Personal Effectiveness and Responsibility
Building Career “Fitness”
The notion of looking after your career fitness may appear strange at first, but there’s nothing wrong with pausing periodically to ask yourself some basic questions, such as:
- “How successful am I now (or am I likely to be) in this job role?”
- “How much recognition do I need to feel good about my career?”
- “How do I define my ideal career in the short, medium and long-term?”
- “What kind of activities should I be pursuing to promote a more satisfying job or career?”
Moreover, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with assessing the state of your career on a regular basis and taking the steps that are necessary to ensure that all is well. If you don’t relatively frequently monitor your career health, you may well regret it as you mature in years. This is generally with good reason, because we are often defined by what we do in life. In other words, a person’s state of mind is shaped in large part by the health of his or her career. With so much at stake, it therefore makes a lot of sense to pay attention to your career fitness and to get into good career shape.
Despite often widespread levels of career dissatisfaction, the reality is that most people do very little to help themselves. Rather than taking control of their destiny, they may engage in denial. We often put off addressing our own career health until the very last moment, when we’re already facing a crisis (or our hand is forced by circumstances). Why? Because when it comes to our own careers, we often feel as if we’re all alone. This may sound a little dramatic but in terms of career fitness, we really are alone. No one else can really “career plan” for us.
Making a regular and systematic assessment of career fitness takes much of the guesswork out of personal career management. It encourages, and in fact demands, that you take personal responsibility for your career by looking beyond everyday issues to their root causes. These issues are unique to you – and only you – and are the issues that ultimately contribute to poor career fitness, no matter where you are at the moment. Key questions are therefore things like:
- “Where do I want to go from here?”
- “What are my true abilities – my strongest skills?”
- “What do I really like to do?”
- “How do I know when I’ve achieved success?”
- “How do I know when it’s time to move on from my current job or role?”
- “Should I go into a completely different type of work?”
- “Is part-time work an option?”
- “Should I go back to school/college?”
- “Is active retirement a real option?”
The process of attempting to answer what you ask yourself is what is really important. This effort is likely to enable you to gain greater awareness, better insights, and a higher comfort level about your life’s meaning and purpose.
It is finally also important to bear in mind that your career doesn’t begin and end in the office. Your career is a composite of your work and your wider life in general. You should therefore keep this “bigger picture” in mind as much as you can.