Career Reset

Every once in a while, you reach a point in your work and your life when it’s time to drill down to the bedrock of who you are and what you want to be. Once there, you can begin to build up a new plan, strategy, and commitment to help you arrive at the destinations that really matter to you.

Here’s a simple formula for doing this:

Assess Yourself

“If you don’t know where you’re going,” said the famous baseball player and part-time philosopher Yogi Berra, “you’ll end up someplace else.”

What he didn’t say is that the key to knowing where you’re going is first finding out who you are. Why? Because knowing your strengths and weaknesses, values and ideals, preferences and tastes, desired directions for growth, patterns and modes of behavior all factor into whether your work and your life seem meaningful, satisfying, and successful.

The more fully you recognize and accept these elements of who you really are, and the more accurately you can align with them your actions and your choices, the better you’ll feel about where you’re going – and your satisfaction when you get there.

Set a New Direction

It’s not always possible to pivot the work and the life you’ve already established toward a new direction that’s better aligned with who you are and what you want to achieve. But – particularly in times of great personal unhappiness and/or exciting opportunity – it’s important to try.

Think in terms of how you’d like to envision the future:

  • What purpose(s) would you most like to accomplish?
  • What activities would you most like to pursue?
  • What experiences would you most enjoy?
  • With whom (particular individuals or categories of people) would you most like to spend time?
  • For what would you most like to be known and appreciated?

Create a New Plan

Based on the direction you’d like to set, your next step is to find ways to realize your updated vision for the future. This requires an implementation plan laying out the specific actions you will take to move toward your newly established goals and newly desired accomplishments.

Your new plan should include the answers to such questions as:

  • What must you do to achieve your desired results?
  • How will you position yourself to complete these actions?
  • How much time will you spend on each of these actions?
  • How will you measure your progress within this plan?
  • Where will you obtain any needed support for this plan?
  • How often will you re-evaluate the plan and make needed changes?

Master the Tools

Most new plans involve at least some new tools, techniques, and knowledge. Mastering the use of these elements is nearly always crucial to successfully pursuing the plan.

That‘s why it’s important you consciously consider how to move forward, rather than just helicopter into a new situation and hope to generate some immediate success.

Mastering the tools may involve:

  • Going to school, getting some training, or apprenticing yourself to an expert who can teach you.
  • Acquiring and absorbing the fundamentals of specific knowledge, tools, and techniques.
  • Practicing what you’re trying to learn in a setting where errors yield no terrible consequences.
  • Developing sufficient expertise to attack the steps involved in your plan.

Strengthen Your Team

As I have in the past. I’m once again suggesting your success is nearly always tied up with other people’s efforts and cooperation. Part of a productive career reset, then, is a wide-ranging consideration of your team: who is currently part of it, and who should be.

You may find that your current team is perfectly well suited to your new direction and the plan for moving forward. If not, this is the right time to consider making changes, including:

  • Cultivating new people to join the team.
  • Easing unsuitable team members off the roster, or at least relying less on them and their contributions.
  • Encouraging particular team members to upgrade their abilities and contributions, as may be necessary and appropriate.
  • Making better and more frequent use of your team.

Commit to the Long Haul

All these elements of a career reset are important, but none so much as a simple commitment to stay with the new direction, plan, tools, and upgraded team.

Just like a New Year’s Resolution, a career reset you abandon soon after you make it does you little or no good. Even a minor career reset, however, can produce major improvements if you stick with it long enough.

This idea is symmetrical, too, because I’m not advocating you initiate a career reset every month or every year. You may go five, ten, even 20 years before you reset your direction and your plans. Once you attempt a reset, however, you’ll find it’s extremely beneficial to follow-through with full intention and effort – perhaps all the way to your next career reset, whenever that may be.

It’s not easy to take any of these steps, but if you feel the time is right and you put in the required time and effort, you can use them to trigger a full-throated career reset that will help you find a great deal more meaning, productivity, and success in the years to come.

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