You want the job! You feel that this is the career path for you! You go for the interview and impress your interviewer. Next you got the job! You are now at the top of the world.
Then when the natural 'high' of getting the job is over you fall into a rut of things. Your career seems mundane. You feel that there is no more challenge in what you are doing. You feel that perhaps it's time to change your career.
But wait! Can you guarantee that the next career will be an interesting one? Or is history going to repeat itself all over again?
There is no success formula for your career. You are your career. Period! It is what you make out of it. Your career succumbs to the natural law of selection in that if you do not want your career to become extinct than you need to nurture it. To do that you need to adapt to change. As naturalist Charles Darwin puts it: "It is not the strongest nor the most intelligent of the species that survive; it is the one most adaptable to change." To prevent such a catastrophic extinction of your career you need to create your own personal vision and as management 'guru' Stephen R Covey mentions as one of the habits of highly effective people to "begin with the end in mind."
Once you got the career you want you need to create a short-term, mid-term and a long-term career plan.
Short-term Career Plan
A short-term career plan can be from six months to two years. Here you can maximize your potential by learning everything about your trade, networking and understanding your roles, responsibilities and function in your career. This is also a volatile period in your career as others might intend to topple you or the challenges you face might seem overwhelming and impossible.
There is a saying which goes: "Just when you see the light at the end of the tunnel it turns out to be an on-coming train." This means that you need to be very clear and focus on what you really want if you are going to come out of the 'tunnel'. Otherwise you are going to get run over by the 'on-coming train' which represents all the resistance and oppositions that you will face in your career.
Mid-Term Career Plan
Your mid-term career plan can be three to five years. By now you should be professionally competent in your job. You might be highly efficient in what you are doing but the question is whether you are highly effective as well.
Efficiency is basically about doing things right. Being effective is doing the right things right. This means that you need to continuously analyse your original career goals to see whether they are still relevant in your industry. Staying relevant and able to respond effectively to the changing environment is crucial to your career success. Mr Lee Kwan Yew succinctly said: "It's the ability of a people to respond quickly to the unexpected that decides whether they survive, or they are swept aside by events."
This is the period where boredom begins setting in as you start enveloping yourself in a comfort zone. The original sweet taste of success starts to wither away and you feel that you are in the rut. Just like an aging car, your need to do a complete overhaul if need be to make sure that your performance is still intact.
Long Term Career Plan
Your long-term career plan is anything from five years and beyond. There's the danger that you might get entrenched in your comfort zone such that it will become difficult to manage your career. Further you may find yourself having the fear of redundancy. If you are unable to make the changes necessary and take charge of your career you may very well be writing your own career epitaph.
This is the time you need to "rewire" yourself. Throw out the old school of thoughts if you have to and embrace the new work philosophy. Accept and adopt new ways of doing things, attend relevant training courses, learn a new skill and keep identifying new business avenues to exploit.
This might all sound exceedingly insurmountable; however it is easier to make small changes in gradual steps then making one giant leap. Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh said: "Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."
This is the time when you can be an inspiration to others. Engage yourself in a transfer of your knowledge. When you teach you learn. And most importantly remain teachable. When you've come this far you might be fearful of failure and this kills your entrepreneurial spirit.
Be receptive in trying new things in every aspect of your life. Do not be afraid of failure. You may not succeed at first but as Lloyd Jones said: "The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try nothing and succeed."
Dr Daniel Theyagu