As an officer in the United States Air Force I often heard the phrase “If you don’t have a plan, you are planning to fail.” This wise counsel is not only great advice for leaders preparing for combat operations but it is crucial for those in the job market today looking to have success finding a job, launching a new start-up business, or working to reach long-term career goals.
The reality is that without help it can be hard to build a plan and then execute it. With a trusted mentor or advisor helping us it can be much easier but it will still require time and thought to put it all down in a written document so we can reference it regularly and make sure that we are on track.
First of all, we need to know where we are and where we want to go. When you are orienteering in the woods, knowing your location is a critical first step to getting to your final destination.
You might think, “I know where I am…I’m a student looking for a job” or “I’m about to launch a new start-up company.” Unfortunately this is not what we are talking about. We need to go deeper. Who you are can tell you where you are. Finding out about who you are, your gifts, skill-sets, desires, and values will tell you where you are in life. This is your starting point. From there you can build a career plan that will maximize your talents and gifts to help you achieve a life of meaning and purpose.
This may sound strange but finding out about YOU is the best place to start. We have all heard wise counselors give advice to people to be themselves, go against the current, take a different path, or don’t follow the herd. This is great advice but I want to tell you about when we should go with the current not against it.
The Bible says that “everyone is fearfully and wonderfully made.” God made each of us as unique as a fingerprint. You and I are totally different and there will never be another person like us…EVER! God has given each of us special talents, skills, desires, and passions in his unique design for our lives. When we understand how we are hard-wired and we pursue a career that is in total alignment with our skills, life is much easier. It is like we are swimming in a river with a powerful current that is helping us reach our destination. If however, we don’ understand how we are made with our unique values and talents, we could find ourselves on a path of study or in a career where we are misaligned and that is when life is extremely difficult. Every day it feels like we are swimming upstream against the current. It is hard work, painful, and sometimes full of misery. If you know someone who is struggling in life and not happy with their job or course of study, it is possible they are misaligned in a key area of their life.
So how do we find out who we are so we can begin to build a life plan and start our journey? Over ten years ago multiple Professors and Ph.d candidates at the University of Georgia set out to design a unique assessment to help people begin this process. After thousands of hours and millions of dollars in investment Career Direct was born. Over 250,000 people have used this assessment to build a life plan and make sure they were in alignment with how God made them.
I highly recommend this service as the starting point to understand your skills, talents, values, and goals. Once you know this you will better understand where you should invest your time in your course work and in the workforce so you can maximize these gifts to help you achieve your goals. You will live a life of purpose and meaning because you will be aligned with how you were made. My close friend, Handre DeJongh from South Africa is a trained Career Direct Consultant having done over 1,200 personal in depth consultations and he says that a person living life that is misaligned is like tasting bitter coffee. Life is too short to live bitter…it is time to live better! Crown offers counselors like Handre who will walk you through this program and help you understand your results and guide you in creating a life plan to reach your objectives so you can live a life of passion and fulfillment.
Once you understand yourself deeper and have clarity on your “life plan” it is now time to build an action plan to achieve your goals. For business owners and entrepreneurs the next step is developing your business plan. I recommend the Venture Analysis. Wade Myers as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) would charge Fortune 500 clients $60,000 to start this process. He took the exact formulas, charts, and analysis and developed the Venture Analysis and Start-up Financial Model that all entrepreneurs could afford. Whether you are launching a start-up or running an established business you will be amazed at the insights and information this analysis will give you about your operation.
Once we understand our talents and skill sets and have a business plan that we can execute against the next step in our process is all about avoiding ANCHORS!