We are rapidly approaching planning season, but with the recession, recent layoffs, and no way to predict what 2023 may have in store, planning for an unknown future may feel like a waste of time.
I’m here to tell you it’s not.
When there is uncertainty outside, you need to build certainty inside.
Planning is an anchor. It’s a way to keep moving in the right direction even if you are pacing a little slower.
How to approach career planning in uncertain times
Choose your goals
The first step to a successful career plan is to get crystal clear on what you want.
What is your career growth goal?
What skills do you want to learn?
How do you want to improve?
Where do you want to be at the end of 2023?
You’ll be tempted to assume planning in uncertain times means you need to make your dreams smaller. You know, more “realistic". Do yourself a favor, don’t limit your options before you even start. Dream big.
You can use this guide to set up your career goals.
Prioritize goals you can control
Some goals are completely up to, some require support from others.
Start with goals you can control. For example - learning a new skill by taking online classes is under your control. Getting assigned to a project with more visibility requires support from others. Starting with goals you can control means you are guaranteed to make progress, regardless of the outside world.
Stick to your goals, be flexible in the execution
“Goals in pen plans in pencil”.
Uncertain times require agility and flexibility so when a door closes, you can open a window.
There are different ways to achieve the same goals, if one approach didn’t work, try something else. Don’t write off your goals - pivot. Necessity is the mother of invention so get creative.
No headcount for direct reports? Go mentor a junior employee on another team
No visibility with relevant stakeholders? Run a free workshop or book club to get exposure
No raises this year? Ask for an exec sponsor. They’ll vouch for you when the budget is back to normal
Get moral support
Uncertain times can impact your mindset and your mood.
It’s hard to stay positive and motivated when everything around you seems bleak.
That’s why you need a support team. A person or a community of like-minded professionals who can lift you up when you need some encouragement.
You can find an accountability buddy and help each other stay positive.
You can join a community so you never feel alone in your struggles.
You can get a mentor or coach who will keep you motivated and accountable.
You don’t have to do this alone. Together is better.
Take small steps every week
The secret to achieving big goals is taking small steps consistently. Do one small thing for your career every week, and you’ll see massive progress by the end of the year.
To keep yourself accountable, schedule a 1:1 meeting with yourself. Use this time to plan the week ahead and commit to the small action you are going to take.
If you follow this process you’ll develop the habit of working on your career. It will allow you to stay consistent no matter what happens in the world.
Don’t wait for the storm to pass
It may feel like a good idea to wait for the storm to pass, but that’s actually the last thing you want to do. Many people will go into hibernation mode - they’ll stay still and do the bare minimum to survive. 12-18 months from now when the economy picks up and we experience the boom that follows a downturn they’ll get left behind.
You, on the other hand, will be at the top of your game. You’ll have new skills and experiences, you’ll have a bigger network, you’ll have some impressive wins on your resume and you will be the first in line for a promotion or raise.
You can use uncertainty as an excuse to lay low or turn it into an opportunity to grow your career.
Your career → Your choice.
I believe in you and I’m rooting for you.