On Your Way Up Through Your Career, Keep Reflecting On Your Past.
No one will ever be the same person at retirement that they were when they stepped through their first professional workplace door. Even if one remains in the same industry, or even in the same position, for their entire career their perception of their workplace, their position and their value (and values) will adjust as time goes on. There’s a constant natural evolution at work. (Pun intended.)
When I’ve presented to business school undergraduates ready to graduate into their futures, I’ve always made a point to tell them their goals and perceptions of themselves will change and evolve year-to-year and position-to-position as their career cycle spins on and they gain first-hand experience in the workplace.
“…too often when given more power or experience, people tend to forget what their previous goals and assessments were for…”
And there absolutely should be a constant evolution and learning cycle.
But too often when given more power or experience, people tend to forget what their previous goals and assessments were for, and of, the workplace. That previous and subtle objective perception of what the workplace needs to execute loses its grip and people tend to forget where they came from.
For example, too often the case might be that those who proposed improvements for their workplace or complained about what wasn’t working, subsequently, when they were promoted, lose sight of those previous concerns. As soon as they were afforded a promotion into a position that gave them the power to effectuate change in what they thought was holding back the communication, productivity and efficiency in the workplace, those concerns of the past seemed to fall by the wayside and nothing was ever resolved.
Related Post: Be The Change You Want To See
So that’s why we need to reflect and capture ourselves in our moments today and not lose sight of what we see from below as we move onward and upward, today through tomorrow.
“…it’s OK to veer from your previous goals since everything changes, as long as you are working toward the betterment of both yourself and your workplace.”
Some of us might know ourselves well enough to “just know” or remember what we need to do as we move up in our careers while for others it helps to write down their reflections of their current self and their workplaces, and what they hope for in the future for each. A Career Evolution Journal can provide a road map throughout.
The journal can start by answering the following questions:
For Yourself Now
- What are my strengths?
- How will I enhance these strengths?
- What are my weaknesses?
- How will I correct these weaknesses?
For Your Future Self
- What are my goals for 6 months from now?
- What are my goals for 1 year from now?
- What are my goals for 1 1/2 years from now?
- What are my goals for 2 years from now?
(You get the idea.)
For Your Current Workplace
- What are its strengths?
- What can be done/can I do to enhance these strengths?
- What are its weaknesses?
- What can be done/can I do to correct these weaknesses?
For Your Current Workforce
- Who is supportive of change?
- How can I harness that support?
- Who is not?
- If not, can they be swayed?
These are just a few basic questions with which to start. Work with baseline questions which you feel are most beneficial for you to enhance the ongoing evolution of both you and your workplace.
Make the promise to yourself that “I will assess my journal every three months in order to determine how I have evolved and to ensure to myself that I am not losing sight of what is important to me.” Every three months is that sweet spot length of time where you’re not refocusing too often but also not waiting too long to make path corrections when needed. Your thoughts don’t have to be lengthy or detailed; it’s fine if just jot down some bullets of major ideas or plans. It doesn’t have to be a diary so an outline will suffice. Even though you might review that journal on a frequent basis, it doesn’t hurt to be cognizant of this thought process in your day-to-day routine.
This is also a practice best shared among coworkers who you trust in your workplace, as well as college or life-long friends who are at comparable “finding myself” points in their careers, or even with an older mentor who is further along in their career and can provide some valuable insight. So seek out those Co-Coaches, for those connections to supplement this exercise with ongoing, regular short- and long-term accountability and objectivity that we all need and which will cast a reflection back to us of where we truly stand compared to what we previously desired for ourselves, our workplaces, and even our lifespaces.
“The high standard you seek as a follower should be the minimum standard you hope to set as a #leader.”
And it’s OK to veer from your previous goals since everything changes, as long as you are working toward the betterment of both yourself and your workplace. Changing will become concerning only if we have lost track of our values, morals, and leadership foundation.
This evolution is similar to how we (hopefully) change our clothes every day. Every day, you change those articles of clothing but overall you’re the same person. In your career your profession, industry, connections, and goals might change but make sure you still have those same underlying values.
Make sure you’re not compromising or forgetting what’s important to you as you move up through your career.
The high standard you seek as a follower should be the minimum standard you hope to set as a leader.
Long Story Short: What would the Past You say to the Current You?
Don’e lose sight of yourself.
Keep reflecting on your way up
- Do you have a system that you follow to self-assess yourself and your career?
- Do you have a Co-Coach, whether in the workplace or not, with whom you can work to keep each other focused and accountable?
- Have you remembered what you had previously desired for your workplace and your career, and then followed through on those considerations as you transitioned to a position with more change power?