This past week I presented a program on Planning For Your Second Act with a group of extraordinary seasoned leaders. As often happens with this workshop, participants attend wondering why they would need to be so structured in their thinking about their next steps. Some of the initial conversations and comments were:“I am tired of planning out my life. I am going to wing it.”“I am a bit scared about my next steps but I will figure it out.”“I am ready to just go with the flow and see where that takes me.”No matter what stage a leader may be in during their career, they know that change is a constant. What that means is that with such a great deal of flux there is always a need to prepare for our next move. Time invested in anticipating their next possible career and life choices will help a leader make the best decisions. With change as a constant, leaders must be prepared for their next crossroad.
Here are five actions leaders take to plan for their next crossroad:
1. Assess The Stability Of Your Current Position
Whether you are a seasoned or an emerging leader, it is essential to take a hard look at how sustainable your current job may be. In your analysis consider the value of your tasks and assignments and try to project what the future may hold. Sometimes our work situations may change due to economic factors or an alternative direction that our organization is following. Being aware of how our team or department is valued can help us decide whether we need to take some immediate action
2. Take Stock Of Your Strengths
Emerging leaders, middle management and seasoned leaders
should all have a good understanding of the areas they excel. Studies
have shown that it is far better to play to our strengths than constantly try to upgrade our weaknesses. To locate your talents: Reflect on what projects you have been asked to be involved Ask a colleague or boss what they most value about your contributions Think about what brings you joy and makes you feel competent Identify what others ask you to help with To face a crossroad successfully leaders need to play to their strengths.
3. Identify Missing Skills Or Experiences
Sometimes we need to be willing to gain additional skills in order to grow our leadership and career. Ask for feedback
about areas that would enhance your job and empower you to move to your next promotion. Going back to school or obtaining a certification may be necessary to face the next crossroad more successfully. Ask to be put on a project that would expose you to mastering required new skills. Being prepared with the best leadership skills will set you apart.Related: What Are You Doing to Add Chapters to Your Leadership Story?
4. Honor Your Interests And Fascinations
Hone in on what excites you and make sure to pursue it. In my Planning For Your Second Actprogram one leader decided he wanted to learn more about cooking once he retired and that meant researching and finding a good culinary school. Some great ways to identify your fascinations are: Ask yourself when was the last time you enjoyed an activity Remember what brought you happiness in your childhood Think about the kinds of books or articles that keep your attention
5. Create A Written Plan
No plan is complete until we write it down with goals, objectives and timeframes
. Knowing which crossroad we want to take is half of the decision; how we will prepare ourselves to be fully ready is the other piece. When leaders commit in writing their career choices and specific actions they will take, they will more likely be successful. Another way to create a plan is by designing a vision board, which contains visuals of where we are headed. The vision boards created by the participants in my Planning For Your Second Act course were beyond extraordinary. What actions have you taken to plan for your next crossroad?