I was crossing a busy street in Dublin’s city centre recently. I stepped out to cross behind a double-parked van. Thinking better of it, I retreated and found a pedestrian crossing nearby.
I recently noticed a remake of an add that informed me as a kid on pedestrian safety. Anyone else remember the ‘Safe Cross Code’? For those unfamiliar to it, it was a six-step guide to crossing the road safely. Whatever about recalling the six steps, I can easily remember the first step, ‘look for a safe place’. It’s clearly had a lasting impression on me.
I’ve been wondering of late would we benefit from a career equivalent of the Safe Cross Code. We could call it the ‘Career Choice Code’. This code would provide us with a process for making good career decisions. I’ve a bit of work to do to finalise all the steps (this blog entry will help me). However, the first step would probably be ‘look for the right option’.
We are more often that not busy in work. Pursuing the next sales target, project milestone, promotion etc. So busy that we forget to check whether what we are pursuing is linked to what we really want in our career.
Some years ago I was pursuing a promotion. I worked hard to build my case. However, I came up short. Looking back, it’s a great example of where I could have benefitted from a Career Choice Code.
The work I was doing at the time was something I felt little personal connection to and got limited enjoyment from. However, I saw the opportunity of a promotion and straightaway got caught up in the chase. I should have taken a step back and acknowledged the lack of connection (with hindsight, this lack of connection impacted on my performance). I should then have assessed what I felt was the right career option for me. And decided whether what I was doing at the time was of benefit to that direction (with reflection, it was).
Would taking the time to do this reflection have changed the outcome of my promotion? I don’t know. It would definitely have helped put the work into context of my career direction. And I know looking back, that would have given me reassurance that the experience, irrespective of the promotion, was beneficial for me. It definitely would have helped my performance too.
There is always going to be things for us to pursue in work. It’s important for us to take a step back every now and again. To apply step one of the Career Choice Code to our own story. So that we ensure that what we are pursuing is connected to, or at least can be of value to, a career path that we feel happy with.
When is the last time you gave yourself time to step back and ask, ‘is what I am pursuing linked to the right career option for me?’
Today’s as good a day as any.