In this article you will learn how to get started with your mid career plan based on 4 insights.
It was Jane Fonda who said life is in 3 acts. Act 1 is from when you’re born to the age of 30 years old. Act 2 is from 30 to 60 years old and Act 3 is from 61 to 90 years old. Before you develop a mid career plan, here’s some truths to consider to encourage you to take action and live the life you imagined for yourself.
1. You Don’t Need to Have a Defined Role for Your Next Career Move
When I decided to make a career change in 2008, I never expected it would lead me to the path I am on today. When I was asked in a job interview in 2008, ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ I said something like ‘I am going to spend the next 5 years working out what I enjoy doing. I want to change the world and am just not sure exactly how I will do this. I will explore a variety of things until I find what fits my skills and goals’.
I want my response to this question to encourage you to dig deep. Please ask yourself these questions:
- What do I want more of?
- What do I want less of?
- What difference do I want to make?
Your answers to these questions can help guide you to your next career move.
While you may perceive my response to the question in the job interview as vague, an essential truth and a key motivator for me is to be the change I wish to see in the world (a mantra borrowed from Gandhi). This drives so much of what I do and relates to the mission for my business – to help people reach their full potential.
What drives what you do?
You don’t need to have a set ‘job’ or ‘role’ that you want to do as you are developing your mid career plan. I believe the more open you are to having a wide range of conversations about your options, the more opportunities will cross your path. The less I try to control the outcome, the more open I am to new possibilities and the more I say yes to opportunities (which at times scares me), the better. This approach has enabled me to create a career for myself, and many clients, where we are pursuing satisfying careers, career changes and new business ventures.
2. Develop a Criteria for Career Happiness
Knowing what ‘happiness’ means to you is also a vital ingredient. I have two teenage boys, and my father in law is part of the loving ‘village’ who help raise them. I mention my father in law, because he once asked me ‘Karen, what is it you want for your boys, and don’t say you want them to be happy’. My father-in-law was born in Russia, survived World War II Germany (minus the hearing in one ear thanks to a bomb that exploded near him), and believes that hard work is the secret to life. In many ways I agree, but in one key way I disagree. You must know what brings you joy.
I believe you need a Criteria for Career Happiness to help set you free from the ‘shoulds’ we all tend to impose on ourselves. This criteria will help you carve out a career plan based on what brings you joy. Here are some examples of question that will help you develop this criteria.
- Do you prefer to work with people or alone?
- In which location would you like to work? (e.g. close to home, CBD, remote)
- What sort of environment would you like to work in? (e.g. office based, out and about)
- What sort of company culture do you work best in? (e.g. corporate, multi-national, family owned, startup, own business)
- What sort of work do you want to be doing?
- What sort of work would you like to avoid?
- What sort of organisation would you like to work for?
- What sort of organisation would you like to avoid?
Developing an idea of what you would actually ENJOY doing, versus what you think you SHOULD be doing is a key factor. While you do need to be realistic about your financial obligations, and consider the competitive nature of the current job market, taking the time to understand what brings you joy is the key to career happiness. It will also help keep you motivated to work at your career action plan.
3. Your Life is Not a Practice Run
Unless you are Buddhist, this life is not a practice run. This is a truth you have probably already realised, but one that is especially important as you enjoy Act 2 of your professional life. Don’t live with regret. Put a line in the sand and say to yourself ‘Today is the first day of the rest of my life’. Make the decision to work towards a change. Take that first step.
4. Be Patient as Change Takes Time
Make a decision to change, pivot, tilt and the logistics WILL fall into place. Once my clients (who span many industries and work at a variety of levels of seniority) believe this truth, they are able to get out of their own way and start to take action and make things happen with their career plan. Your mindset has such a powerful influence on your ability to make a decision and take action. If you understand that change takes time, then you can also seek comfort in this truth and allow yourself (and those around you) to come to terms with some of the ideas you are considering for the next stage of your career journey.