Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How Do You Make Informed Career Choices?

Career choices depend on your definition of career success. Career success is personal, about more than money, and best defined by the legacy you want to build.

Making informed career choices are key to career success. While attending the Indiana University Entrepreneurship Connection Conference, I was fascinated by Mark Albion’s keynote address. By gathering information through hundreds of interviews and conversations he has had with MBAs and other business professionals over the past 30 years, Mark Albion has written seven books that outline frameworks and provide insightful stories to help students and professionals articulate their own career success definition, and secure opportunities that align with their definition of career success. In addition, Dr. Albion has co-founded seven social ventures to help students and professionals connect with like-minded professionals around the goal of using business skills and principles to alleviate our world’s suffering. The most recognized social venture that Dr. Albion co-created is Net Impact, a network of 15,000 MBA professionals and students that currently include over 279 chapters around the world.

The panel followed Dr. Albion’s address. The panel, moderated by Dr. Kuratko, included faculty (Siri Terjesen and Jeff McMullen) as well as Dr. Albion, and Susan Maupin, Marketing Director at Stonyfield Farm. Many of the attendees’ questions gravitated around a definition of career success. What is career success? What choices would be best to you to reach your career goals and achieve career success? From Mark’s keynote and the panel that followed, here are a few tips for you to best articulate your goals, and create a career development roadmap to pursue values-filled professional opportunities that align with your definition of career success:

  • Success is Personal – One of the most common ways for professionals to define their career (and life) success is to answer the question ‘how do you want to be remembered?’ By defining what you would like people to say about you went you are no longer there, you can really get at the essence of who you want to become. The definition of who you want to become then becomes the goal that you want to reach, and any career decisions you make along the way becomes a matter of deciding whether moving (or not moving) in a specific career direction would bring you closer to whom you want to become. The combination of reflection to refine your goals, and discipline to take steps to move towards your goals will help you fill the gap between who you are and who you want to become.
  • Is About More Than Money – Many cultures around the world have built a definition of success that centers on high salaries or working for a prestigious organization (e.g. you would rather work for Google than a startup nobody knows, or for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation than for a non-profit no one has heard of). When it comes to money, MORE is what we all want. Moving from a MORE approach to a JUST ENOUGH approach might enable you to really understand that money masks other needs you have, such as the need of being respected and valued. By highlighting what you want to be remembered for, you can take ownership of your career (and life) success definition, as well as free yourself from societal pressures. Of course you will need to generate enough revenue to meet your financial obligations. Sit down to create your balance sheet and objectively evaluate how much money you need to meet your obligations and have a little more for savings and fun.
  • Success is Learning from Others – When considering our career decisions, we might tend to believe that we are unique and have to learn on our own. Nothing is farther from the truth. Indeed, we can always find professionals that have had similar goals than ours. Learning from these professionals by reading about their work, or by connecting with them online or in person can tremendously help us learn about ways we can reach our career goals and get closer to whom we want to become. Fortunately, it is now easier than ever to identify these like-minded professionals. Through social and professional networks such Justmeans, Net Impact, lifeworth, or, you can considerably accelerate your learning, and gather information faster about the good, the bad and the ugly that each career move is sure to bring your way. From this information, you can better assess your fit, and make a better decision in terms of whether your next career move would bring you closer (or not) to the legacy you want to build.
As you go through this process of defining what success means to you, remember that this definition will change in each of your life chapters. By having a direction to move towards while being open to the twists and turns that life is sure to send your way, you can take ownership of the process and make informed career decisions that will lead you to your own career success!

Photo Credit: stephwereley

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1 comment:

  1. Motivational speaker is also an excellent career option. Good to see that some people have the passion to become keynote speakers.

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