We develop strategic plans in businesses. They are supposed to guide organizations in the coming year or two. But do you have one? Your own I mean. Do you have a comprehensive strategic plan that is your map for your personal future? If not, it is essential that you begin the process now. Here’s why:
1) If you don’t plan your life, someone else will
Companies are notorious for steering you to develop skills in an area that the business needs. If you are skilled on the frontline and the program lacks supervisors, guess who will be up for a promotion soon? Your boss may even send you on leadership training.
But, is it what you really want?
It may be. But if you haven’t taken the time to strategically look at your career goals, and how they fit in your life goals, you won’t know. You will simply be ushered in the direction of your organization’s needs.
You need to be conscious about planning your life
Without conscious thought to what you are focusing on, both in your position at work and as an individual with a life, you will just go with the flow. Someone else’s tasks, agenda items, meetings, and assignments will fill up every minute of your day. You won’t make choices because you will have no room for choices. Your indecision will mean that someone else will rule your days. That tends to leave you feeling like a bit like a puppet. Ouch!
2) Work and Life are inextricably intertwined
You may have a performance plan at work complete with goals and subsequent training. However, when you rely on your employee performance plan as your roadmap, you are overlooking the bigger picture. Even if you tremendously contributed to the plan, it is only a minuscule slice of your life.
Performance Improvement Plans don't address the whole picture
A performance plan typically looks at you formal educational and training needs. Additionally, it might take into account a few interpersonal skills. Honestly, though, even if communication skills are addressed in your performance enhancement plan, it’s seen as something you’ve done wrong. This approach leaves you full of shame as you find yourself forced to improve in that area. "Cindy could benefit from conflict resolution training" pretty much means you screwed up. Shame on you!
What's going on at work, is likely going on at home too
But think about it for a moment, if you are having trouble communicating with an authority figure at work, you likely find similar patterns in your personal life. Suppose someone consistently ends up in scuffles with their peers, take a step back and look at their whole life. You likely find her also repeatedly spatting with the other moms on her kid’s hockey team. If you have interpersonal problems at work, my dear, you also have them at home.
The things you struggle with are part of a bigger picture
3) If you aren’t growing, you get bored and bitter
Development doesn’t stop when we hit 18 years old. It changes.
Less physically focused than we were in childhood and adolescence, the emphasis on adult development shift to mental and emotional growth. To be happy, content, and to feel fulfilled we must continue to be growing.
We need to be stretched
The problem is, if we are not given opportunities to think outside the box, stretch our cognitive reasoning, learn innovative theories or develop fresh skills, we stop growing. We become stagnant. Boredom sets in. Our days become monotonous, and we start to resent our jobs. We get bitter and cranky.
It sucks to be a hamster
Even if we are busy and rushing around going to meetings, responding to emails, writing proposals and putting out fires, we can still feel bored. Apathy sets in. We become jaded. We just go through the motions of our day. Complacency becomes the way of life. This is the hamster wheel syndrome!
There is a reason you are here, now...
The truth is, we were meant to do meaningful work. We were put here on earth to contribute and to give back. We need to know that we are doing that. We need to know that what we are doing matters. We know we are making a difference often when we feel stretched in a good way.
We feel needed when we are doing something, that truly only we can do. We feel fulfilled when we are more than a mere workhorse, butt in the position or warm body filling a job description.
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.