In my spare time, I give career advice to people like you: communicators, HR professionals and anyone who fulfills a professional service role in a large organization.
The biggest challenge most of my clients face? They’re so mired in day-to-day responsibilities that they find it difficult to even think about long-term goals (much less actually carve out time to actually work on more strategic projects).
My metaphor for that challenge is this: It’s as if every morning you jump on a bicycle and start peddling. You don’t have a destination, a route or even a direction. You just peddle and peddle and peddle. At the end of the day, you climb down, exhausted, and discover that you haven’t even left the parking lot.
Yes, it’s great exercise, but please stop spinning and do these four things:
- Spend time (take a day off, if necessary) to figure out your next career move. It could be a lateral move or a promotion in your current company, or a change to a new organization. There’s no wrong answer here—the key is to decide where you want to go next and what experience and skills you need to get there.
While you’re thinking deep thoughts, answer this question: What are the big goals you want to accomplish in your current job that will give you joy and gain recognition from key stakeholders?
- Now, that you’ve got a renewed sense of focus, make it a priority to accomplish what matters and build the skills and experience you need to make your next move. What projects do you need to take on? What courses do you need to take? How do you get these important goals done, despite the need to keep the bicycle moving forward?
Book time at least twice a week (preferably more often) to work on your priorities. To make this work, you need the following: To have your calendar blocked. To get out of your office or workspace so people can’t easily find you. And to stay firm, unless your boss or someone very very important really really needs you.
Yes, I know that this isn’t easy. But if you don’t take care of your own career, who will?