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Be Clear About Your Path, Focus Your Performance

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

Inspired by Harvard Business Review’s Before You Start Talking, Think, I would argue that just like uncertainty within a company can take its toll on your performance, uncertainty within you an employee can also take its toll.

One of the reasons why I’m a proponent of a personal mission statement and periodic reflection in regards to your life and career direction is that, like an organization, having an understanding of the goals that you’re pursuing will help you relate what you’re doing now to where you are going overall.

You are your own brand…your own business.  Every role you take on does not just fill out your resume; it constructs a map of where you’ve been and where you’re going.  This means that every job you take on matters.

Think about it, as a manager of your career it is important that you give others a sense of where you are heading so that they can support you as you push toward your next career milestone.  In order to be clear about the help you need – and should accept – we can rework the HBR suggestions:

  1. Think ahead.  Come up with an agenda for your career conversation.  If you need to, take a long weekend to step back and evaluate where you are and where you want to go.  Keep in mind that you’re not just planning your next move or two within the current role…you are planning your career throughout your lifetime.
  2. Paint a picture.  Tell a story or create some kind of visual imagery to convey your mission, brand yourself, or to make your message memorable.  As I talk with some executives I am hearing more and more about organizations using artists to capture their mission statement as a creative reminder of what they’re working toward.
  3. Ask for help.  While you are ultimately responsible for the career that is crafted, the more people you involve in your process the more people you have holding you accountable to your vision, available to consult during difficult times, and that are simply invested in seeing you succeed.
  4. Watch what you say.  The clearer you are, the more apt you are to convey your mission to others and make it easy for them to remember when opportunities arise.

The idea here is to help you engage in intentional leadership with your career so that you can be sure that you and those that support you are clear about your direction.

In what ways do you clear up uncertainty about your career path?  How has this impacted your performance?

References

Before You Start Talking, Think

Career Management for the Lifespan

Clarify Your Vision Regularly

How Do You Respond to What Others Say?

Redefining Success:  Creating a Future Fit for the Person I’m Becoming

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