People go through stages in their careers and it is very interesting to coach young upcoming professionals (yuppies as we call them) who are in or approaching the peak of their careers. Indeed, this is the time that professionals are most marketable, most attractive, and most busy.
I have worked with organizations in developing succession plans and career management systems that cater to the demographics of its employees. In as much as companies choose the best career plan to retain and develop them, employees must take charge of their own professional development. At the end of the day, the company would be most interested in their bottom line rather than your personal growth.
It is important for these yuppies to note that although they must strike while the iron is hot, they must also prepare strategically for when the sun sets down on their career. How do you take advantage of this momentum in your career in order to leverage yourself into your advanced years?
1. Look back at where you have been so far and make a note of your progress from one position to the next that got you to where you are now. How does the development look like? Was it smooth and logical—i.e., moving up from one position to the next higher one in the same field or job class? Was it expanding like moving from a simple job to an enriched and broader responsibility within the same area of expertise? It is important to look at where you’ve been so you would know how to get to where you want to be.
2. If you haven’t done so, identify and write your career end goal.? How do you see yourself when you are 55 and just a few laps away from retirement? How do you see yourself when you retire? What is the lifestyle you’re looking to have at these stages in your life? As Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.” Your vision will carry you through to rough patches in your career. It will give you the impetus to work harder when you don’t have to. It will rouse you from complacency and will give you the energy to push yourself more than what is expected of you.
3. Finally, map out your strategy. Which industry, which company, and which position would lead me to the next job that would in turn lead me to the next and that would lead me to my vision of career success? How long should I stay in each position and company to get the best mileage in my career; i.e., the best training time opportunity and the best amount of time that I could contribute back to the company everything that I know? After all, employment is a symbiotic process: you should get the most out of it and the company should make the most out of what you offer.
You see, being at the peak of your career is no picnic. The urge to rest on your laurels is high and this is the mistake that most people do. The truth is, this is the best time to get into a new wave of upward slope rather than just sit back and wait for the downward incline that naturally comes after peaking into your highest saleable point.