I bought a new car recently, and with the new car I got a suggested maintenance schedule which for the most part I expect I’ll follow. I want to be sure to look after my investment. Makes sense, right?
Just yesterday I had a conversation with a client about something similar as it relates to career. While your career doesn’t come with a maintenance schedule, I think it should. Not a schedule someone sets for you – like an annual or bi-annual performance review. A schedule you set for yourself where you check in on what’s working and tune things up that aren’t at the optimum. Every six months as a minimum is a good time frame to consider. More often is even better.
Why make this effort when you’re already so busy and have so much on your plate, both at work and at home? For the same reason I’m planning to follow my new car maintenance schedule. To protect my investment and to make sure I catch small problems before they become big problems. You’ve already invested time and energy into building your career. You’ve likely invested in education and professional development. You’ve likely worked hard to build your knowledge and skill set in your chosen field. Don’t let that go to waste.
If you do it regularly, career maintenance doesn’t have to be all that complicated. I found myself doing some routine career maintenance today as I was going for an early morning walk. If you’re doing it regularly, you don’t have to make it a big formal event. You just need to put some conscious attention into thinking about how things are going, how you’re feeling about it, and what you plan to do about it.
In the work I do I see examples all too often of people who’ve stopped paying attention to maintenance. Progressively over time they’ve become less and less happy in their work, often to the point where the disconnect between their current situation and what they need to feel satisfied is so great there’s little to be done but leave the situation and start over. Sometimes they make the decision to go on their own, and sometimes the company they work for makes the decision for them. Not that there’s anything wrong with movement between companies, when it’s for the right reasons. It’s just I think there’s times when the move is unnecessary, and could be avoided through regular career maintenance.
What if instead of ignoring the signs that dissatisfaction is starting, you stopped to think about why it’s happening. What’s changed? Most importantly, what could YOU do about it? Early diagnosis means you can tackle the issue before it becomes unmanageable – before the only option is to leave, or even worse, to stay but wake up miserable every morning. Regular career maintenance allows you to adjust what you’re doing before dissatisfaction escalates. Early diagnosis allows you to take charge of your career satisfaction.
Do you have a story you’d like to share about routine career maintenance and how it’s worked for you? I’d love to hear from you.