Take Charge of Your Career

Published in The Nashville Business Journal

If you let random events develop your career it might be just that – an unsteady path. Or you can be proactive, taking charge of the direction of your work and life. Assuming you select the second option, here are a few thoughts to put you on the best possible track.

The first challenge is to figure out where you want your career to go. You may already have a plan, but you can benefit further from talking to other guides. Start by discussing your career intentions with your boss to see what the future might hold. Then consider seeking out other leaders within your business. Ask the advice of a mentor if you have one. I found that talking to my father, who also was a businessman, helped me focus on my career.

Once you have a clear idea of where you want to go, map out a specific plan. Set up a personal advancement agenda. Keep in mind that a career development plan is not short term – it will span several years. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What books, magazines, trade journals, etc., do I need to be reading?
  • What business experiences should I try to get on my agenda?
  • Should I request a transfer to a different role to learn new skills?
  • What developmental classes could I take to further my proficiencies?
  • Who should be on my list of networking targets, and how much time can I dedicate to networking each week?

The goal is to craft a plan that gives you the exposure, experiences and knowledge to move ahead. You may have to push others to get it all done, but some assertiveness may reflect well on your ambition to get ahead. However, be sure to keep your family in the loop. for example, if you are pursuing a career goal that will result in moving to another city, it’s critical that your family is engaged and supportive.

Take charge of your career. Build a plan, stick to it, modify goals as necessary and don’t give up. Your diligence will pay off. As one business sage I know always said, “You will get that promotion long after you think you should have gotten it – and when you least expect it.” So be prepared.

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