Patrick Ow shares the many benefits of developing and implementing a career growth strategy now.
Benefits of a Strong Career Growth Strategy
The strategy sets a general direction of where you want to go in life.
The strategy is your roadmap. It articulates your career goals and intentionally builds a successful but fulfilling life.
The roadmap helps you to become financially secure and to do the things that you want to do in life. It is your foundation upon which you can fulfill your vision and purpose in life.
You can become more secure in yourself. Your identity is made known through the strategy.
If you do not know your identity and purpose in life, then it is time to find that out. There are tools and coaches to help you. Reach out to me and let us have a chat.
Time is a precious commodity that you cannot afford to lose or squander. It is something that can never be replaced. Once spent, it can never be recovered. So, don’t squander your time. Focus its use on productive or meaningful things.
The strategy helps you tell a compelling human story about yourself and what you have done.
We spend roughly one-third of our lives working, another one-third sleeping, and the rest doing other things.
Hence, it is common for people to ask: “What do you do?”
This is a modern-day question. It’s our preoccupation with work, and naturally so. Humans have a habit of tying our identity to our careers rather than to a broader – and often more interesting – sense of self. But it is a starting point.
The reality is that our work is how we socially set ourselves. Therefore, we need to intentionally curate our life story. Our career growth strategy gives us that practical outline for us to intentionally write out our life story.
The strategy helps you to intentionally acquire the right skills, experiences, and qualifications for professional growth.
Just like a builder building a house brick-by-brick according to a house plan, you must intentionally acquire the right skills, experiences, and qualifications to build your career, job-by-job.
Let us say that you like helping people solve their problems and achieve their business goals. The profession that does this includes an accountant. To be an accountant, you need to intentionally:
- Get a business or accounting degree.
- Get qualified and be part of a professional body.
- Acquire key skills like analytical skills, communication skills, math skills, and organizational skills.
- Work with a diverse set of clients to gain experiences across all aspects of the business world.
These are considered leading indicators of success, especially if you want to be an accountant.
Your career growth strategy leads you through the right path. This may include doing stepping stone jobs that will lead you towards your ultimate career goal.
The strategy helps you to identify and close potential gaps in your skills, experiences, and qualifications
Knowing where you want to go, you can identify potential gaps in your skills, experiences, and qualifications. Your strategy helps you with the all-important gap analysis.
For me, I wanted to have operational experience when I was working as a consultant. Having theoretical knowledge without hands-on operational knowledge would not add much value to my future work. I intentionally sought out an employer-mentor who taught me everything I needed to know about managing and running budget hotels. The experience was invaluable. I acquired experience in human resource management, engineering, strategic planning, revenue maximization, customer service, etc. Being an expert in HR, I even taught budding HR practitioners in their craft!
You may need to attend courses or enroll in a university to enhance your knowledge in particular areas. This is where you need to invest in yourself financially.
The strategy helps you answer behavioral interview questions and secure that future job.
The richness and depth of skills and experiences can only be acquired when there is a career growth strategy that is executed well.
Your strategy can help you answer behavioral questions like: “Tell me about your greatest accomplishment on the job,” or “Tell me about the difficult situation you encountered at work and how you overcome it.”
Until you have experienced something, it will be hard to convey with confidence, answers to behavioral-type questions that are commonly asked during job interviews.
Therefore, reverse engineer the answers to these behavioral questions. If you are struggling with answering these questions now, then it is time to intentionally seek out experiences and accomplishments that will enable you to answer these questions effectively in the future. This will put you in the driver’s seat when applying for future jobs.
What career goals do you want to achieve?
Life balance is one of the greatest outcomes people should aspire to achieve in life. At the same time, this can be very tough to reach.
There are seven life areas that we need to balance and spread our actions:
- Social and family relationships.
- Career and educational aspirations.
- Money and personal finances.
- Physical health, recreation, and leisure.
- Life’s routine responsibilities.
- Giving back to society and contribution.
- Mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Here are some questions that you need to consider when developing your career goals:
- What do I want to achieve in my career or business?
- How do I achieve what I want to achieve in my career or business?
- What are the measures of my success?
- What is going to stop me from achieving my measures of success?
- What must I do now to achieve my career goals?
- What studies must I undertake now?
- What experiences must be planned now to achieve my career goals?
- What sacrifices must I make to achieve my career goals?
Sometimes it is easier to start with what you don’t like with your current job and general direction in life. Understanding what you don’t like will lead you to identify the things that you would want to do.
Self-evaluation Career Questions
Evaluate from 1–10, your current situation and where you would like to be in one, two, and five years from now.
- How important are career achievements for you?
- How satisfying are your career accomplishments to date?
- How fulfilled are you in your current work environment?
- How much do you look forward to going to work each day? (Or doing your work remotely.)
- Does your career stimulate and develop you as a person?
- Do you have a healthy and rewarding work-life balance?
- Is your career moving you forward in advancement and reward?
- Is your career moving you forward in fulfilling your vision and purpose?
- How important are strong working relationships for you?
- How satisfied are you with your current working relationships?
- Is your working environment positive and supportive?
- Are you empowered to do your work?
- Do you find contentment and fulfillment in your current career?
- How urgently would you like a career change?
- If you died, are you happy with the legacy you will leave behind?
What’s your vision for your career?
When you begin any road journey, you will subconsciously have inner conversations around these three questions:
- Why am I going to a particular destination?
- How will I get there?
- What will it be like when I arrive? (Or: Who will I see when I arrive?)
Without realizing it, you are working within a purpose-driven framework. This framework can also be applied in your career.
My purpose-driven framework:
- Why do I exist? (My purpose is to make a positive difference in people’s lives.)
- What will I do? (My mission is to encourage, challenge, and guide people towards achieving their vision and goals.)
- Where am I going? (My vision is to see people living purposefully according to who they are.)
Write a vision statement that relates to your career.
Would you like to make changes in the following:
- What is your greatest life vision for your career right now?
- What are the long-term career goals that will lead you to fulfill your greatest life vision? What needs to be done and by whom? When do these long-term goals need to be completed by?
- What are your medium-term milestone goals? What needs to be done and by whom? When do these medium-term milestone goals need to be completed by?
- What are your short-term mini-goals? What activities and tasks are needed to be done, by whom, and by when?
Ruthlessly prioritizing your activities will lead you towards achieving your greatest life vision and long-term career goals. Eliminate those activities that are not important or not urgent.
Four Common Types of Career Goals
Your greatest life vision can be broken down into long-term career goals, medium-term milestone goals, and short-term mini-goals.
Four common types of career goals you can set:
- Goals focused on productivity – Productivity refers to the results you can produce for your employer within a given time frame.
- Goals focused on efficiency – Similar to productivity, these goals focus on efficiency. They refer to your ability to achieve results. It also focuses on the speed, accuracy, and consistency by which you deliver those results.
- Goals focused on education and training – Continuing your professional education will help to be at the forefront of developments within your chosen career. Seeking out opportunities to develop or improve your skills and knowledge can help put you ahead of the competition. It ensures that you remain current and relevant within your field and profession.
- Goals focused on personal development – Just as important as education, continuously improving yourself can only help you in the long run. It includes improving personal skills like communication, networking, teamwork, and leadership. These are evergreen skills that you will require to navigate life.
Career goals are commonly found in these areas:
- Improving your networking skills and abilities.
- Switching careers or starting new careers.
- Starting your own business or side gig.
- Getting a promotion.
- Becoming an expert in your field or profession.
- Reaching a leadership or managerial position.
- Earning a degree, certificate, or professional qualification.
- Closing more sales.
- Landing a huge account.
- Learning a new skill.
- Winning an award in your field or industry.
- Publishing a research paper.
- Becoming a mentor.
- Improving the bottom line.
- Becoming more proactive.
- Growing the size of your customer base.
- Intern with an organization to gain experience.
- Improving your productivity numbers.
- Increasing your performance metrics.
- Creating a personal or professional website.
- Improving your communication skills.
- Improving your leadership skills.
- Feeling happier at work.
- Building your personal brand.
- Improving your professional presence.
Do you have SMARTER career goals?
For each career goal, ask the following questions to determine whether they are SMARTER career goals:
- Specific – Are you specific with your goals?
- Measurable – How will you know when you have reached your goals? How will you know that you are making progress towards achieving them?
- Action-focused – Do you have a good idea about what’s required to achieve these goals?
- Relevant – Why are these goals important to you? How do they fit in with your greatest life vision or long-term goals?
- Time-specific – When do you want to have achieved these goals?
- Exciting (and enjoyable) – Why are these goals exciting to you? Why will you enjoy working toward them?
- Revisable – How will you monitor, revise, and review the progress you are making?
Examples of SMARTER career goals:
- Start a private medical practice in eight years by completing medical school in six years and apprenticing at a family medical practice for two years that is within 10 km of where I currently live.
- Publish 15 management books that are targetted at the female employee market in five years by spending 10 hours a week writing 10,000 words. Sell 300,000 copies of these books and earn $2.1 million in ten years.
- Start a software application business in three years that lets users make online animated videos. Build a prototype within one year by committing 15 hours per week to build it. Get an investor within six months. Hire a team to do the rest within one year.
- Get a promotion to lead a team within one year by completing all required training and certification in three months.
- Start my first money-making website in six months by working 15 hours a week to build the products and write the copies. Hit $800 in revenue within two years.
- Raise my sales figures by 20% in three months by taking three sales courses and growing my sales contacts by 20%.
- Build a small sales team with over $5 million in annual sales within three years.
Read on for information about crafting a strong career narrative for yourself.
This is part two of a three-part series.