For leaders in difficult times, a little self-reflection can go a long way to making sure one’s career is right on track.
Given that managers and other leaders already have plenty of tough decisions to make, taking a moment to assess your own career goals is a crucial step to being a strong leader in the first place.
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Career and leadership coach Crystal Campbell says tough times have an upside because they often force people to re-evaluate the most important things in their careers, such as their goals, work environment and overall satisfaction with their jobs.
“An economic downturn doesn’t necessarily spell doom and gloom. This is often a time when people will stop and reflect about their work. Because it’s a difficult time, people need to be flexible and respond accordingly,” Campbell said.
Fear can be a powerful force to compel you to action especially if you worry about keeping your job, but it can also keep you in a place you don’t really want to be. Most people are too afraid of changing the status quo in their careers because they too often think of success solely as a destination, when in fact a great chunk of it lies in the journey itself, Campbell says.
Having a clear goal in mind will make it easier to avoid pitfalls in your career path that will actually hold you back rather than propel you forward.
“Be clear on what success looks like for you to help keep you focused on your dreams and get you in the habit of saying ‘No’ to anything that would divert you,” Campbell said.
Create your own specific definition of success and what it looks like to you: Is the ability to impact a workplace more important to you than higher compensation? Do you like being the lynchpin of output for an employer’s business or do you prefer guiding others to succeed? Are you looking for a career that has broader social importance or are you happiest when leading the charge on the newest and greatest consumer product?
Taking stock of all aspects of what you want from your career will make it easier to plan out what you need to do to make it all happen, Campbell says.
“Take a look at your strengths, passions and personal values and tap into what they are to carve out a path for yourself. Look at what would be your optimum work environment and visualize what that would be like and how you can be at your best.
“Focus on the options and possibilities that exist for you and then intentionally move forward,” Campbell said.
For leaders just starting out and worried about making the right decisions, Campbell says a sense of compassion can go a long way to giving you confidence in your decisions.
“Younger leaders may never have experienced an economic recession before. Starting from a place of compassion will inform every decision you make with meaning and will help you stay focused,” Campbell said.