It's important to plan your career with the end in mind. Of course, it's not a fixed end as your desires could and would change. However, I believe it's important to always have a sense of direction for our careers, so we are able to find and pursue the opportunities that position us for where we want to get to. I set out below some guiding principles for building a career with the end in mind.
1. Connect with your desires and wants
You are both the architect and builder of your career. It is vital to get clear on what you want - the design or blueprint as I call it. Reflect on these questions to connect with your desires:
What would make your career one you look back on at retirement with joy and pride?
What impact do you want to make in your career?
What's the highest job title you would like to hold and by when?
Connecting with your desires and wants are about determining the work you want to do, the impact you want to make, the job titles you'd like to hold and even the income you'd like to earn.
Caution: We limit ourselves when we base our desires on our present reality or other people's experiences. If you're of African descent working in the western world, the present reality of few people who look like you in senior corporate leadership roles might ordinarily lead you to aim lower than you'd like because you do not see people who look and sound like you in senior leadership positions. You would be doing yourself a disservice and limiting yourself with this way of thinking. Your desires are what you want not what you think others would give you or let you have.
2. Commit to figuring out the 'How to'
You are on good ground if you don't know how you're going to make your career desires come true. The 'how to' is a journey you embark on. You become both an explorer and a planner seeking to figure out how you're going to make your plans come true.
Believe there is a path to what you want and you just need to figure it out.
The issue is are you going to commit to finding that path? Are you going to commit to going after the knowledge and wisdom needed to turn your career desires to reality? Are you going to commit to work on yourself and get the mindset, habits and attitudes of the people who reach the career heights you desire? Will you be relentless and commit to bouncing back from failures, discouragements and set backs?
Here is where rubber meets the road. Figuring out the 'how to' is a journey for those fully committed and dedicated to what they want to achieve.
3. Confront challenges
Everyone faces challenges in their career, some more than others. The scarcity of non-white leaders in senior leadership position is evidence that the journey is harder if you're not white. Expect challenges and determine in advance that you will confront and win or sidestep it.
As African Diaspora professionals, there are also often personal, inner battles to overcome to feel comfortable and be our authentic selves in corporate spaces where we are a minority.
There are outright assaults that you'll need to develop resilience in handling so they do not crush you, your confidence and the ability to stay focussed on what you want.
Assaults like more difficult progression paths because of lack of support; feeling excluded as you watch the career advancing projects and opportunities go to others even though you're asking for the same; harsher judgments and penalties when things go wrong. The list goes on.
For the sake of keeping your focus and well-being, you can't fight all the battles that come your way. Pick your fights based on your values and with the end in mind - what's the ultimate goal you're aiming for? Don't attend every discord you're invited to. Don't be distracted by side shows. Rather, take the experiences and use them to fuel the pursuit of your goals. Keep your eye on the ball.
The best revenge remains success - in the same place you suffered assault or elsewhere.
All I say in the paragraphs above require mental strength and resilience to work through. It requires commitment, dedication and focus. It's not for everyone. It's only for the those that are willing and committed to achieve their career desires and not settle for less than they desire.
If this resonates with you, then I'd encourage you to commit to taking action and very importantly, to guard your focus. Focussed light can start a fire. I believe we are all light carriers and those who create fires with their lights are those who are focussed and are unwavering in their resolve and commitment to doing the work to get what they want in career and in life.
Connect with your heart desires and wants for your career
Commit to figuring out the 'how to' make it happen
Confront the challenges that arise
Looking forward to hearing about your progress!