By E. Elizabeth Carter
Here is another way to view this. When taking a more difficult hike, one must look down a lot and focus on the path. If not, they may trip over a branch or stub their toe. They may also encounter bugs or animals that may not be too happy to see them. That is the same with one’s career. Spending the time to define what you want in your next position and your career is essential. Unfortunately too many people focus on money and other benefits like healthcare but do not drill down on the different duties and responsibilities that may make them successful/fulfilled or not. They also do not identify what issues they may encounter along the way as well. As an example, you may excel at a certain task but you do not like doing it so you procrastinate; this may affect the “overall perception” of you by your superiors and coworkers.
A great tool to help with this is a mind map. It is a technique where you write one thought in a circle and then draw lines with ideas related to it. So you may have written “leader” in the circle and the offshoots could be emotional intelligence, employee relations, negotiations, training, hiring, strategic planning, motivation, etc. By using mind maps you can brainstorm ideas and concepts simplistically but also effectively.
Another issue is that you may not really know where this journey is going to take you. Does anyone really know? I took a position once that I thought would expand my skills but in the end it didn’t because my boss was lazy. Another role I had was much more beneficial than I ever dreamed possible due to the company’s emphasis on training and development. The point is that you do have to define a path but you should also determine some side paths in case things don’t work out the way you thought they would. In other words, do anticipate the unexpected. The greatest leaders always have a second map in their pocket in case the first one leads them down to the lake when they want to be headed to the mountain. Always consider a Plan B. This is not being negative but more proactive. You may be nicely surprised to see a rainbow when you expected rain so you just never know.