At the start of each new year, it pays to reflect on what transpired over the previous year and make plans for the new year to become a better version of our self or to achieve a goal (called a resolution). It is even more significant when it is the start of a new decade, because we have so much to look forward to building over the next 10 years, so that by the time 2029 comes around, we can report many new and significant accomplishments. And there is no more significant accomplishment than our career!
A person should have two to three career growth spurts in the course of a decade. This is because it normally takes a person between two to five years to be fully competent and contributing in a given job. After that, (s)he is ready to move on. The move can be internally within the current company, or externally to another company. Notwithstanding that, the move must be a step up along the career ladder that one has planned for oneself. Of course, that presupposes that we do have a set of career goals for ourselves! So, what are your career goals for the new decade?
“Wait!” you think. “You mean we need to do a career goal not just for the new year, but for the whole decade?”
The short answer is yes and here’s 4 reasons why…
(1) Careers don’t change as fast as other goals
While goals like losing weight, giving up smoking, or taking up a course can be achieved within one year, career changes do (should) not happen as fast. Due to the other reasons as we shall uncover later, it is common for people stay in a position for about two and half to five years. Any sooner might suggest that the person was not a good fit for the position, or could not handle the corporate culture. Either is not good for someone building a strong career profile. There are, of course, exceptions. These include those who are considered “high potentials”, who typically stay in one position for 1.5 to 2 years. But their resume would reflect this as they jumped up the career ladder and assumed significantly higher responsibilities with each jump. But even then, the timeline is more than one year, hence we must take a multi-year viewpoint when dealing with career goals.
(2) There is usually a learning phase for all new jobs
When you get to a new position, it is very rare that you can contribute 100% from the get-go. Even if you had been hired from within the industry, you will need some time to be fully functioning. There are many things to learn, new relationships to forge, politics to navigate, processes to adhere to, systems to abide by. While it would take about 3 to 6 months to fully understand the processes and systems, it would take a lot longer for the other aspects of the job. To be fully functional and to be “one of the boys”, you would certainly need between 1.5 to 2 years. Once you have taken all these on board, you can then start to look to move, either within the company or outside of it. Again, this is a multi-year perspective.
(3) You need to show some element of stability
Let’s just assume that you can indeed learn all the ropes and operate at a high level within a year, you still might not want to move so soon. This is because you need to provide some element of stability to you and your family; as well as to your employer. It is only when you are highly competent at the job will you begin to appreciate it for what it offers, and for you to enjoy yourself. Don’t put yourself in such career stress by moving to a new position, especially in a new company, just as you are settling down in your current job. Enjoy it for a while before you head off to build that new career layer. Your potential new employer would also feel a little more assured if you had given 3 to 5 years of your talent to each company; then they can safely expect you to do the same for them!
(4) You need to have participated in, and completed, some projects
A very important part of building your career repertoire is the participation in projects; especially to see to it has been successfully completed. Take an active role in the project, take responsibilities, make crucial decisions, lead teams. This shows that you are active in creating value beyond your normal 9-to-5 job and you embrace the learning mindset as you uncover new ways of doing things. Make sure that you note down the value that will bring to your new employer, and how you can translate that to tangible benefits for them! Again, this will need time, sometimes a year, many times more than that.
As you can see, having a career resolution for 2020 is more than just a one-year plan; in essence it would be a 3- to 5-year one. But why stop there? Since this is the start of the new decade, shoot for a 10-year career plan, which would undoubtedly include one or two new career jumps. I know, you won’t know what the future holds, and what we plan for may be totally different from what we end up doing. That may be true. But that does not absolve you from not doing any planning because opportunity favours the prepared. Hence, if you prepare yourself to jump in your career, you will achieve it, one way or another. Take it from me; I have been having massive career jumps over the past 20 years! And they did not happen without a concerted effort to make it happen!
So here’s to your career success for the new decade. May you achieve more than you ever dreamed possible – because even that is possible!