Got control?

A red book on a white background with the words MAKE YOUR OWN RULES in gold on the cover

This isn’t an article about the perils of being a control freak.

Quite the opposite, actually.

It’s an article in which I beg you to take control.

Take control of your career. Please.

Don’t let your career wander around according to the whims of your managers, your employers, and perhaps your family.

Let’s start here.

Got a plan?

Actually, let’s not start here.

Because before you can plan how you’re going to accomplish something – as I’ve said many times – you need to be really clear on what that “something” actually is. And asking “how” before you know “what” is the wrong way to go about it. (Read those articles I linked and you’ll see why that’s true.)

So let’s start here instead.

Got a clue?

I’m not a fan of the classic interview question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Sheesh. If you’d told me five years ago that I’d be where I am today, I’d’ve called on the white-coat team to bring a straitjacket for you.

am a fan of two important questions:

  1. What does “success” look and feel like for you?
  2. What is the next step – maybe even the next smallest step – forward?

When you know the answer to those questions, THEN you can ask the “how” questions.

Now – got a plan?

Those two questions apply to anything in your life – family, relationships, education, community, and so on. But right now, we’re looking at your career.

And that means your career development plan.

How are you going to take that next step in your career?

What do you need?

Time? Resources? Mentoring? A coach? Training?

Got help?

Obviously, I can’t guarantee that you’ll get help from your employer, even if you ask for it.

But unless you work for a company that’s in serious trouble, or for a boss who’s a serious… well, you can fill in the blank there… if you ask for what you want, taking care to explain the benefit to the organization, you just might get it.

If you never ask, you’ll never know.

Got control?

It’s your career.

Sure, your managers have input. They have a perspective you don’t – they can see your strengths, so they can tell where you’ll probably succeed and where you might struggle.

But they also have their own agenda, and it might not align with what you want and who you are.

And sure, your friends and family have things to say. They, too, have perspectives you don’t. And they can be terrific sources of encouragement.

But they can also be concerned about your job security or worried that changes might impact your relationship with them. Which means they might not support you in ways that will get you where you want to go.

It’s your career.

Got control? If not … what’s stopping you from taking it?