CareerSherpas: Climbing the Mountain

When you’re on the way, it helps to share the load

Archive for January, 2009

New Habits for the New Year (Part 2 – Dream a little dream)

Monday, January 26th, 2009

A week ago, the USA saw an event come to pass many believed would not happen in their lifetimes. Perhaps more impressive is the perspective and hope that one individual can bring, whether it be to a nation, a community, a family or even themselves.

When we consider any of the leaders who firmly planted milestones in history, they all have one thing in common: a vision and the commitment to make it happen. Whether these people later became revered or reviled is not important to my thought for today. The important message is that every person who reached out to touch the world, or even to improve their own backyards, started out with a dream, a vision, an end goal that they saw as valuable.

This week, it’s time to set some priorities and some goals  and learn how to manage them! Start out by looking at what you want now and look ahead to what you want in three, five and ten years. If you feel adventurous, reach out and look at how you want to spend your retirement. For some folks that might seem a long way off, others a lot closer than the ten or even five year marks, but it’s important to paint a picture and hear what the story sounds like.

Once you have the picture, it’s time to make it part of your daily life. Make sure your goals are accessible and that you see and read through them regularly, preferably every day. If once a day seems like it’s too much to ask, try asking yourself if you really want to accomplish everything on the list you’ve made. Do you feel passionately that you want everything on the list?

You’ll probably find a lot of things on the list that aren’t as important to you, or that you can’t envision yourself doing. That’s okay, but recognize that fact and move those things onto a separate “maybe someday” type list. The “maybe someday” list can be reviewed less frequently, but what it does is move the really important things into view.

Work to review your list every day, reminding yourself of the dream that’s important to you, and ideas, opportunities and possibilities to achieve those goals become a lot more obvious. Taking those desires off your mind allows it to relax. When the mind relaxes, all kinds of new and wonderful thoughts work their way in, and with the constant reminders of your goals you’ll find that more often than not those thoughts provide new openings for you to achieve those goals.

Take the time this week to build a vision of what you want, where you want to be and why you want it. Then move forward knowing that you can, and will, make a path to your goals.

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of CareerSherpas.com and is currently working on his first book, conducting high-level business analysis, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.

New Habits for the New Year (Part 1 – Maintaining Social Connections)

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Over the last few weeks I intended to give a list of New Year resolutions that we should all consider for our careers but fortunately this post was delayed. The delays have given me a lot of time to think. Forced me to have a lot of time to think might be a better description, but it’s made me rethink my original post quite a lot. The original post was filled with wonderful truisms which might yet see the light of day, yet didn’t provide any more value than a glossy “ten things to remember” list.

Instead, I’m starting off the new year with a series of posts on habits we should be forming to improve our careers and keep them on a steady path. In tough economic times when layoffs are looming and the future seems uncertain, we have an opportune time to make ourselves better employees, better bosses and better people.

So today I’ll explore the first of the habits I believe we should all form for ourselves: Maintaining social connections.

Social connections happen all the time and in any one of a number of venues. You’re having lunch with a co-worker, drinks with college friends or barbequing with family and neighbors. (Well, maybe we’ll be able to do that in a few months!) The point is that no matter what the occasion, these chances to socialize and relax with people we know offer all kinds of opportunities.

Try keeping a list of everyone you make contact with and any information you can gather at all about them. It doesn’t really matter if it’s family or friends or random people you never expect to meet again, the point is to get an idea of people you could keep touch with. Maybe it’s not the kind of thing you do on the spot at a dinner party, but afterwards consider who you met up with and what you talked about. This doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and if, like me, you can never remember anyone’s name it can be especially difficult in social circles.

Let’s say you’ve managed to gather a list, incomplete as it might be, your next step should be to try to categorize the list. Don’t feel like you have to formally categorize everyone, you’re not trying to rate people or give special preference to anyone or anything. You’re just creating some rough buckets that give you an idea of how well you know the people in the grouping what common interests or topics you share. You might find that an address book, physical or electronic, works well for you or you might just keep a written list. However you do it, your goal is to remember who you’ve talked to and a little bit about each person.

Now, just using that one list, keep track of when you talk, email or touch base somehow with anyone on the list. What you’re likely to find is that some people you talk to frequently, while others you run into occasionally or not at all.

You might be asking why am I suggesting you do all this? What you’re doing is getting an idea of a group of people that you like (or can’t avoid) having contact with regularly and that you want to keep contact with. So your next job is to turn the list around from a group of people that you want to keep in touch with and a group of people you actually do keep in contact with.

Consider making a schedule of people to talk to, or set up regular lunch, drinks or dinner appointments and invite people to them. The most frequent contacts are all going to be people you want to be able to help where you can and enjoy where you can’t.

Whatever you do, recognize that these are people who are important to you, that you like, need or want to spend time with and see all of them as important. These are all people who can share ideas, news, stories and advice with you and can help you enrich your life and with it your career.

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of CareerSherpas.com and is currently working on his first book, conducting high-level business analysis, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.