Career Progress–What Lies Ahead for You?

Does the path to your next job or career destination look vague–disconcertingly unclear or perhaps even intimidating? If so, you’re probably not alone. Although that might not make you feel better, it can be encouraging to realize you aren’t the only one who has faced uncertainty about how to move forward, when to take the next step, and what kind of help could enable you to achieve the career progress you want.

If you can’t see the end of the road, as far as what lies ahead for you and your job/career progress, don’t give up hope. You don’t always have to see every step clearly, as long as you have the goal (ultimate destination) clearly defined and fixed in your mind when you plan your next steps. That approach should help you minimize, if not totally avoid, the major missteps you might otherwise make.

It Helps to Have a “Practical” Vision

Whether you’re in the early stages of your career or well up in the senior management ranks, it always helps to have a “practical” vision of where you want to go. By “practical” vision, I mean that you know where you want to end up but you also realize you need an executable action plan to achieve that goal.

As some of you know, I’m a big fan of career management/planning. At the same time, that planning needs to be somewhat flexible. Things happen that you didn’t–or couldn’t–foresee, and they might require adjusting your plan. If your plan is flexible but still focused on the desired outcome, you’re well positioned to keep moving forward in the right direction.

Goal Setting and Your Career Progress

Setting clear, do-able goals is the first step to getting where you want to go next. Career progress without doing that is likely to be sporadic at best and possibly derailed altogether at worst. I recently read an article on UC Berkeley’s site titled “Goal-Setting: Developing a Vision & Goals for Your Career Plan.” The article’s guidance might be intended primarily for university students, but it’s potentially useful for career-minded individuals at all levels.

The article includes two sections: one on “Developing a Clear Vision Statement” and the other on “Setting Career Development Goals.” Three points from the second section stood out to me–you might find them helpful as well:

  • Express your goals positively, rather than framing them in terms of what you don’t want.
  • Set priorities so that you know which of your goals to focus your attention toward [which will help] you avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals.
  • Set realistic goals that you can achieve and that are in your own control.

Above all, don’t let uncertainty about what lies ahead keep you from taking action. Alone or with help as needed, focus on what you do know, what you can control–and get started. At worst, you should at least be able to make some forward progress; at best, you’ll be able to see and celebrate real, encouraging career progress, which wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t taken a deep breath and gone for it.

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