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What’s next for you?

You’ve got ambitions, that’s for sure. And we aim to see you turn those ambitions into achievements. Women Advance supplies you with career coaching, how-to webinars, and inspirational interviews with amazing women. To get it all, just sign up right here:

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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.

As a career/executive coach, I am a fan of concrete strategies, based on thoughtful analysis. One of my favorite tools is an oldie-but-goody, from the 2007 book by Cathleen Benko and Anne Weisberg entitled Mass Career Customization.

Why do I love this book? Because it gives life to one of my foundational coaching mantras: Think sequentially. (Curious about my other top mantras? Watch my video.)

When you are planning your career path (you ARE planning, right?), how do you account for different phases in your life? Like the times when you don’t mind a lot of travel. The times you when you will be raising a young family or tending elder parents. The times you may be studying for an advanced degree. The times you want to rock it in overdrive.

Benko and Weisberg offer a four-part framework to guide you. So, for any give phase of your career (now, next, or later), ask yourself:

  1.  Pace. How quickly do I want to progress to the next level? Shooting star, or holding steady?
  2. Workload. How much work do I prefer to take on? Consider the number and type of assignment, along with adjunct activities such as recruiting, office morale activities, community outreach, etc.
  3. Location/Schedule. When and where do I need to perform my work? Consider your ability to travel, your need to be at home, and if you have schedule constraints.
  4. Role. What position and responsibilities can I handle? Better to be an individual contributor, or a manager/leader? Line or staff?

As your life takes its twists and turns, your answers to these questions will change. Rarely is anyone in full-on career advancement mode their entire lives. So, the best way to handle anticipated — or unforeseen — life situations is to assess what you want in a job at any given time.

A change in your profile does not mean that your career has to stall! If you recognize that every career has its ebbs and flows and are conscious about anticipating your life situation and work capacities, then you can choreograph your optimal career pathway.

If you are clear about where you are in your career path, the more likely that your employer will align with your situation. If that is not possible, you will be clear about the need for a different employment situation.

And you will know that, even if you are in a conscious “hold” pattern at work, you will be back on the fast track in your next phase. And you can prepare. (You ARE preparing, aren’t you?)

 

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.)