You know, I’ve found that being too focused on your employer’s goals can distract you from you own. That’s not to say that your goals and your employer’s can’t be similar or overlap. Nor am I suggesting that your employer (large or small) is controlling your future, however, you do need to make sure that you are attending to your own agenda to ensure your own growth.
Being deeply involved in your job can be very rewarding to many. I for one really liked being an important team member in my department – I was able to recommend or bring solutions to the table for difficult problems. The more successful you are at your job, it sometimes leads to overworking yourself and keeping you away from family, friends and, generally, life itself.
This is where I want to suggest that you take a minute (hour?) and think about what your goals are in your life. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
Ok, now that you’ve thought a bit – have you ever written these ideas down? Have you ever sat down with a notepad or journal and created even an abbreviated overview of your life & career goals? If you’re married, have you and your spouse sat down and outlined a plan? While not a requirement, it can help alleviate some unknowns or uncertainties and can foster conversations on finding those dreams and wishes for the future.
Every successful business, organization, or project starts with a planning session. The more intricate, expensive, or critical, the more a plan is important in it’s success. The same is true of your life & career, without some kind of plan you’re likely going to wander through life without as much enjoyment as might be possible.
Having an overall plan can help keep focus of what your next step should or might be. There are so many things that come up in life that you can’t plan for, but you should always be able to see that you’re off track, or that your views and goals are changing. Being able to refer back to a plan from time to time can help in motivating oneself as well.
Map It Out
One way to start could be to simply draw a map. Think about how you plan a road trip with start/end points, rest stops, points of interest, etc… Starting with today as your starting point and pick something that you wish or dream for as an end point. Next you could start identifying points along way that you need to get to your dream, roadblocks that could keep it from happening, and detours to get around them.
Change Is Good
Don’t be afraid to change those goals either. It’s important to really allow for growth and maturity that changes one’s opinions and possibly one’s goals. You may be satisfied as a single professional, but what if that one special person turns up next week? Life is a never ending series of events to be experienced. Plan that things will change. Hey, the best part here is that you don’t have to negotiate a “Change Request” for your project – regardless of the budget.
All this is just an exercise in planning and contingency management. My whole point is to get you thinking of your agenda (family, kids, college, retirement, recreation, etc…), as much as you think about your employer’s agenda. It’s great to be the go-to person for an organization, but remember that it’s your future that you’re really working for. Enjoy the trip, don’t let it sneak up on you!