I love a good roadmap. Because you can purposefully work through them and get somewhere. That’s why the four areas of this blog have Roadmaps (or will have, it depends when you are reading this!) This is the roadmap for “Career”.
Now, that is a big subject. Lots of different careers, lots of ways to build one, maybe even 2 or 3 in a working life nowadays. The idea of this is to help you take action to have one – a career rather than a job. And this is a long post, especially for me, because there is a bit of background as well as the steps and a little summary of each.
In the “why the f*ck should I listen to you?” post I briefly covered the fact that when it comes to careers, I am speaking from solid first-hand experience. Because I really did leave school at 16 with mediocre qualifications, earn less than £100 for years (£40 a week for the first 2 years) but eventually pulled myself together (after nearly getting fired). And then I went on to be a Director of a multibillion-pound international business by the time I was 38. I worked this career game out and did OK out of it!
And as I am sure I have said somewhere before, for the greatest part of your wealth-building life, your biggest earner is YOU. Yes, we all want investments to take over the hard work or that side hustle (blog anyone?) to do the financial heavy lifting. But the harsh reality is that most people make most of their money from their job. If we want FI, or FI:RE, or just to retire at 68 whatever without living in poverty, we need to earn and invest our way while we are working. And that’s why we should be purposeful in our work.
The way I did it took a few years to develop once I finally decided I had to pull myself together and do something about it myself. I tried A LOT of shit. I watched a lot of videos. Read a lot of books. Made a lot of spreadsheets and plans. But it wasn’t until I really understood more about me, the skills I had, what I liked and didn’t, what caused me stress and unhappiness and what motivated and excited me, that I could develop a career. I knew what I could do, what I wanted, and how to get there. Honestly? I didn’t even know I wanted a career until I was about 28….
If you want a good career, you have to WANT to do that career. I often take the piss out of people who say it’s all about passion, because that’s generally bullshit, but there IS a grain of truth in there. If you are doing something you hate, you are never going to engage with it enough to have a career. Been there, done that. And that’s what led to the near firing mentioned above. But that’s another story….
Do you REALLY want a career?
Let’s be honest, not everyone wants a career. Some people just want a job. That’s fine, there is a serious lack of recognition for those who want to just do their job well. Other people, like me, use a career to get to a certain place and then just want to keep a job at that level. Because there are C suite jobs above mine, and I have more than 20 years left at work before normal retirement age, I could go after those. I don’t because I just don’t want to. I enjoy what I do, and I am bloody good at it, and I want to keep doing it. The top jobs just don’t look as much fun to me. But it needed this process for me to get to that understanding.
What did I do?
As I said, it took years to bring this all together, and it wasn’t really a process when I did it. But when I tried to turn it into something to work through, it turned out to be 13 steps. I know, that isn’t very lean and mean, which is what the internet really likes. And not very catchy because everyone wants a “5 steps to…” or “achieve….in 7 easy steps”. I wish I had that, but I don’t. I could probably play with this and make it easier, cleaner, shorter. But then I don’t think it would work. So, you are stuck with 13. #sorrynotsorry.
The 13 Steps
- Personal vision
- Hobbies & passions
- Transferable skills and knowledge
- Creating career goals and aims
- What opportunities are there
- Where are the gaps
- Creating an action plan
- Finding a guide
- Reviewing progress
I know 13 steps is a lot. Well, it’s not really. You are just used to stupid listicles that clickbait you by making everything look easy. Sucker. And if you are superstitious, 13 steps look unlucky. But I am not, so I don’t care there are 13. This is a fucking career we are talking about. Anyone who says it’s easy is totally full of shit. There aren’t any shortcuts, unless of course, mummy and daddy set you up for life. And I can’t write an in-depth detailed explanation of all 13 here, so this will be a series that I will put together over the next few months (hopefully less) that will explain each of the steps.
The steps are as much about you as they are about your job, because the critical thing I found is that ‘most’ people can’t do a great job until they know themselves, what they are good at, and what both holds them back and inspires them onwards.
If you wanted 5 actions to take to get a 25% raise or some other shit, this one isn’t for you. Otherwise, here is a little bit about each step, and as I produce them, the link to the more detailed post on the subject with actions to take.
This is one I am passionate about and get really frustrated when people post a load of shit about it. We don’t all have the same values, there isn’t a core set we all share. There aren’t 5 different layers of values, I’m sorry, but that is just made up. If you find 20 people with the same values, you probably need to add a wider group of friends into your life, because we thrive in diversity. Values are critical to your wellbeing, and understanding what your values are, and being able to look at the values of a current or potential employer, will let you find out how you align or don’t to that business. Getting this misaligned will totally fuck you up. We need to find out what your actual values are.
Anchors are my thing. This was something that totally changed my life. Seriously. This was the biggest thing that I understood about myself that explained why I was SO unhappy a few times in my life. Values conflict will make you a mess. But combine that with anchors being a problem and you are screwed. Really screwed. You will be crap at your job, miserable in life, and not worth shit to anyone. Again, we need to find them and understand what that they really mean to you, and your nearest and dearest, to understand how some jobs really fuck you up!
One thing to note here is that a few people messaged me to point out that “Anchors” is also one of the psychological biases. Well, it’s not. That’s “Anchoring” and is a different thing, but here is a link if you want to see what that means.
Hobbies & Passions
How does this affect your career? Well, if you hate your job, it’s harder to do. If you have no passion for your day to day work, do you have a job, or are you building a career? You need to work out what sparks joy in your life – a bit like a Marie Kondo for your soul! It’s all part of knowing yourself a little better. And knowing some of the shit you can get out of your life. See? I drag a bit of minimalism in here as well…….
What inspires you? What elates you? What do you want to achieve in the world? What is your purpose? It could be ending world hunger (said every Miss World, every year, ever) or being the best possible parent and bringing up well adjusted happy children. NO judgment – it’s your life, I just want to help you find the purpose of it, and then we start to build work around it!
This is the stuff you already have – your education, your skills, your knowledge, experience. But also, what you hate, because I for one don’t want to end up in a career I hate (again, been there, done that, it sucks). This is all about what you have at your disposal now. I have a little tool to help you bring those out.
This is a bit self-reflective – what do you think people think of you? What would they say about you if they were asked honestly? It’s tough because we see our perception of ourselves ALL the time, but others only see us at certain times, and they all have a different idea of “you” and what you are, do, believe, and how you behave.
Transferable skills & knowledge
This takes a bit of thinking about – it’s what you do now that you could do in another role just as well. If you are an accountant you are probably good with numbers, so you could use that being a quantity surveyor. If you manage a team of people, well that’s managing a team of people wherever you are. All the soft skills are the same. Good with management systems? Auditing? Some technical skills? Working with customers? Presentations? It’s all the bits that you can already sell as things you know how to do.
Creating career goals and aims
Pretty simples. We work out where you want to be. Realistically and a little aspirational. Not super specific, but it helps to know where you want to get to find the way there.
What opportunities are there?
Time for a bit of blue sky thinking, to get outside the box. Or, if you don’t want to speak consultant bullshit, look at possible jobs. We know a lot about you, what you are good at, what motivates you, and what you love and hate doing. Time to explore some of those opportunities and see where you want to go. This could be quick, or you could spend ages on it and really explore lots of things. I recommend spending some time on it. It’s worth it.
We will also look to see if they help you on your route.
Where are the gaps?
There will be gaps. Skills, knowledge, experience, qualifications. All of these can be fixed. But we need to know what they are and how to fix them, and crucially in what order. Because doing one action may benefit three or four areas, so let’s get the bang for our buck where we can.
Creating an action plan
What it says on the tin. Actions. In a plan. To get somewhere.
Finding a guide
A guide, a mentor, an advocate. They changed my world and I never paid a penny for that help. The people who can help like that are out there. It’s finding the right one and in the right place. Sometimes more than one helps. I reckon I had three at the same time at one point, who were doing different things for me. Huge help.
YOU have to review this. See what’s working or not, where you are short, or if things change. I am 7 years into using the output from this process and every few years it tweaks a little and I take a few actions. Plan – do – check – act. Fuck. Something from working in quality management 20 years ago stuck in my mind, but it’s true.
There you go – 13 steps. And I will add at least one post supporting each of these steps with a little more information as I develop the blog. If you want to know when those posts come out, please sign up for updates – no spam, no adverts. Just purposeful information.