Discovering and Mapping Your Career Path
VP Product Strategy at Optum
Career path is always an interesting topic. Many folks struggle with where they are and where they want to go. Are you accelerating enough in your current position? Are you making enough money where you are? Should you stay in your current company or look for industry opportunities? Would you feel better working for a startup or an enterprise? How do you meet your desire to grow and develop? These are valid questions to ask yourself. What I find works best, though, is breaking things down and evaluating your career path based on five particular fields, The Five P's.
One of the foundational areas to really think about is what's your purpose? Go through and think about what you want to do both in the short-term and the long-term. Take the time to reflect on what is important to you, what excites you, and what your passions are.
Additionally, determine what type of lifestyle you want. It could be working at a startup for 15 hours a day with the potential for a great outcome for your family in the long run, or are you looking to create a lifestyle job where working long hours is not ideal nor desired. The broad scope of productivity level is unique to each individual and must be considered when working on your career path.
Also, decide on the type of people want to have around you. This may have a lot to do with your company, because that is the career path you are on, but it also has a lot to do with your family and friends. It's imperative that you make a conclusion about these first three things - purpose, productivity, and people - so that you know which direction you are headed and which folks to have around you so that you will be inspired to discover and driven towards your desired career path.
Next, think about who you are as a brand. What is your presence within your company, within your community, and within your family? Are you mission-driven or socially driven? What is your presence among the things that are important to you? People tend to be hyper-focused on thinking about just their career but really you are building a life, not simply a career. So when you are branding yourself you must think about your presence holistically. Life is a beautiful mix of work and play and it is how you decide to put those things together that makes your career path yours. Therefore, when gathering information about you as a brand, focus on a multitude of areas where you have a presence and begin to formulate a plan from there.
Once you are pointed towards your purpose, know your level of productivity, reflected on the people you want to have around you, and determined your presence, now you must take the time to map it all out. Long-range planning is a good methodology and a great place to start. It will help with not only long-term but short-term planning as well. First, write down and set your goals. Then, brainstorm what you need to do now to achieve those goals. Those steps that you need to do now to get to where you want to be may entail learning new tools, enrolling in a training program, or getting certified in a new arena, among many others. Take advantage of opportunities, whether they are inside or outside your company. Simultaneously, be sure to incorporate your personal life so that you are balancing the two - career life and personal life. Look at what you want to achieve across all dimensions of life and how you want to spend your time and effort, then put a plan in place that blends them together in terms of now, next, and the future.
- At a deeper level, what I do is create a design statement and design principles for myself. These act as a guiding lights as I explore and create my career path. For example, one of my design principles is that I want to create massive value for other people. This may have nothing to do with my career and yet everything to do with it. But it's a principle that never wavers. So even if there is some dramatic shift in my life or my career, I reflect and make decisions based off of that "north star" design principle.
- By mapping out these five areas and creating a plan, you essentially create a roadmap for your future.
- After I have created my long-range plan I sit down annually and spend a day accessing my situation. I look over my overall plan, I document what I achieved in that year, determine what is going to change in the upcoming year, then make adjustments to my existing plan to match that. Also, on a weekly basis I am capturing what I am doing. More so, quarterly I will look at what I and my team have achieved and consider how all of these aspects fit into my long-term plan. I so by capturing all of this information in a simple word document.
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VP Product Strategy at Optum
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