When was the last time you had your car serviced? Six months…a year…two years? You’ve probably done it more recently than two years, because you want to make sure your car continues to operate reliably and get you where you need to go. Something similar could be said about your career management strategy. You can’t expect it to continue serving you well if you don’t take good care of it and change it when needed.
Reevaluate Your Career Mapping Strategy
Before you dive into making strategy changes, you need to look at why you created the strategy and determine whether circumstances have changed significantly. For example, if you designed your strategy to move from Marketing Manager to VP of Marketing and you currently hold that position, your strategy served its original purpose. However, it’s now out of date. Or maybe you were aiming for CEO of a startup and have since found that family requirements make that an impractical goal for now. In that case, your existing career management strategy needs a tune-up, to say the least. To switch metaphors a bit, think about tackling a high-altitude mountain climb. If you don’t have your climb strategy in shape, it’s a recipe for disaster. Similarly, relying on an outdated career management strategy could land you in a crevasse instead of on the mountain peak!
So You Say You Need a New Strategy?
If you’ve reached the conclusion that you need a new career management strategy, is now the time? If not, why not? Immediate action is not always the best plan. Sometimes there’s a sound reason to hold off on reinventing your strategy. For instance, if you’re in the middle of a time-and-energy-absorbing project that’s critical for your company, do you really want to pull part of your attention away from that and attempt to redefine your career strategy? On the other hand, it’s not necessarily wise to postpone a decision like that indefinitely. After all, your work could involve one big activity or crisis after another. Why is this a problem? For starters, it could result in putting off development of a new career management strategy long enough to precipitate a crisis of another sort—such as suddenly needing to make a move of some kind and having no clue about the best approach to take…because you have no suitable strategy in place.
Trusting to Luck for Your Strategy
As the saying goes, “Luck is not a strategy.” Successful mountaineers don’t trust to luck, although they can certainly experience it. Unfortunately, if they don’t take the necessary precautionary steps, bad luck is the kind they’re most likely to experience. That’s why they make sure they’re well prepared to tackle the challenge. If your goal is to “reach the peak”—keep your career on a winning path in terms of finding, capturing, and retaining positions that fit your idea of career success—it’s critical to determine the best time to revamp your career management strategy and then map out a plan that enables you to accomplish that.
If Now is the Time, What’s Next?
You’ve evaluated your existing strategy and determined that it needs changing. You’ve decided that you can’t afford to let things slide and keep going the way you are for an indefinite period. Now is definitely the time to refresh your strategy. So what’s next? Ask yourself a few key questions, such as:
- Where do I want to head next—in the long term as well as short term?
- Can or should I keep any of the existing strategy elements in place? If so, which ones?
- What isn’t in the strategy now that needs to be in order to support my new goal?
- How am I going to find or make the time to give the strategy revamp the attention it needs?
- Who else do I need to consult or seek help from to make it all happen?
The answers to those questions should give you some excellent pointers as to when and how to plunge into refreshing your career management strategy and enable you to complete it in the most effective way possible. And, remember, career success requires a strategy and a plan, but sometimes it also requires the courage to take a big step, even if you can’t be 100% certain of the outcome. To give yourself the best odds for success, make sure your strategy is in top shape before you take that step.