New Year and a New Plan
If you are like many people, the beginning of a new year is prompting you to make some changes. New year, better economy…time for a new job? If the thought of leaving your current position has crossed your mind, take control of the process and make it a move that counts. Avoid a knee-jerk reaction to apply for a posted position that catches your eye and start the year fresh with a solid plan for making a strategic change that steers you toward your ideal situation rather than yet another dead end.
Randomly applying to a posted position with a company you know nothing about is much like playing the lottery. Certainly it could turn out to be better than your current situation, but the odds are you’ll simply be trading known issues for new ones. The beginning of a new year prompts many people to evaluate their circumstances. They desire more yet stay stuck on why they want to leave rather than focusing on what they want to move forward to. This year, prepare yourself to make a meaningful and sustainable change of your circumstances. Make the most of your time and resources, by developing a plan for moving forward. The following are some key points for getting started.
Clarify your interests. If you focus only on what you don’t want, you still don’t have a target for what you do want. Establishing a concrete list of what you hope to gain from a new position/employer/business endeavor is the first step to heading in a new direction with favorable results. Refrain from using vague words like “better” or “more” and be as specific as you can be. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to measure or weigh one opportunity against another.
Give it a reality check. Do your research. Learn about today’s conditions rather than relying on memories from ten years ago. Learn how work is getting done and, more importantly, why certain skills are in demand. Know what the market will bear and how your skills/experience measure up to competition. If you need additional training/development to be competitive for your “dream job” or to get your foot in the door with your “dream organization,” then integrate that into your plan. The process from Point A to Point B may seem like it takes longer, but you will probably save time by avoiding attempts at throwing your hat into the ring for work you are not competitive for.
Nurture your network. (Ok, so I say that a lot.) The surest way to learn if a new circumstance will be better than what you are in, or will offer you more of what you want, is by knowing someone who is already in it. And, if you are not an exact fit for the roles you desire, you are much more likely to be considered with the help of a valued internal referral than by submitting a blind application. Use the freshness of the new year as an opportunity to reconnect with people you have lost touch with.
Establish timelines and benchmarks. Don’t just say you want to make a change — act on it and commit. New Year’s resolutions are typically out the window by mid-February because of the failure to create a plan, develop new habits or commit to dates. A vision or image of where you want to be is great! The next step is to make it real by establishing timelines and accountability.
Plan your activities. Unless you have a magic process for adding hours to the clock, you have 24 hours a day and seven days a week to work with. It’s important to plan out what has to be done ahead of time (regular work, doctors’ appointments, special events) and work around that schedule to fit in the work required to make a change. Research (by Internet and through conversations) takes time. It won’t happen unless you plan out when you can do it and stick with it. Break big chunks of work into smaller bites and determine exactly when you will complete them. Don’t leave this to chance, or you will be wondering in June how the time flew when you find you are still exactly where you were in January.
Don’t knee jerk. Many people have taken roles that have left them underemployed or bored, just to pay the bills. If that is your situation, then use it to your advantage. If you can do your job in your sleep, then stay put while you take the time to do the research you need to complete to make an educated decision about changing. Chances are no one is watching you, and you can actually carve out time to talk with people and read about companies/roles that are more to your liking. Watching job boards for the next posting and throwing a resume at something isn’t likely to reap a satisfying or sustainable reward if you are hired before you really know anything about the company, department or role.
As you head into the new year, concentrate on what you want and check out whether it really is for you. Making impulsive gestures based on what you don’t want might bring about a change, but researching and putting together a plan for making that change is much more likely to take you where you want to go.