Given dramatic economic and workplace changes, modern career paths often zig and zag, rather than following traditional linear paths. Springboarding from one or more jobs or careers, you may find you’re not quite where you want to be, or wonder how you can develop a lasting vision and roadmap for success.
In line with the adage, “find something you love to do, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” it’s important to align your work with your core values and purpose and have a plan in place should the unexpected happen. In doing so, and recognizing your non-negotiables, you can create a solid foundation to withstand changing markets and uncertain times.
Over the past 14 years, Molly Champagne has used this foundation to help graduates and professionals to succeed at all stages of their careers. Today, as Internal Careers Senior Recruiter, Americas at Hudson RPO, Molly connects individuals with rewarding opportunities in sectors including financial services, life sciences, energy, manufacturing, and retail.
Looking back over the years, Molly shares her wisdom and tips on how to balance your personal and professional goals, while navigating inevitable twists and turns over the course of your career.
Outdated Career Notions
First, it’s important to recognize outdated career beliefs which no longer serve us well in the workplace. Here are three notions Molly suggests we toss for greater success:
- Your job defines you.
- Formal education is the only way to a rewarding career.
- Staying with one company for your entire career is the most reliable bet.
Investing in Your Career Portfolio
With those notions behind you, you can build a strong career portfolio and professional network to help future-proof your career. While it can be challenging to step outside of your comfort zone, or to take on more work or education, actively doing so helps to secure a more sustainable career.
Be strategic in the opportunities you seek out, so they align with your values and the kind of work you enjoy and want to be doing. Viewed as an investment in your career, you want to be intentional to create a well-rounded, versatile portfolio. The more you can demonstrate a measurable impact resulting from your efforts, the more you stand to gain. Molly suggests the following areas as examples:
- Filling a need, gap, or talent shortage at work to help your company save time and money.
- Demonstrating strengths in arenas that ladder up to measurable business goals.
- Acquiring transferable skills and knowledge to leverage during market swings or downturns.
Making Time for Yourself & Your Career
With a busy work schedule or the pressures of caregiving or other demands, it can be challenging to make time for professional development and your career. That said, even a few small steps can make a big difference. Molly shares her tried-and-true tips:
- Use a calendar. Block off time for learning, breaks, medical appointments, and other priorities. Remember to block time out for yourself as well.
- Overcommunicate. Communicate early and often about your needs, deadlines and times when you are unavailable. Provide regular reminders verbally or in writing (such as your email signature), to help keep upcoming blocks top of mind.
- Plan out your day in advance. Make a list every day at 4 p.m. of what you need to get accomplished the following day. This lessens morning confusion and saves brain time in order to execute priorities quickly.
- Manage up. Remember how others work, so that you can proactively address questions before the eleventh hour, or when you’re unavailable.
- Protect your personal time. Protect your time off to focus on learning, volunteering, or advancing your career. Be sure to make time to take care of yourself.
- Set goals. Outline what you want to accomplish in a given timeframe and review your progress often. If things aren’t working out, be ready to make changes to realize your goals.
Navigating Changing Tides
No matter how hard you work, or how hard you try, it’s likely there will be times when your best work and efforts are susceptible to changing tides. Should the unexpected happen, flexibility and planning ahead of time can help to carry you through. As Molly says,
- Be open to a reduced salary in order to stay on track with your goals.
- Focus on what you can control, and set aside what you can’t.
- Be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.
- Have a long-term savings plan.
- Try to cover three to six months of expenses, and have an emergency fund.
- Follow Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps. Don’t live outside of your means, or try to keep up with the Joneses.
The Power of Positivity in Your Career
Truth be told, investing in your career takes time, energy, and resources, which you may or may not have in abundance. Staying positive and surrounding yourself with others who share your same mindset can help to overcome limitations, particularly during difficult times.
To keep your spirits up, Molly recommends bringing outside inspiration in. Read inspiring books, listen to engaging podcasts, or spend time with others who keep a positive mindset. Remember to take care of yourself — set an alarm to help you to remember to get up, drink water, or eat something healthy.
Also allow yourself time to enjoy doing what you love. Prioritize your time wisely, set realistic goals, and be mindful of all that you’re working to achieve. Always remember to keep things fun. If you are not enjoying your job, look at working in a different way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or to say no when you’re not able to tackle additional tasks or projects.
Taking the Next Step
Looking to get more out of your career, and your career journey? Explore careers at Hudson RPO.