Sometimes you have to reinvent. Most of us have at least a basic plan and course for our IT careers, but life tends to have a way of making us drift off track. If you’re like most people, that’s happened to you. Here are 6 practical steps you can take to reboot your career and get heading in the right direction.
- Take an honest look at where you are
- Compare where you are to where you thought you’d be
- Now, stop looking at your past
- Create a realistic plan
- Take massive action
- Get accountable
Let’s unpack these.
Take an honest look at where you are.
They say that the journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step. That’s true. And step #1 of reinventing your IT career is to make a frank assessment of where your career is right now.
- Look at the circumstances you’ve made for yourself and ask yourself some questions:
- Do you like the work you’re doing and the people you do it with?
- Do you find the tech your working with interesting?
- Are you excited and engaged?
- Do you wake up ready to tackle the day, or are you dragging yourself in?
If you didn’t answer those questions positively, it’s time for some kind of change.
Compare where you are to where you thought you’d be
This is probably the toughest step. It hurts to be honest with yourself. Nobody like to say, “Yeah, I was going to be awesome but I totally didn’t.”
I truly expected to be a millionaire by the time I was 25. I was making pretty good money, and if I could have sustained the growth by business was under, I just might have. However, I didn’t make it. I still ended up as an entrepreneur (by accident), but not where I wanted to be.
It’s ok to realize that you didn’t get where you thought you’d get. But let’s move you forward, ok?
Now, stop looking at the past
The thing about the past is that it can’t be changed. If can only harm you if you let it. We all make mistakes. From now on, I want you to look at where you are going to, not where you are coming from. There’s not much handy back there.
Take some time and visualize where you want to be. Here’s what you can do:
Close you eyes and see where you want to be in 2 years. What kind of work will you be doing? What kind of income will you create? What will you do with your free time? See it in your mind. Now, write it down.
Think about why you want to be there. What will it take to get there?
Create a realistic plan
Without a plan, you’re just not going to succeed at complex or long-term tasks- required when you reinvent.
No cliches, I promise. Without a plan, you’re just not going to succeed at complex or long-term tasks- required when you reinvent. It’s really very simple. To make your plan, I just start at the goal, then work backwards. For instance, I want to get the VCP6-DCV (I’m studying it right now). My plan, from back to front is this:
Sit for and pass 2V0-621D exam(VCP6DCV)
Take practice exams several times
Request authorization for VCP6 Delta Exam + pay
Attend vSphere: Design & Deploy Fast Track [V6] training
Sit for and pass VCP5-DCV (VCP550)
Take practice exams several times
Request authorization for VCP 5.5 Exam + pay – Schedule for 12/22/2015.
Finish Stanly.edu course on 12/15/2015
- Compare exam objectives to course content and look for gaps
- Make note of the areas I’m weak on and practice them
- Discuss and teach weak areas with colleagues at work
Start Stanly.edu course on 10/27/2015
Take VMware practice exam to get a baseline
Get exam objectives (done)
Register and pay for Stanly.edu course (more info here) (done)
That’s it. This is my actual plan to get to VCP6-DCV. You don’t have to make a plan this way or in this direction, but I find working backwards is easiest. It’s also important to put dates on things and tell people. That will keep you motivated.
Start taking massive action
No big secret here. If you have taken an honest look at where you are compared to where you want to be, decided where you want to be, then created a plan, all you need to do now it do it.
What is the first step in your plan. Can you complete it right now? You don’t have to do it all at once. If you can’t do it now, break that step down into smaller bites, and do the first one.
Also, I want you to avoid the trap of trying. What do I mean by this?
When you say you will try to do something, you are not fully committed to it. You may attempt it, but saying you’ll try gives you an out in case you can’t accomplish it. Just listen to the words of Yoda with Luke on Dagobah:
Yoda instructs Luke to lift the X-Wing out of the swamp with the Force; Luke responds
Luke: All right, I’ll give it a try.
Yoda: (irritated) No! Try not! Do- or do not. There is no try.
Do- or do not. There is no try.
Have you every felt that creative energy you get when you get into a group that’s focused on an important task? Do you know why Weight Watchers and others work so well? Accountability.
Accountability may seem like a bad word in some contexts, but in reality, it’s a good thing. When you know someone is going to ask you about why you did or didn’t do something, you are far more likely to follow through on it. Here are some statistics:
According to the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD)’s study on accountability, your probability of completing a goal is:
- You have an idea or a goal: 10%
- You consciously decide you will do it: 25%
- You decide when you will do it: 40%
- You plan how you will do it: 50%
- You commit to someone you will do it: 65%
- You have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed to: 95%
You might have someone in mind right now- a close friend or colleague. Or maybe your spouse or significant other. Any of these people can help you get accountable. Just tell them what you plan on doing, giving specific dates.
You can reinvent yourself- that’s one thing that makes people different from the animals. We have control and choice over our futures. If you need to give your IT career a kick start (or a kick in the pants), make sure you keep these concepts in mind.
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