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What’s next for you?

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Thanks for your motivating tips and advice. I always look forward to the Women Advance blog posts that come to my inbox. —Jess M.

career development | WomenAdvance.comIt’s mid-year, and a good time to take stock. Is your career proceeding apace toward your goal? (I’m assuming you have a goal!)

Sometimes it helps to step back and get a bigger view of where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there. Here are my “top ten” questions for self-assessment. Why not schedule an hour (or a weekend?) to answer them?

  1.  Identity: Who is holding your mirror? If you don’t like the image being projected on yourself by someone else, then choose your own image to see in the mirror.
  2.   Ambition: “How do I envision success?” Be as specific as possible, as if you’re directing a movie.
  3. Purpose: “Why am I doing this?” Use the “five-ways” technique. When you answer, ask yourself the same followup question five times: “Why is that important?” You’ll eventually drill down to your core.
  4. Brand: “What is my unique value-added?” If you don’t know, no one else does, either.
  5. History: “What led me here?” Some interesting things come up with this one . . .
  6. Risk: “What am I (not) willing to pay/invest in myself?” No risk, no payoff.
  7. Development: “What do I need to learn?” This one is best asked (and addressed) on a quarterly basis. Our world — and your job — moves quickly.
  8. Awareness: “What’s happening?” Remember to look up from your device! Your job is about more than your productivity — it’s about people and politics.
  9. Culture: “What environment best supports me?” Are you getting it at your current workplace?
  10. Strategy: “What’s next . . .  and next . . . and next?” This one is best asked — and adjusted — monthly.

Listening is not a skill; it is a discipline. Anybody can do it. All you have to do is to keep your mouth shut.  — Peter F. Drucker

This is a tough one, for sure. Because isn’t work all about being proactive, contributing ideas? But ideas don’t always happen in our own singular minds. Indeed, ideas don’t spring fully formed like Athena (goddess of widsom) from the head of Zeus. Ideas are incubated, and shared, and collaboratively worked. And in order to best cook our ideas, we do need to listen to what others have to offer, whether that’s adding to, critiquing, or editing our precious brainchildren.

And we need to listen to feedback, too. And bad news, on occasion. When I want to defend myself, or make objections, it’s such a temptation to interrupt. At those moments, Drucker’s advice is most urgent: keep my mouth shut. And my ears open. Better to walk away and digest the information before circling back around for a fuller discussion.

Listening springs from a grounded place, where we are free to be responsive rather than reactive. You know that guy, always over-reacting. He’s a pain to be around, let alone work with. To be grounded takes intention and practice. Do you spend that 15 minutes a day doing nothing but listening to yourself? That’s right, it’s important not just to listen to others, but to ourselves, too.

(Am I the right career coach for you? Email me to find out.)


career coaching |WomenAdvance.comOK, I’m in a Dave Letterman kind of mood. Top-10 tactics to advance your career:

10.  Sign up for continuing education. If you’re not expanding your knowledge base, you’re falling behind.

9.   Volunteer for your professional organization. Great way to increase your visibility!

8.   Schedule private time every week. It’s the only way to get out of the weeds, into strategic thinking and planning.

7.   Read more. Are you keeping up with your function, your industry, your competition?

6.   Check in with a headhunter. Every day of the year, you need to know your market value, and your options.

5.   Update your victory file. Every day of the year, you need to communicate your value-added.

4.   Speak up. Be the one who asks the best questions at every meeting.

3.   Schedule a coffee date. Once a week, every week, get out there and refresh your connections.

2.  Write an article. These days, executives are thought leaders.

1. Define your goal. What’s your ultimate ambition? What’s your next step?

(Am I the right career coach for you? Email me to find out.)