The journey towards a career that is fulfilling is one that involves a series of self-examination and honesty. Many of us have career goals we want to achieve and we have an idea of what our ‘dream’ career is. To get there, we have to be intentional, and we have to periodically question where we are now, and whether what we’re doing is leading us to our career goals/dreams. Do you ever take the time to check in with yourself and ask these questions? If not, you’re in luck. Below are 5 reflection questions you can use to evaluate where you are in your career journey and determine if you’re on the right track.
Am I satisfied with where I am?
Admittedly, this is a broad question. It could further be categorized into; Am I excited about the work that I do? Do I feel like I’m adding meaningful value? Am I utilizing my strengths fully? Do I enjoy working with the people that I work with? Am I growing? Do I feel excited going to work or do I dread it? All these questions and more, when truthfully answered, can help you recognize if you’re satisfied, or, if you need to disrupt what you have been used to. Sometimes, when we’re in a comfort zone, it can be easy to dismiss valid emotions about our careers because we worry that there may not be something better out there, or are afraid of putting ourselves in situations of discomfort. As the saying goes, “If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.”
What am I doing or not doing, that is hindering my career progression?
If you’re aware of where you want to be in your career in a few years, it’s worth asking yourself if you’re doing the right things that will get you there, and if you aren’t, how is this hindering your progression? For instance, if you’ve been thinking about venturing into a different career, are you seeking out professionals in that field who may guide you into that transition? Have you done your research to determine what skills you would need to thrive in that industry? Have you sought out additional support and resources that you would need? If you’re not doing these things, then you’re certainly not on the right track. On the contrary, there are also things you could be doing that can hinder your career progression, for instance; if you’re looking for a new job and you’re sending out job applications with unchecked grammar and spelling errors or are copy-pasting your CV details into application forms instead of customizing your responses, you’re doing things that go against what you want – a new job.
Are my values and needs being met?
Because our values and needs evolve, it’s important to first ask yourself if you have the same values and needs when you first started your career. Along the way, we get to accumulate different experiences, meet new people, learn new things that may feed into new passions or interests, and sometimes, start disliking what we do, and therefore, want to seek out new things; be it a new job, a new career path, pursuing our hobbies monetarily and/or starting our own businesses. Our values and needs play a critical role in making these important life decisions.
In what ways have I grown?
Reflecting on our career should also include monitoring our growth. Do you have a list of expectations or goals (learning, scale of projects, clients you want to work with, skills to develop, etc) that you wanted to have achieved by a certain time? If so, they should be included in your career check-in. You may discover that you have achieved what you set out to achieve and therefore decide that it is time to explore something new. Or, you may discover that you’ve achieved very little of your set goals, if at all, and therefore, decide to seek out opportunities where you are (if available) to achieve them or explore something new as well. Ultimately, this knowledge feeds into the decision making process.
What next steps should I take?
After you have answered all the above questions, it’s time to decide what next steps you need to take. For instance, if you want a new career. This may mean coming up with a career transition plan, are you able to do this by yourself, or would you need additional professional support? If you decide you want to look for a new job, what are all the things you need to do to prepare you for this process? You can find some tools here. Further, are you willing to put in the work required to help you attain what you want? We can’t emphasize how important it is for you to be deliberate about your career goals.
Check out this article we wrote with eight questions you should ask yourself at the end of the year, though December is still far, many of these questions are timeless. We’d love to hear from you, what other questions do you include when reflecting on your careers? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org, where you can also reach out to us about our career coaching services.