Build a Personal Strategic Plan for Your Career

Many moons ago, at the ripe young age of 32, I felt like a beached whale. Over the first decade of my career, I had been very successful in two different careers, i.e. prep school teaching/coaching and insurance sales. I was very successful. I was miserable. Something was very wrong but I couldn’t figure out what. Being Irish, I blamed myself.

My instinct told me to inventory my background and my skills in order to take control of my career and my life. Three concrete steps came to me.

First, having undergraduate and graduate degrees in Classics, I reverted back to this disciplined training with its many messages of "study the past if you would divine the future." This was the beginning of me taking control of me. So, without much idea of where it might lead me, I wrote a life history. Data! Patterns were noted and genuine insight ensued.

Secondly, I took my in-depth insurance training and applied this to myself. In sales, we had been very well trained (by a great company, the Northwest Mutual) in the following manner:

  1. Understand your product well
  2. Position this product in the marketplace by developing your "ideal prospect"
  3. Build a comprehensive sales strategy (the approach)

I took these three "product marketing" directives and came up with three corresponding questions to relate to my dilemma:

  1. Who am I? (Product Knowledge)
  2. What do I want? (Product Positioning)
  3. How do I get it? (Sales Strategy)

This helped me create a lot of hard data. I came to understand why I was wandering in the desert and began to compile snippets around a picture of the ideal job for me.

Thirdly, I decided to take the pressure off of myself of trying to find the exact next job at age 32 simply because, even armed with all this data, I was still in a fog about the "solution" to my problems. Instead, I decided to try to create the "last job" in my career (age 55-65). I will explain more on this in a later post but it was this exercise that allowed me a way to portray how I would define success on my own terms. The answer was so very simple but it only came by asking the right question.

I knew what I wanted (question two: what do I want) and it was driven from some very comprehensive work on question one (who am I, really?). It was all I needed.

So I was my own first client. This same "front-end piece" is precisely what I have taken thousands of clients through for all these intervening years. Like me, each person starts to "get it" quickly. Momentum is created. A body in motion…

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