It’s a new year. For many, it comes with new goals, new energy, and even big dreams. Yet many people soon feel stymied by the same old job, same old challenges and same old routines. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It just might be that you can get a better job without actually changing jobs. Here are the six simple steps to take.
1. Believe you can.
The first step is to believe that you have the ability to control and to change your current job situation. In many cases, the barriers of your advancement are actually barriers you set in your mind, so take the courage to overcome your self imposed barriers and own your unique capabilities.
Do this exercise: Write down three limiting beliefs that hold you back, and replace each one with a liberating truth (thanks to Michael Hyatt). For example – perhaps one of your barriers is “I’m not experienced enough”. Maybe a liberating truth is actually “I’ve been doing this type of work for x-years, I studied this overall profession for x-years in school, and, come to think of it, I have as much experience as my peers or boss”. Identifying your barriers and recasting them into liberating truths sets the stage for your advancement.
2. Set your future vision.
Where do you want you career to be in three or four years? What is your North star – what is your true passion? When I worked at Camp7, StorageTek and Sun Microsystems my passion was simply great design, so I focused all of my efforts on creating the best design possible in products, websites, collaterals and brands. My passion shaped my job.
But then my passion changed – I became more interested in helping creative people become better design leaders. So I followed my passion – got educated in design management, got some amazing mentors, and spent more and more of my time coaching design managers. I never planned on running a non-profit, but soon was offered the opportunity to run DMI, the non-profit Design Management Institute. I followed my passion about design leadership and discovered a way to shape my job to my evolving passion.
Do this exercise: Determine where your passion is centered, and identify five to seven goals of your future vision to shape your dream job to your passions.
3. Know your “Why”.
Goals are great, but they will usually fall short unless they have a deeper meaning to you. You have to know exactly why you are doing what you are doing, or planning what you are planning. Sounds so simple, but if you don’t know your why it is way too easy to quite when the going gets tough. Michelle Hyatt suggests that people loose their way when they don’t know their why.
Take this next step: Identify your why for each of your five to seven goals in your future vision.
4. Learn, grow, change.
These three words changed my life. I’ve always sought more professional challenges, and long ago committed to be a continuous learner. In learning we grow and in growth we change. I took these on three words, learn, grow and change as my personal mantra early in my career. Since then I’ve gotten three more college degrees (not necessarily recommended), and within my North Star of great design for the triple bottom line, I’ve changed positions numerous times – from art director to design director to brand manager to association president and now to design and innovation executive recruiter. I’ve long been inspirited by the quote from Will Rodgers: “Even if your on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just stand there”.
5. Be creative and flexible.
Changing jobs in your organization requires creativity and flexibility on your part. Case example: when I was running the design and creative services department at StorageTek I noticed my influence on product design was often slighted by product brand managers, who were focused on building sub-brands, sort of “their baby”. I thought, “really, isn’t this one company?” I knew that this company needed a master brand strategy and I wanted to become the corporate brand and design manager – the company did not have a corporate brand manager. The VP of Marketing owned the brand managers and relied heavily on my design and creative services group. I noticed that she thrived on adding head count to her organization, while I was spending too much time managing my department and not enough time on design strategy. So I proposed a little trade – I gave her my creative services department of about 30 people, in exchange for ownership of Corporate Design and Brand. In one relatively small reorganization I got my dream job, the company got my expertise on master brand and design strategy, the VP Marketing got the bigger organization she desired, and the product brand managers soon got put in line.
6. Start right now.
Finally, break down you projects into bite size pieces and get started now. The path only comes clear if you are in motion, and procrastination is the real enemy. Some people recommend starting with the easy projects to get momentum going and then progress to the harder parts, but I like to start with the hard stuff and get it out of the way first. Either way, the two key words are “start now”. Zig Zigler said “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to get started to be great”.
Do this simple exercise: Set one or two actions you can start on right away for each of your five to seven goals.
One of my goals this year is to post weekly on this blog about design leadership, innovation leadership, building great design and design thinking organizations, and building cultures of innovation. I just started.