2021 might have gotten off to a rocky start, but there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic about how it will unfold. 2021 can be your year to be intentional about your future and find a career you’re passionate about. Now is the perfect time to start thinking about and investing in your career – whether you’re unhappy in your current role, frustrated with a lack of growth, or just looking for something new.
We interviewed acclaimed venture capitalist and investor, Michael Dearing, to get his advice on how we can unlock greater purpose in our work by owning our career plan and development.
The secret to success, according to Dearing? Taking these three simple steps:
- Define your heart’s desire
- Perform a self-assessment
- Make a prescription plan
Here’s a closer look at how you can use these three steps to transform your career in the New Year:
1. Define Your Heart’s Desire
To find a career that emotionally fulfills you, you must start by defining your values and want to achieve in your personal or professional life – or your “heart’s desire,” as Dearing calls it. These goals are unique to you and can’t be defined by anyone other than yourself.
Your first step to finding a fulfilling career in the new year is to write down what you want out of your career. This is important as it will guide the next two steps.
Need some inspiration? Here are some examples of other peoples’ heart’s desire you can use to guide your own heart’s desire statement:
- I want to make enough money to retire early
- I want to have the financial freedom to pursue my art
- I want to be able to give my kids a great education
- I want to be my own boss and run my own company someday
2. Perform a Self-Assessment
Once you’ve identified your heart’s desire, it’s time to perform a self-assessment. This self-assessment framework, developed by Andrew Grove, requires you to evaluate your signature strengths, challenges (or weaknesses), and then draw an important message from them to determine how you can use and improve your skills to unlock the next level of your career.
To start your assessment, answer the question, “What are my unique strengths?” This could be anything that helps you be successful in your career, like your empathy, subject matter expertise, interpersonal communication, and strong managerial skills.
“A signature strength is not good penmanship or showing up with a positive attitude at work,” reminds Dearing. “Signature strengths should be your comparative advantage. They are the reason why people want you on their team and why you are successful in the fields that you’ve chosen.”
Once you’ve identified your strengths, it’s time to make note of the attributes, traits, or skill gaps that are or could be holding you back from getting a promotion or being a qualified candidate for a new role. This could include things like a lack of industry experience, strained relationships with colleagues, a lack of technical skills.
“If you could just invest in these areas or turn them from gaps to strengths, then you can unlock that next level in your career,” urges Dearing.
Your important messages are the key takeaways you pull from the two former sections. This could look like, “I should invest in X, Y, Z areas to turn gaps into strengths and progress in my career.” This helps you identify any areas that could be holding you back and the traits and strengths that you should leverage when marketing yourself for career advancement.
3. Make a Prescription Plan
Now that you have identified your goals, strengths, and areas for improvement, it’s time to hold yourself accountable and create an action plan.
Here are a few examples of action-oriented prescriptions plans that show how people will address their skill gaps head-on to invest in themselves and get one step closer to their career goals:
- I will take a mindfulness meditation class to help my anxiety.
- I will teach myself Python to further my engineering career.
- I will talk to three successful company founders to learn from their stories.
- I will read one journal in an adjacent scientific field a quarter to stay up-to-date in my area of expertise.
“These prescriptions do not ‘figure it all out,’” reminds Dearing. “They are little steps we take on our multi-decade career journey to bring us closer to our heart’s desire.”
Try your hand at creating a multi-step prescription plan that gives you micro-goals and new ways to invest in yourself, your skills, your knowledge, and your career. It will give you an actionable list that can guide your professional growth and help you achieve your career goals, whatever they may be.
What’s left? It’s up to you to hold yourself accountable and follow through with your prescription plan. Just know that your heart’s desire might change over time, and that’s OK! You can follow these steps from the beginning quarterly, annually, or whenever your goals change to update them and stay on track to build the career of your dreams in 2021 and beyond.
This article contains content from our live webinar, “How to Build a Career that Deeply Fulfills You” Click here to view the full event recording.