Baseball legend Yogi Berra said a lot of things that caught people’s attention. One of the most famous was: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” When applied to your career, that has a special meaning. Do you know where it’s going?
Roadmaps figure in many different situations, not only for actual travel on the road but in less physically specific settings, including the business world. If you already have a career roadmap in place, you probably know something about their value. If you don’t, now is a good time to start thinking about creating one.
Unless you’re psychic, you can’t see the future until it arrives, at least not with any degree of certainty. That means you need to find tools to help you identify the career path you might travel along in the year ahead and determine what direction it should take.
One useful step is to consider and rule out career situations that are highly unlikely, if not impossible. For instance, you won’t be working as a doctor next year if you haven’t started medical school! Of course, that’s an extreme example–purposely so. The point is, you can’t exactly see your future ahead of time, but you can eliminate extreme examples and focus your attention on those that contain some measure of possibility.
Then you look at how those possibility scenarios might play out. What would have to happen for you to reach a particular career goal? What might get in the way?
If it resembles this cartoon illustration, you’re in trouble! Seriously, if you can’t even define clearly what your starting point and likely next step should be, you don’t really have a career roadmap; you have a hazy idea that won’t get you very far.
A career roadmap needs to include helpful directions, along with check-points to evaluate your progress and ensure that you’re still moving in the direction you intended to go. Because it’s not a roadmap in the classical printed sense, it can be modified (redirected) if you find that something isn’t working out as expected.
It might help if you share your roadmap with people whose opinion you trust and respect. At the very least, they could spot potential obstacles you hadn’t anticipated and give you a heads-up that enables you to modify the roadmap before you run into a problem. Sometimes an issue that isn’t obvious to you will almost leap out at someone who isn’t so close to the situation.
If you know the goal you want to reach for the coming year, whether it’s a promotion at work or a new job at a different company, you want to create your roadmap with that goal in mind. That means your planning needs to take into account three things, overall:
Each piece of your planning process needs to be based on a realistic foundation, including how things are versus how you wish they could be. If you keep that fact in mind, planning your career roadmap has an excellent chance of taking you where you want to go.