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It’s that time of year to reflect upon what we’ve learned from successes and failures and to consider next steps for personal growth.  In the spirit of giving, I’m sharing a framework that’s worked for me throughout my career; I hope that it gets you closer to your desired future.

First, what do I want to do just for myself?  What makes me feel good about me?  Yoga and Italian lessons are on my list for the new year.

Second, what’s my long range professional goal?  

  • Start with a vision of where you would like to be in five years; life and technology change too much to plan any further.  
  • Once you’ve painted a picture of your desired future, it’s time to talk with a few people who are already there about a realistic view of your gaps, and the experiences, education and results needed to get from here to there.  

When my long term aspirations were to make more impactful decisions in a corporate environment, it meant moving up in the organization.  To do that, I learned that I needed more customer facing experiences/roles, night school for an MBA and fate was smiling with an unexpected opportunity to participate in the pilot of an internal International Business program.

Third, how can I make the world a better place?  The peanut butter approach to giving back doesn’t work (a very small impact on several causes).  Instead, give more to the few platforms where your passions lie.  As an example, I believe that financial literacy gives students an idea of the cost of day to day life, credit card interest rates, how to interview for a position and salaries for the jobs that they plan for- so they aren’t blindsided as adults.  My concentrated effort included the time commitment as a board member for twelve years, along with volunteerism and donations to Junior Achievement.

Because professional and personal challenges are going to happen, a long range plan is more like a compass than a map.  It doesn’t predict the terrain that you’ll walk in life but it does provide the direction toward becoming your own hero.

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