Monday Morning Pep Talk
Thanksgiving will be celebrated in the United States on Thursday and by now everyone knows what their plans are—where they are eating dinner, what time the meal is being served, who is preparing their favorite holiday recipes and all the details. Have you spent as much time thinking about your career as you have your holiday plans? It doesn’t have to be an onerous task. It just takes a few hours to figure out if what you are doing today will get you where you want to be in the future. During this time of Thanksgiving is the perfect time to spend a few hours thinking about your career plan. These three steps are thought-starters. Feel free to share your ideas as comments on the blog; you may comment anonymously if you are more comfortable.
STEP ONE: DETERMINE WHERE YOUR CAREER IS TODAY IN YOUR WORK/LIFE CONTINUUM
At 40+ your career is no longer entry-level, however due to a change of industry or career break you could easily find yourself in your 50s or 60s in a “starter job” and that is okay. The important element is to identify a realistic career goal from where you are today to what you plan to do at the end of your working life. Remember Stephen Covey and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? One of the tenets of his approach was beginning with the end in mind. If you are working to earn a living in your 40s, 50s and 60s---contingency plans are vital. You survived the economic downturn post-9/11, the recession of 2008 and the craziness of 2013 as the 16-day government shutdown brought clarity that no job is immune to disappearing. Entire industries are changing as business reacts to implementing the Affordable Care Act (like business reacted to the implementation of Medicare and Social Security decades before). Here are three questions to ask in this phase:
1. What is the cost/benefit analysis* to my family, health, financial security and personal happiness to invest in moving to the next rung or two up the corporate ladder? (*You may call it pro/con or risk/reward). Are your positioned to do it with your current organization?
2. How much longer do you plan to work in your current work environment and what does your next stage look like? Retirement planning is more than reaching a dollar goal-that’s one element of a very complex stage of life. You need a holistic exit plan.
3. What is your game plan if your current work ends suddenly or you can’t perform the type of work you are currently doing? Life happens-do you have a back-up plan?
STEP TWO: WHO IS MY NETWORK? MY SUPPORT TEAM?
These are two different groups of people with a few crossovers. Your network consists of people in your industry or in your profession that can open doors to a new opportunity. One thing has not changed; it remains difficult for an experienced person to find new employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data has shown since 2008 it takes mature workers over one year to find a job. BLS data doesn’t factor the employees who are underemployed, start a business or job-hunters that drop out of the job market. Your support team members are the shoulders you cry on and the people you vent to—I think these people should not be your professional network! These are people who think you are great, your champions and personal cheer squad. They don’t need to know a lot about your work or your industry—they just know you and think you are the best thing since French toast.
Two questions for the network and support team:
1. When was the last time you met face-to-face or on a live phone call with your two top network partners? Let’s make that a priority before the year ends.
2. If you don’t have a wide support team, start recruiting today—because if you depend on one or two people you will run those “besties” away during a prolonged career reinvention or job search. My 85-year-old great-aunt is part of my extensive support team. A conversation with her leaves me ready to take on the world!
STEP THREE: GIVE THANKS!
Whether you are employed and you are planning for the future or unemployed and seeking a new opportunity, 40+ workers that network, have a great attitude and keep their skills sharp ARE finding opportunities. 2013 is the biggest year of success stories in several years for experienced workers. Independent business owners have flourished this year; two of my favorite corporate refugees that are now franchisees reported double digit growth and people are working their networks and finding great opportunities. The stock market is up and hopefully so is your 403(b) or 401(k)! And even if none of this is true for you----you’re sitting upright and reading. Have a great week and a festive holiday!