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What's Your Professional Theme this year?
I have a simple strategy for how to dramatically level-up your career growth, well-being, and success as a manager, executive or other professional.
Here it is: Take stock of your career situation and the road ahead by first identifying the current career energies driving you now, and second, defining your professional theme(s) or career theme for the coming year.
In order to make progress, take more ownership, and be more intentional about your professional journey, taking stock of your situation and the road ahead is an important step. Your strategies, decisions, and attention will be driven by this theme.
Before I get into the details, I want to share that in my experience working on the careers of thousands of managers, executives, MBAs, etc. over 20+ years, the #1 career growth obstacle people face is the day-to-day demands of work and life. Working “IN” is easier than working “ON” your career.
The problem is that all these demands on your time and attention (working “IN” your career) get you into trouble. Forced career moves. Poor career decisions. Missed opportunities. Time lost in jobs that aren’t a fit.
This strategy helps to solve that problem.
What is a Career Theme or Professional Theme?
Your theme exists at a level higher than your goals. Your career goals will be driven by your dominant professional theme(s).
The Four Energies that Drive Your Next Professional Step
You are experiencing emotions about your career, perhaps explaining why you landed on this article. You are likely experiencing one or more of these four energies in your career right now:
Fear: Energy that often results in staying stuck and preventing forward movement. Or causes scarcity-based decisions.
Pain Relief: Energy that generates sudden, not planned career moves to relieve pain.
Proactive Agitation: Energy towards getting more career clarity and exploring and identifying alternatives for better alignment.
Desire: Energy towards a future something (be / do / have)
These four energies are valuable signals and markers.
The key is that you recognize what you are feeling, process it, and then make a plan and take intentional and strategic action to do something about them.
I want to show you a proven way forward.
I want to ensure that you won’t be like so many who have settled, languished, been left behind, or missed out on a fulfilling and rewarding career journey.
Ready to do something about it? The four energies drive a professional theme that you should be focused on to move forward.
The 5 Professional Themes Driving Your Career This Year
Where are you today and what’s next for you? What kinds of emotions do you experience when you evaluate your professional situation? One of these five themes defines the plan and action you should take to move your career forward. To get into a positive energy zone. As you read through these themes, note that you might see more than one that is relevant.
Consolidating & Deepening
If you feel that you are in a good place professionally (role, level, organization) or have recently started a new role, your theme should involve making a success of your current situation. This can include enhancing your professional capabilities, making a real impact beyond the basic job description, developing key professional relationships and building your reputation.
Expanding & Leaping
If you feel and have evidence that you are ready for your next professional step - a leap forward to the next level, a bigger role, higher performance, a bigger game, then your theme is expansion, growth, and potentially an upward career move.
Creating, Planning & Laying the Groundwork for Future Vision
If you are focused on a future professional vision - self-employment, a creative working retirement or the launch of a passion project, and are ready to take steps to actively explore and start laying the groundwork, your theme involves moving that vision forward.
Changing & Pivoting
If you have identified a desire to proactively pivot to a new type of role, a new industry, or to double down on an area of specialization that you’ve been developing, your theme is taking steps to make that pivot a reality.
Turning-Around & Fixing
If you find yourself in a bad professional situation like unemployment, poor job fit, poor company fit, a sense of insecurity, or a sense that you’re been wandering and not intentional about your career to date, then your theme is about taking the steps to get out of the crisis, improve your professional well-being and put you on a better course. There is power in naming in defining the problem or opportunity. Rather than let another year slip by, take charge by determining where you are at and what’s involved.
How to Take Action on Your Career Theme
Here are the five steps (Note: you could do the first 3 in the next few minutes):
Step 1: Identify the energies driving you right now.
Step 2: Identify your current theme, the one that best represents where you are at today and that aligns with your goals and values. (Note: they all involve forward energy and intent.)
Step 3: Identify your target theme (if applicable) … the one you want to work on once you’ve moved past the first theme.
Step 4: Capture what’s important to make real progress this quarter and this year:
the milestones, and actions to make progress
possible roadblocks…what could hold you back?
what expertise do you need to acquire to ensure the process you follow will get the important results you seek
how can you build in accountability, coaching and support to ensure you make progress and succeed?
Step 5: Take action. Schedule it. Where are you stuck? What professional support do you need to accelerate your progress?
What are your one or two professional themes?
By naming your focus, you can begin to imagine and plan the steps you’ll need to take to move your career journey forward. And have the confidence that you will be focused on what matters.
Would you like to explore how Bold Career’s career coaching, consulting and career services can help you navigate your way forward?
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