The idea of career development is not just a fancy way to describe your career life. When we talk about development, we are trying to demonstrate there is a process by which someone’s career can develop. Sometimes development is bad or wrong and you need to change directions or reassess your decisions. Other times the development is spot-on and feels right. So how do you assess your career development in order to guide yourself in the right direction?
In order to guide your efforts, one needs to look back at the past decisions they have made and determine if they were good for your career aspirations or a mistake. Most decisions have both positive and negative connotations. You can find the good and bad in any situation. Because of that fact, you should list the each on one side of a piece of paper and see how they stack up. I suggest using a piece of paper because there can be a major difference between what you think and what you see “in reality” on paper. The paper exercise can change your opinion and guide you with logic instead of emotion.
As I look back on my career, I see a lot of great things that have happened to me. Great things such as being in the right place at the right time. This good timing has helped propel my career development in directions I never knew I would enjoy. I took one sales job which I wasn’t sure I wanted and it developed me in ways I was scared to admit. Early in my career I would shy away from things I was scared of and would not try new and potentially exciting things. I let my fears drive me. The one sales job really pushed me to understand who I was and where I was going.
Now at 41 I see that my career moved so quickly instead of planning it out and following my dreams, I sometimes got caught riding the wave I was on. As I get a little older I wish like many I would have taken more risks and tried more things earlier. Now I am still in my prime career timeframe (mid 30’s to 50’s) but what I am seeing is if I am not careful I will let the next 10 to 20 years go by without trying out some things that are a stretch for me. Stretching can be painful but is necessary to experience life’s potential for you.
I guess I am suggesting everyone, no matter who you are or at what age, should put together a plan for your career on paper AND should experiment along the way. I do think you can have the career you had hoped for if you periodically review what you have done and where you are going. Do it once a year and your career development will flourish.
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