What is your career choices based on?

Is it your family situation, economic collapse or just trying to find a job?  Each choice carries its own strategy and approach.

This came clear to me the other day as I was in a coaching session with someone who had to move back home.  She had been very successful in her prior role to the point of having a live-in housekeeper as she was a single parent.  Now she was back to her hometown with its strong family network.  Because she downsized to much smaller town, all her expenses were greatly reduced.

When she was on top she worked all the accompanying hours which go along with the success.  She missed lots of her kids activities but was assured that they were taken care of since the housekeeper was there 24/7.

Career choices determined by temporary situations

She admitted that this time around she would keep her kids front and center in all of her career choices.  That would be the determinant in making a choice for her next career as she said.

There is a problem however with this type of thinking.  In making career choices, we sometimes  because of guilt or other physiological factors  let that drive our decision.  It could be aging parents, growing kids or just that you need a job, any job.

But what happens when that temporary situation no longer exist.  That is what I spoke to my friend about.  I told her that you are making all these decision based on one set of variables (her kids).  Since they were in middle school they would eventually be moving away.  I was presented with a tremendous opportunity some years ago to move to a new position from New York to Seattle.  I had just lost my father and my mother was getting on it age and my career choice was made based on that.  I declined the promotion because my career choice had variables that could have created hardships.

However I knew that I would eventually have to make a choice as to my next move.  So it was pretty clear that I had found my career sweet spot.  Geographically I would want to stay in the NYC area and would put out signals that I was looking to move on to a higher position.  Within I year I had accepted another role and my career was now focused at another level.

The smartest move you can make to improve your career in isn’t to set lofty goals or draw up personal mission statements, but to focus on something you can act on right now.

So what sorts of things can you begin doing today that will pay dividends all through the months ahead?

You are in control of your destiny

When all is said and done, where do you want to be?  This is a simple question and you may not be able to answer it at the moment.  However you must try and focus on this as much as you can because this could be your key to getting it on.  Everyone regardless of your station in life is in control.  There are no outside forces that is spending time to try and control your destiny.  My father had a favorite saying that I never lost sight on.  “you can blame a man for being down, but you can blame them for staying down”  Get up, get focused and get it on.

Are your goals clear and realistic?

Are your goals based on someone else’s desire for you.  I had a friend who went to college based on her parents desire.  She majored in Accounting, because both parents were accountants and drilled into her that this was the best profession on the planet.

Two years out of with degree she hated it.  Once she got over it and took charge she moved into another direction and firmly got on track.

 Who do you know that is doing what you want to do?

Once you have identified the destination, it is important that you network with people that are doing what you want.  Who are the key leaders in your area of expertise?  Do you know them?  How do you get to know them?  Sometimes this is easy if you are in a large city because there are always industry functions that you can attend.

Another way that has worked for me is to just send them a note.  If you come across an article that you really enjoy, normally there is an email or other contact information at the end.  If you enjoyed the article, send them an email telling them how much you liked it.  Tell them why you liked it.  Ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter and on Facebook if they have a page.  This way you can gradually build up your network.

There will always be detours

Build and allow for flexibility into your plan.  Trust me there will always be detours, but think of it this way.  If you have ever used a GPS you will notice that regardless of the wrong turns it will always recalculate.  This is what happens when you have to detour whether by choice or just happenstance.  Always realize that regardless of the situation, you can always refocus and get back on track.

In the end, we determine our own trajectory and no one else.

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