work and not fun.”

Beyond the boomers the next generations are not willing to compromise or acquiesce to poor company cultures, bosses who are not fair and reasonable, a lack of concern for a work-life balance. Companies, for the most part, are not loyal to employees and employees are more than willing to look elsewhere for new opportunities.

In my work as an executive search professional I don’t represent individuals. However, I believe life is short and the world is small so when the opportunity comes up to be of assistance to someone I usually will offer some help. Here are a few thoughts for you to consider.

  • Careers are just like being married. When people are unhappy in a marriage and have tried to make it work out but were unsuccessful, my advice is life is too short to be unhappy. It might be time to move on.
  • If you’re not sure what to do next, talk to a career counselor and spend some time doing research about what other people do in jobs you consider interesting.
  • Take a long look at yourself and make a list of your strengths. In their jobs, people gravitate to what they are good at and it’s usually what they enjoy the most. When you’re investigating a new position make sure you understand what strengths are needed and that they match with yours. On the other hand, make sure you can get around your weaknesses and be successful.
  • Compensation is important but you might want to re-evaluate how you spend money so that you can be in a job that pays less but where you really enjoy going to work every day.
  • In most decision-making situations you should start with the end in mind then decide how you are going to achieve what you want. This is going to require some hard work, self-evaluation, family considerations, financial obligations, education and retraining, and potentially relocation. Reach out to as many people as you can for help.
  • Many people create barriers in their mind that won’t allow them the chance to consider alternatives. Some of these issues will be difficult to get over but many are based on false assumptions and a lack of knowledge or simply a good plan. Talk to everyone involved in your life, you might be surprised how supportive they will be for you making a change.
  • The world is changing so quickly that many jobs are being eliminated while new ones are being created. The automobile industry makes changes every year when they shut down and prepare for new models. Whether you like it or not you are going to be forced to “retool” even if you stay in your current job. So why not be proactive and decide where you want to go and what you want to do.
  • In spite of my age and my generational attitudes and values, I think people can have fun at work and enjoy what they are doing every day. No matter what you do, chances are your job won’t be perfect. Create a list “must haves” when looking at the next opportunity, make sure the job includes those things that are most important to you, and even the less than perfect job will be good.

In 1985 I owned a large drug store that sold liquor, groceries, hardware and just about everything you would need on an everyday basis. We also had a restaurant so I was working days and nights with only a half day off every other Sunday. This went on for more than eight years.

The store was a family business in which I bought my father out at the age of 22. Bottom line is, I was very unhappy with my life and career. After much reflection I sold the store, left Chicago and moved to the Quad Cities. In 1989 I started a consulting firm (Management Resource Group) and we have now been in business for more than 30 years. Anything is possible if you want to make a change and have a plan to do it.