My Career Planning: A Ride-Along

My Career Planning: A Ride-Along

About a year ago I shared with you (Thinking Out Loud: My Career Planning) a little about my yearly career planning process.  This time I’m going to bring you on a ride-along of this year’s annual Career Planning exercise.

First and foremost I must answer a common question that I was asked a lot after last year’s blog.

The Dream Job Question: 

“Why do you even bother with the yearly career planning process? You are always saying that CPOC is your dream job come true”

Yes. Without a doubt CPOC really is my absolute dream job come true!  I consider myself so truly fortunate, blessed and lucky to still be here with CPOC.  Rocking 16 1/2 years with CPOC and the CPOC family at Cisco!

So that all being said… why do I still review every year?  Like I mentioned in last year’s blog “over the years what I’ve seen is that my 1 year plan, 3 year plan, 5 year plan and 10 year plans have changed as I have changed.”  So then reviewing every year is just taking the time to “check in” that the job I’m in is not only fun.. but is still taking me in the direction of my “long term goal” for who I am and what I’m interested in today.

This is a “Ride-Along”…. so feel free to grab your pen and paper and ride along with me.

Let the Ride-Along Begin!

So first question “What is my long term goal?”   After I have answered that…..The next question will basically be what are items/activities that would be helpful/supportive of that long term goal?

My plan when I “retire” is actually to still work for awhile longer by way of teaching and consulting. So Teaching/Consulting is my long term goal.  For some of you it might be a senior management position (CxO, EVP, SVP, etc).  For others of you it might be a senior technical position like (for Cisco) Cisco Fellow, Distinguished Engineer, Principle Engineer.  Whatever it is… for who you are today… write it down.

So now the next question.  With Teaching/Consulting as my long term goal.  What activities or items would be helpful/supportive in getting me to that goal?  Since what I want to do is Teach and/or Consult in the technical world …..  I feel I need to stay technical.  I feel I need to continue to learn, grow my knowledge, and teach.  My NetworkingWithFish web site (NWF) is helpful/supportive also in this long term goal.  Teaching at CiscoLive is helpful.   Also… of course… a little bit of external (external to Cisco) name recognition would also likely be helpful.

Okay… now what?  A lot of Career Planning web sites and books will likely tell you to “know yourself”.   Admittedly I did these yearly reviews a lot different when I was in my 20s and 30s than I do now.  But I didn’t have enough of the varied experience to kinda figure out what parts of varying jobs I enjoyed and what parts I really didn’t like.   But no matter what your age or job experience you can at least start a list for who you are today… this moment.  And what you love and would like to do >65% of the time for any given year… and what you really dislike doing or being around and would like to not spend more than 15% of year dealing with it.  🙂

I also like the idea of after you go thru the “I love/Makes me Super Happy” side … anything that just really reaches out to you and screams… oh my gosh… i had so much funny doing that… THOSE get little red hearts around them.

Okay so now we have 2 lists … the “I LOVE doing this stuff” and the “I don’t enjoy this stuff”.  So now what?

Now I like to review the trends in my “jobs over the years”.  I can look over all >30 years in the work force and notice I have certain repeating trends of things that called to me in varying jobs.

We will focus on just the top 6.  Because those top 6 are what I’ve been focused on for the past 16 years.

H means high amount of this in that job/activity, M means medium, L means Low.  L with an * is only in the External name recognition and A.C. (after Cisco/long term goal) column. The L* means that while External Name recognition or After Cisco is “low” for that specific job, it can he H (high) if I blogged about it or YouTube about it.

Of course you should make your own columns.  🙂  As you do this every year you will start to notice trends.

For me it is Technical Teaching, Technical Learning, the desire to be challenged by a time crunch at time, short term and long term projects, troubleshooting, working 1 on 1 with people, working 1 to many with people, having a job where I work with people a lot, using my IQ, using my EQ,  and being part of an exceptional team.  These are my columns that repeat everywhere.

What are those final two rows?  Again, These tie back into do these jobs/activities that help me with my long term goal: External – does this help me with external name recognition?,  A.C. – “After Cisco” – will this help me get to my desire to Teach and/or Consult after Cisco.

Now what?  This part has been pretty anti-climatic for me for the past 16 years. Just always has ended up being clear that CPOC is the best place for me for short term and for my long term career goals.

Admittedly, however, for the 13 years after college and prior to my CPOC job,  I used to change my job about every 18 months to 2 years. I was very much still trying to figure out what “called” to me and what I really “liked” doing.

Change is hard.  And it is scary.  But the only thing constant in life is change.  And change is okay.  It can be ….. just WOW.  Or sometimes it can just be like “Hmmm… wasn’t thinking I’d be doing this part so much”.  🙂  I’ve had both happen in >30 years of the workforce. LOL. Either way it is a learning process.  And we can grow from it and get closer to understand what really “calls to us” in the work force in our careers.  At least it has worked that way for me.

I will tell you one thing.  Fortunately I haven’t done this yet.  But I have seen so very many others that have.

Do NOT run from a job,

Always run TO a job.

I’ve seen so many people run from a job… cause they weren’t getting a pay raise.. they wanted a company car… they didn’t feel their manager was paying enough attention to them … or maybe they got passed over for a promotion that year and MAN oh MAN are they going to show “them” what they missed out on. Whatever. The list I’m sure goes on and on.  Do NOT run from a job.  I have seen so many people make short term mistakes and not vet the next job out.

Make this list. Start getting to really know what you like.  What you love doing.  What your long term goals are.

And then What?


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