Career plans are the road-maps that we use to arrive at a desired outcome, namely “Career Success”. However, just as with all journeys there are bumps and detours that are not planned yet do still occur. At this point, such bumps and detours are simply incorporated into the journey and the journey continues, as opposed to stopping in its tracks and being cited as a failed journey.
Too often when career plans do not go 100% to plan, it is deemed to be a failure and subsequently saddled with all the negative connotations that align to the general perception of failure as a permanent state as opposed to a transient period.
This is a common lens through which corporate career progression is also viewed and can result in career drifting (i.e. first taste of failure places a full stop in your career plan, hence leading to drifting from job to job).
Here are three positive action points to handle Career Bumps & Detours:
Strategic Career Plan
Devise a 5-year strategic career plan, which is to be a living document detailing current position and desired position at the end of the five years (as a living document it will change throughout the five year period as there may be… bumps & detours along the way).
The reasoning for the detailed plan is quite simple. If you do not know exactly where you are going – how will you recognise it when you arrive there?” Rarely will someone stand up and say “yep, I am preparing for failure” but that is exactly what one does when there is no clear definition of: a) what success looks like and b) what the plan is to achieve that success.
However, with a plan at hand, you will know when the plan has gone off-piste and you can then commence re-routing. No plan = no clue of being off track = Career drifting!!
Accept Bumps & Detours as learning opportunities
It is critical not to negate the total experience. It is crucial to separate the undesired outcome from the process leading to the outcome – this is the perfect time to assess the what, the why and the how? At what point did the plan go off-piste? Why did it happen? How can it be prevented from happening again? If this is not undertaken and no lesson is learnt then be prepared for an extremely bumpy ride. Bumps can lead to failure if you are continuously repeating the same action and arriving at the same bump.
Once the learning opportunity has been completed, move on and get back on track. The plan may change due to the learning undertaken, which is fine – alter the plan and move on! Remember not everyone’s vision of success is the same, which is why it is vital to clearly define your personal view of success – As your vision of success can and will possibly change over time. Enjoy your journey and stay in the driver’s seat!