What’s your next move? Where? When? How? Why? If you don’t have a career plan, any decision will get you somewhere, just not the best place.
One of the more difficult transitions is from the military to a civilian search. Why? It’s a totally different world. While in the military, many decisions are made for you. The civilian marketplace is different. You have to decide what you want to do, where, plan a strategy, target and contact potential employers, convince them that you’re the best person, interview, negotiate an offer, move to a new location and take the risk you’ve made the right decision. It’s a daunting time.
In the private sector, you have to take the initiative. Your boss is most interested reaching his or her goals, not yours. You come secondarily and only if it supports the short-term objectives of the department. The boss is not primarily focused on your career. Counting on your boss to manage your career is not a good idea. The boss has goals for his or her career and you may or may not fit those plans.
You need to answer the fundamental question, “Where do I want to be in 5 or 10 years? Doing what?” Once you have a general idea, then define the steps you need to take, no matter how many, to achieve that goal. Then zero in on the next step to begin the climb. The progressive steps may shift over time, but the direction will become clearer. Generally speaking, from ages 20 to 30 your exploring different jobs and career possibilities. From ages 30 to 40 your getting the responsibilities and performance results that set you up for the big push. Between ages 40 to 50 you have maybe one or two more shots at achieving your optimal career goal. After that it’s more luck than strategy.
Be careful you’re not following what your parents years ago determined was your best career. What was thought to be a “safe” job or function when you were in college may not be the place for you 20 years later. Most successful and satisfied people follow their passion and do the things that they love. Those are the things that you are most likely to be highly successful in doing.
What’s your passion? What’s your next step forward? Who can help achieve it?
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