Most, if not all, professionals want to do well in their jobs. Working hard and putting in valuable hours are all crucial in thriving in any career. But now and then, it’s important to step back and think about the big picture. Professionals need to plan out their career trajectory and find ways to keep improving.
Here are some growth-oriented questions that will help you build a career plan.
How often am I stepping out of my comfort zone?
When work has been relatively easy-going for some time now, it can be difficult to stay motivated and continue excelling. Doing the bare minimum can be a comfortable position to be in. However, it won’t help in learning new skills which can take a career to the next level.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is understandably difficult to do.
One way to help you do so is setting a challenging goal to achieve every month. Find a goal that genuinely gets you excited. Create actionable steps and metrics that will help you track progress. The difficult part is maintaining consistency — setting and achieving a goal for one month, then next one, and the next one after that.
A coach or mentor — whether it’s a colleague, your supervisor or a close friend — will be invaluable in keeping you accountable to the goals you set for yourself. Then if all goes well, at the end of every month, you can highlight these achievements in a journal for future reference. These highlights will come in handy come evaluation time or job hunting.
What were the factors that led to subpar performance?
Things don’t always go well, and it’s normal to have bad days. However, failing to understand the factors behind those bad days would be a grave mistake. By understanding why certain actions did not lead to desired results, you can identify opportunities to improve.
The next time you encounter a difficult task or project where the feedback wasn’t what you expected, you could list down the different factors that contributed to the final result. These factors can range from personal lapses to communication difficulties with a client. It’s important to be honest with yourself and admit where you could have done better.
Having these specific points listed down will be essential when reflecting on your career path.
However, there’s a difference between dwelling on past mistakes and driving towards self-improvement. Don’t be overly critical of yourself. The goal is to constantly learn and improve, not to berate yourself just for the sake of it.
Am I making decisions that will positively impact the later stages of my life?
Reconciling today’s actions with a desired financial situation far off into the future is a good way to demystify long-term thinking. Reviewing career decisions and seeing if it matches your long-term vision of the desired future can help ensure you’re making the right moves that will pay-off eventually.
Whether you’re an employee for AT&T, Lockheed Martin or any other company, long-term investment options like 401(k) plans should factor into your career moves and decisions.
If you’re contemplating leaving one company for better pay, weigh the pros and cons of doing so. The salary may be more than enough, but the work experience could cause unnecessary stress that can affect other aspects of your life (e.g. family, passion projects). Of course, your values and your priorities will dictate which path or decision to take in any situation.