🚀 How to Create an Intentional Career Path Instead of Letting Others Determine Your Future (Issue #428)
Drivers vs. passengers in the wild ride of work and life
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"It used to be so easy for me to get a new job. I didn't even have to look or try. People came to me! But, now? Now I'm struggling to get to the final round and I haven't received any offers in over a year? Something has changed…"
— My new client
My coaching client was pretty unhappy about this twist of fate. That wonderful well of endless jobs had surprisingly dried up.
Many smart and talented people have this experience. Getting a job in their 20s was easy. Almost too easy.
It was so easy that they never bothered to think about a career plan or create an intentional career path. Employers were plentiful and the job market was bountiful. Heck, jobs were falling out of the sky and landing in their laps It would always be like this, right?
The wild ride will come to an end, sooner for some people than others. If you haven't mapped out a plan, put yourself in the driver's seat, and controlled your path and destiny, you might find yourself kicked to the curb.
Ageism is real, folks. Age discrimination is illegal, but it's incredibly difficult to prove. You'll simply notice that people are no longer actively seeking you out and trying to recruit you for roles.
Sitting back and waiting to see what happens in your career isn’t a great strategy. Do you see yourself as more of a driver or passenger on your journey?
Are you just along for the ride in your career?
Do you feel like your career happened to you serendipitously?
Most people let their careers "just happen." They don't give much thought to planning their career path, looking for the best employers, and controlling their future until something goes wrong.
Suddenly, they notice that:
They're being passed over for promotions.
It's taking longer to find new jobs.
Their career growth is slowing down.
Their raises have flatlined.
They're feeling unhappy, stressed, anxious, worried, and unfulfilled.
Eventually, they ask themselves:
"Is this really what I should be doing with my life?
What's going wrong?
How do I get back on a good path?"
Create an intentional path
Where do you want your life to be in 20 years?
Can you get there more quickly?
Let me stop for a moment and make something clear. I am not suggesting that you create a rigid 30-year career path and follow it from the start to the bitter end. We don't do that anymore, right?
If you are thoughtful and intentional during your journey, you will learn more about who you are and what you really want from life. You will change your mind, and that’s ok.
It seems like I change my career plans and path about every 10 years. While the thought of changing professions and careers may make some people feel stressed out, I find it exciting.
Rather than selecting a point in the future that’s attached to a specific profession or financial outcome (e.g., I must be a CEO, a billionaire, or a famous author), I prefer to ask people to envision a life they would find interesting, exciting, delightful, and fulfilling.
Where do they live?
How do they spend their days working?
How do they spend time playing?
Who are they spending their life with?
When you have a plan in mind, you’ll notice more opportunities that can help you with your journey.
I created a 91-page Invincible Career Manual for my clients that we collaboratively complete and review. It’s meant to evolve with you and be updated as your career grows and changes.
If you’re already one of my clients, ping me to make sure you find your customized copy of the manual in our shared Google Drive folder.
If you’re a member of my Career Accelerator, I’ll share a link to get your free copy of the manual in our private Slack channel.
If you’re a premium subscriber to this newsletter, I’ll share a link to get your free copy of the manual in our Office Hours channel on Slack.
If you subscribe to the free version of this newsletter, use this link to get 20% off and download your own copy of the Invincible Career Manual! You can start using it right away to plan what you want for your career this year and beyond.
Design your ideal lifestyle
One way to create a better career path is to focus on life design first. Design your lifestyle and then find a career that enables it.
I'm not talking about the lifestyles of the rich and shameless. Don't be a silly child and say, "I want to own a private island with a jet and a yacht. Therefore I need a career that makes me a billionaire!"
It’s great to be ambitious. But, try to be somewhat realistic, too.
How do you want to spend your days?
How do you want to structure your weeks?
With whom do you spend most of your time?
Where do you live?
How do you keep yourself happy, healthy, and fulfilled?
Craft your ideal job
Job crafting is the practice of changing your job to make it more engaging and meaningful. I also love to have my clients write their ideal job description as one way to pursue a role that would give them what they want for their career and life. We focus on the job, the employer/company, and their direct manager/boss.
Design your ideal job that is the right next step for your career.
How would you define your ideal role?
What do you want to do more of in your next job?
What do you want to eliminate in your next role?
Defining your ideal employer sometimes feels like a scene from Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You've probably had enough jobs that you know what you want more of from an ideal employer and what you want to avoid.
This corporation is too large.
This startup is too small.
I don’t want to work for a company that’s dependent on ad revenue.
I don't enjoy working on enterprise software.
I enjoy companies that sell direct to consumer.
Think back and remember what you’ve appreciated about your past bosses. Also capture the toxic traits of your bad managers.
What does a great boss look like for you?
What are your red flag issues to avoid?
How do wish your future boss would behave and treat you?
Ideal independent business (if necessary)
Sometimes the best job is the one you literally create from scratch. I reached that point in my career.
I was tired of trying to fit myself into companies, organizations, and leadership cultures that weren’t a good match for my personality, values, and ambitions. So, I left the corporate scene and built my own business.
If that’s something you’re interested in doing one day, check out my Invincible Solopreneurs newsletter. I’m also planning a live workshop to help folks define and design a business based on their existing talents, skills, knowledge, and experience.
Why bother with a plan?
For most people, staying in a job for too long has diminishing returns. On average, being employed at the same company for over two years will make you earn less over your lifetime — by about 50% or more.
If you’re not planning your promotion path and taking control of making it happen, you may not have a manager who will look out for you and ensure you get promoted when you deserve it.
If you know you need to move on to a better job to keep growing your career and maximizing your lifetime earning potential, having a plan ensures you make a smart move. Too many people end up jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire of an even worse situation.
A plan helps you do your homework and make a move to a great company, manager, and job.
The right boss can accelerate your career.
The wrong boss can damage it and set you back for years (or forever).
The right company can set you up for the rest of your career.
The wrong company can waste years of your time and lower your lifetime earning potential.
The right company culture will let you have a great personal life.
The wrong company culture will chew you up and spit you out.
A plan also helps you identify faster paths to your ideal end state. If you don't know where you want to go, it's kind of impossible to even notice or look for shortcuts. I found a shortcut and got the life I want decades ahead of where my traditional career was taking me. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life!
Drivers get what they want
Drivers get what they want out of life. Passengers end up where someone else decides to drop them off.
Those people who seem happier and more successful than you aren't better than you. They're just more confident, know what they want, and pursue it with a vengeance.
They are in the driver's seat, controlling where their careers and lives are going.
You don't have to be a passenger. Don't let anyone stop you from climbing into the driver's seat of your career and life.
It's not like you'll get a second chance to play this game. You get one life. Chart a course to end up where you want to go.
Invincible Career Workshop
I'm considering creating a workshop on "How to Create an Intentional Career Path." Let me know your thoughts by voting on this poll.
Larry Cornett is a Personal Coach who can help you optimize your career, life, and business. If you’re interested in starting a business or side hustle someday (or accelerating an existing one), check out his “Employee to Solopreneur” workshop (coming soon).
Larry lives in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with his wife and a gigantic Great Dane. He does his best to share advice to help others take complete control of their work and life. He’s also on Mastodon.