In a work setting, we all engage in some sort of strategic planning, yet many of us have never created a strategic plan for our careers, or for that matter, our lives. We go along with what is, each day passing. You might be consciously aware that you need to be doing more, or you get that nagging feeling of discomfort, disconnection, or little twinges of mild unhappiness, yet most people don’t plan their own careers. Long passed are the days you can rely on your employer to give you the best opportunities or be assured your company or industry will exist for future decades. Today, being in charge of your own career is a must.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein.
What makes you unique?
What is it that you do really well with ease?
What special skills do you bring to any organization you work for?
These are your Strengths. Your Strengths naturally guide how you problem solve, how you get things done, how you get others onboard, and how you build relationships. Your Strengths are the filter by which you observe and manage the world around you.
Understanding YOUR unique combination is critical for you to assess whether a brainstorming idea warrants further exploration. When my clients better understand their own strengths, they can easily filter options and ideas. Maybe they don’t have a definitive yes, but knowing their strengths helps them to set up the opportunities to ask questions of those who are in the positions, companies, and/or industries that appear on their brainstorming list.
“If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything.” Tom Rath
Weaknesses need to be managed, but we will never gain excellence or mastery by working on our weaknesses. At best, we are able to be proficient in those skills that are not in our strengths wheelhouse. I’ll add that the only reason to work on a weakness is if it is getting in the way of your job and strategic plan. So chose carefully.
- Is that weakness getting in the way of you doing that job?
- Is that skill critical to the job?
- If I am average in that skill, will I still excel in my job?
Knowing that no one will ever have a job that only taps into their strengths, we all do have to develop a few of our weaknesses in our careers. But remember, weaknesses will never become strengths. One client of mine was a masterful program developer but in her role and position in her company, she needed to not only create programs but also run them. Therefore, even though she had high-level strategic skills, she had to develop ways to get in the weeds and actually run the programs she created. Specifically, she had to work on her detailed process skills specifically needed for the program to be successful all while still freeing her to create and assess new and current programs. BUT, she was recognized for the programs she created not the running of those programs.
“It is not often that a man can make opportunities for himself. But he can put himself in such shape that when or if the opportunity comes, he is ready.” Theodore Roosevelt
- What are the opportunities right in front of you?
- What are the opportunities that you want to create for yourself?
- Is your company starting a new group specifically to explore opportunities?
- Is there a strength that you currently aren’t using in your job?
- How might you have opportunities to invest in your strengths?
Opportunities are not just coincidences or luck. Opportunities are usually something that presents itself after multiple events- some of which you create and some you capitalize on. Think of when you discuss a movie or a place with someone and suddenly, multiple comments for multiple sources make note of that place or movie. You brought it to your consciousness and suddenly it is showing up everywhere! Opportunities can work the exact same way.
“It is not the strongest of the species that will survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin
Threats are usually external events beyond your control but think about having a plan to address it if it happens.
- What if my organization is merged with another?
- What if I get a new boss I don’t relate to?
- Could technology significantly change my job or industry?
- Is there a pattern of early retirement packages with my company?
Carol Dweck in her fabulous book titled “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” clearly lays out the benefits of having a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. All generations can adopt a growth mindset, and all should be asking, how could we NOT have a growth mindset today given the effects of the rapid speed of technology changes in our world today. Asking ourselves “what if?” is the foundation of an organization’s strategic plan, so why not ask that question with your own career strategic plan in mind.
Develop Strategies from your SWOT Analysis
Your SWOT results will set the short-term and long-term course of actions for your career. You have to develop that strategic plan or this was just an interesting exercise.
- What changes are you going to make or ask for in your work to better utilize your strengths?
- Are there any weaknesses that are impacting your job performance?
- Can you use some of your strengths to minimize your weaknesses?
- Any skills you need to acquire to minimize potential outside threats?
- Are there opportunities you need to raise your hand for? Are there strategic people you need to build connections with both inside and outside your current company?
Use Design Your Midlife & Beyond coaching to help you identify your next steps and create an inspiring and engaging Life Design.