We all start our careers with the same common career objectives—to learn as much as we can about the job, the process and ourselves. Some of us stick with those same objectives for life, which is fine, as long as there is always room to learn and grow in that particular field. At some point, we may satisfy those early career objectives and get restless. Rather than make a career change and start all over again, we can change our career objectives.
Career Objective Δ #1: Technology to Soft Skills
Technology refers to a set of skills that we have to learn to do the job. It could be software, like spreadsheets or CAD, or it could simply be a form or device. In order to advance, we must master more than technology. Soft skills, like communicating with different personality types, actively listening, managing people and leading a team move us from worker to manager to executive. In order to be successful, we must master the technology and then change our objective to managing people.
Career Objective Δ #2: Task to Team
How many times have we thought: Just put your head down and get the job done? Staying on task is hugely important throughout our careers, but at some point that focus is too narrow. If we want to move up, we have to look up. We widen our objective to include not just the task, but also the team, the organization and the entire company. This is called employee buy in and is hugely important to an company’s success. What this feels like is not just I got my job done but I will help make this project/team/department/company a success.
Career Objective Δ #3: Process to People
This goes right along with the previous objective. Everyday we have lists of things or tasks we have to do to stay on track to meet a goal or deadline. Too many of us get so caught up in the rote process that we lose sight of the people. Don’t just look up but look out. Collaborating with others, asking for feedback and giving it, is how we change our objective from the process to the people. This looks like I just need to finish this myself to I wonder if there is a better way to do this?
Career Objective Δ #4: Personal Development to Organizational Development
Just like the above two objectives, this is about focus. Our objective when we start a career is how to be better at that career—again, gaining the skills we need to succeed. That’s personal development. At some point, we must ask ourselves how we can give back. To start in the immediate vicinity, we can look around. A mentor is a leader. If we change our career objective to one that is more sustainable, for the good of the organization, then we begin to pour into and teach others around us. The kind of success this objective reaps is not just felt by the community, but it also helps make your organization more sustainable (conscious capitalism.)
Career Objective Δ #5: Self-Reliance to Mentoring
We’ve looked up, looked out and looked around. We can’t be successful if we don’t look for help. This career objective shift from being a subject matter expert to realizing we can’t do it all is vital to success. It’s important that we have accountability, so we don’t lost sight of ourselves along the way. A mentor or coach helps us take stock of what we’re doing and puts us back on the right path when we slip.
A lot of us plateau in our careers and think we need to make a career change. But why start over again with the same set of career objectives? Often, we just need new career objectives. I hope you can reference this blog post as a checklist to make sure your career objectives are aligned with your goals.