What is the one thing most women do wrong in their career? They don't have a plan.
The reason I'm addressing this to women/female identified people today is that even though we have made huge strides, in the past few years especially, there are still deep rooted cultural expectations for us that are very different from men - and when it concerns our careers - there’s a huge, fatty double down. On a basic level, women lack support systems for success in our careers in the way that our male counterparts have.
Men have, historically and culturally, had access to these ‘good ol boy’ systems - these networking systems - this idea of reaching out to other male colleagues and saying “Hey I need a boost, I need a hand up, I need an introduction... can you help me out?” and of that being perfectly acceptable, where women have not. We've sort of been expected to take what we can get and just do the work in our careers and hope that we’re recognized.
I’m hot and bothered by the topic especially today because I met someone last night who told me that just after she had graduated with her advanced degree in mathematics she was at a networking dinner for new graduates and an older gentleman from one of the companies she was networking with leaned over and said “I notice you're not engaged yet.” That was the crux of his discussion… about her career. These things still happen. It is incredibly common and it's something that we, as women, need to address by forging very deliberate career paths.
How does a plan help? A plan allows you to set clear, concise career goals which allows you to build the support system you need - because you can then be specific when you ask for help. You need to have a plan is because at the end of the day, after all is said and done, you are your own best advocate.
There is no one else is doing the work of rooting for you the way you can.
If you take the time to create a plan, to outline what success looks like for you and what outcome you're working for - you can then tap into a network (and even create one) to help you achieve the goals that you set.
So how do you start creating a plan? I tell my clients that they should really think about two years out - five years is too long whereas two years doesn't feel inaccessible and super futuristic. If you know you want to be a CEO with a corner office in 7 years, great! What do you need to accomplish in the next two years to get you there? If you know you want to build wealth now so you can opt out of the corporate system ASAP, great! What do you need to do in the next 2 years to make that happen?
What this all comes down to is: you need to create whatever plan works for you but you have to have a plan. You have to know where you want to get so that you can build a roadmap to get there in a way that feels good for you. In away that allows you to do work that you want to do, that you’re excited about doing - work that is meaningful to you.
This is going to look different for everyone, but once you got all of this mapped out for yourself then you can see what milestones need to be met. From there you can create concrete goals. Goals that you can take to other people and ask them to help you out. Ask them for that leg up, for that boost, for that introduction. You can't just go to mentors or sponsors and say “Hey I want to make a lot of money and have a better job.” That could mean anything. However, if you go to them and say “I want to be SVP by next December how do we make this happen?” then they know how to help you.
Just to recap. You NEED a plan because having a set plan:
Allows you to set the right goals
Creates a clear path (i.e. the fastest way) to career success
Allow you to define success in the way that you want
Shows you where and how to get the help you need
So I ask you… where do you want to be in two years?
Yours in career goodness-
Want to create your plan? Sign up for my free Course: Career Design 101