As I started to prepare this week’s post, a career coach called and asked me about the goals for my business in 2022. My first reaction was “2022? This is the first full week in November. Do we need to think about that yet?” The answer is yes, whethehttps://my.timetrade.com/book/MD2Z1r we own a business or we are in a job search. The start of 2022 was less than eight weeks away!
Here are a few ideas that came to mind:
- Hope is not a plan,
- A plan is a dream with a deadline, and
- Be prepared to adjust your plan when it proves to be infeasible.
Those of us who have worked in organizations that do a lot of planning may find these statements obvious. Nonetheless, it’s good to remind ourselves of these ideas as we approach the holiday season and the New Year.
Hope is not a plan.
All of us are hoping for great things in 2022 as the Pandemic appears to be easing in many places, and we are gathering in-person for the first time in many months with business acquaintances, co-workers, friends, and family.
Are you hoping for a new job or a new career in 2022? Think about what you are doing now to make that hope a reality.
What can you do this week to make things happen? For example:
- Are there in-person or virtual networking events you will be able to attend during the holiday season?
- What friends and acquaintances in your business or profession can you contact to share holiday wishes with during the season?
- Is there an opportunity to speak with your current leadership about your progress this year and plans for next year?
No doubt you’ll think of many other things you can be doing right now to turn your hopes into plans.
Hope is good. A plan is great.
A public service announcement on TV featured a successful entrepreneur who described a plan as a “dream with a deadline.” You have to set a deadline, she said, to make a dream happen.
Job search is an entrepreneurial and sales endeavor, as discussed in a previous post. You are working for yourself, and have to get it done largely on your own.
Now there is nothing wrong with having aspirations and dreams about getting a better job one day. It’s a good thing to want something better. Coaches and project managers tell us, though, that dreaming is not the most effective way to get results for your job search or career change.
There are many strategies in coaching and project management that will help you turn hopes and dreams of a better job into a plan. For instance, write your plan down, break it down into steps, and assign dates to complete the steps, just as you would for a project at work. You can even use your favorite calendar or project management tool to guide you.
Then tell someone, or several people close to you about your plan. Whether you ask them to hold you accountable or not, you will be more likely to execute your job search plan if you have told other people what you are doing.
If you are not making progress, then consider explicitly asking someone you know to check with you on progress at specific intervals.
My personal favorite strategy as a job seeker was to attend job clubs or networking groups. That spurred me to action each week so I would be ready to contribute at meetings.
Some government programs help with job search accountability. State unemployment insurance rules in New York, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere require job seekers to present proof of job search each week. The number of required job search contacts is, in my view, minimal—three contacts a week in many cases, but the requirement reduces the chance you will do nothing. Use these bureaucratic requirements to help jump-start your efforts when you are out of work.
Your plan should change if it is not feasible.
Another issue I noticed at job clubs and networking groups is that a few participants stuck to an inflexible plan that was not working. A member of my non-profit networking group, for example, wanted to be a controller for a symphony orchestra. He stuck to this plan long after it was clear that there were too few jobs of this kind available in his commuting area. It’s appropriate to change plans when conditions change, or prove to differ from your initial assessment.
Set your goal, break it into steps, and set target dates. Then be ready to change your strategy as needed. Army officers say “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” Other people call this “stuff happens.” (And sometimes they substitute a stronger word for “stuff.”)
An example that too many of us have experienced is unexpected downsizing. Some of us joined large organizations—Fortune 500 corporations, national nonprofits, or public agencies—and anticipated staying for many years. Our career plan probably consisted of working through the organization’s system of training, transfers, and promotions. Then, everything changed for whatever reason. We had to make new plans.
If you can dream it, you can do it.
An executive coach I spoke with several years ago assured me that if I could dream it, I can do it. This is not always literally true, in my opinion, because technological and financial constraints limit what is possible. Explore the dream anyway, and find out what is possible. A sports metaphor suggests “you miss 100% of the shots you do not take.”
So, develop a career strategy, job search, or career communication plan. Then be prepared to change it as conditions change.