2014 Career Planning – Review, Reflect, Move Forward

It’s that time of the year – looking back, taking stock, and figuring out if we want to call 2013 a success or a failure… and strategizing how we can make 2014 even better. To be fully transparent, I suck at this – particularly around the “success” part of that equation. I could spend a few weeks analyzing just how sucky something went and question every small detail along the way.

But alas, only focusing on what went wrong, never helps me move forward. It only serves to keep me stuck. While I don’t think January 1st is the only time that you should be reviewing, reflecting and moving forward, it does seem to be the easiest way to figure out what your priorities will be for the year ahead.

Below you will find the framework that I use every year to help me get focused and start, stop or continue various activities. A few things to note before we start:

  • This template can be used for any type of “career” you are looking to plan for the upcoming year. It works if you are an entrepreneur, a traditional corporate worker, or something in between. It’s all about how you want to focus and position yourself.
  • A great suggestion from Pam Slim is to think of each topic as a strategic priority – I had been doing this for years with the heading “topic,” but when she mentioned to me honing in on priorities, it felt more authentic. So use those interchangeably based on what you are trying to plan out.

It’s quick and dirty – no need to linger in the past! Ready?

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Getting Out of Tactical Hell

What have I always hated about “work?” The consistent answer is being in tactical hell. I’m guessing you feel my pain. Being able to not only strategize, but tactical deliver is considered a huge differentiator in the workplace and in the solopreneur world. You don’t just think, you do.

But isn’t tactical hell… hell?

In the corporate environment, knowing the nitty gritty details and being able to execute them, is valued. Perhaps it even helps you with job security in some positions. When you become known as the go-to person for X, Y or Z, then your stock in the company goes up as well.

But how do you move past paying your dues with tactical delivery and transition into strategy and leadership?

I have worked at various small and large companies across the U.S. One of the most mind-boggling things that is consistent throughout all of them, is senior leaders, dealing with the tactical BS – constantly. Directors, VPs, and above wanting to stay intimately connected with the tactical delivery of their scope of responsibility.

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Being Able to Walk Away from an Offer

Earlier in my career, I always felt lucky to just have a job. That was before the economy turned to crap and jobs were harder to find. I never thought about the long-term trajectory of the skills that I wanted to use and leverage during my career, or what brought me joy. My goal was simple: be employed, earn a lot of money, and move up the ladder.

Let’s just say that I went through a LOT of jobs during those years. I was an apply and interview queen. If a company was a well-known name and they wanted me, then I said yes. Always.

At some point in 2010 when the idea of starting my own business, becoming my own boss, started to become a real possibility, my attitude to saying yes to companies shifted, dramatically. I can’t pinpoint what happened exactly, but perhaps for the first time I realized my own value to a company… not the other way around.

It’s Ok to Walk Away

I still applied and interviewed at what would be considered, for many, dream companies. Think: Silicon Valley’s biggest names and “cool places” to work. I applied, interviewed, and was offered a few awesome roles.

But I said no to all of them.

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Embrace Your Expertise

My world is somewhat divided these days – I have a group of people who are bloggers and online entrepreneurs, and then my “real life” friends and family, who struggle with understanding what I actually do. I feel lucky to have both perspectives because undoubtedly, each faction sees different things when we discuss new business ideas. The biggest difference between my friends’ perspectives is their take on knowledge and information sharing.

In the online space, people often share their personal opinions, their experiences, their knowledge. Entrepreneurship, particularly online, is vastly about freedom – going after your own vision, delivering information and content the way you want to provide it, and at the core, believing that you have value to add to people. And then it is up to the audience whether the information shared resonates or not.

Strangely enough, some of my offline friends tend to be in a state of “this person knows more/best/better than you – why don’t you listen to them.” Every time I hear that “advice,” I cringe a little, followed by a snarky response (in my head usually), “If that person/you knows so much or disagrees with what I have to say, they/you should start your own blog.”

Personal snark aside, I used to believe the same thing – and I know that many of my clients question their own strengths and knowledge all of the time.

Why do we believe that someone else knows better than we do?

We put these barriers around our limitations and experiences without even realizing it – not applying for a specific job because you question your scope of skills; not throwing your hat in the ring for a promotion because someone else has seniority; or even deferring to someone else’s idea even though you know that you have a great idea/solution.

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Social Media is Killing Your Job Prospects

It happens every day. Someone in my Twitter feed or Facebook timeline, does or says something that makes me cringe. Not because they are using foul language (you know to be careful with that, right?), or that they are being overtly inappropriate.

But because they are being a whiny, pain the butt.

I am not going to lie and say I understand how people lose perspective and download their thoughts about the world without considering the impact before doing so. Maybe I’m old, or old school, or just overly paranoid. As they say, once it’s out there – it’s out there.

As an HR professional (and any recruiter and hiring manager with a brain), I will be checking these accounts before making an offer. There is no exception.

I’ll use a real life example – so you can see what I’m talking about. I have a real life friend (let’s call him Bob) who is actively seeking a new job. Not overtly, but he’s definitely ready to move on to what’s next. As a person, he’s a hard worker, easy to get along with, doesn’t rock the boat, and delivers slightly above average – a good employee.

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