No one has ever looked out the window to notice to their surprise that a beautiful lush garden was now growing in their backyard. You don’t expect large bright colored tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and melons suddenly growing without work or preparation. No, this type of garden, like great architecture, a great marriage, or a great work of art involves inspiration, planning, and execution.

Your career will be no different. Unfortunately, too often, we start a career as best we can with limited self-understanding and well-meaning advice from family and friends. But then, rather than cultivating and working at creating a satisfying career, we get caught up in the routines and obligations of daily life. If we are not careful, our career becomes a series of reactions to things that are happening around us rather than something that is inspired, planned, and managed.

For many, turning the corner to the New Year becomes the moment of inspiration, when they are awakened to the fact that things could and should be different.

If you are ready to perform an Annual Career Self-Examination, start by considering the current state of your life and work. What are you happy with? What do you want to change?

Now consider your desired state. What do you want your life and work to look like? Take some time to reflect on this.

Finally, what are the realistic and, as much as possible, measurable steps you can take in the coming year?

Here are some questions for reflection, and a link to a worksheet if you would like to use it:

  • To what degree are you enjoying your work?
  • Are you happy with the contribution you are making in the world?
  • Are you growing personally? Are you feeding your soul? Are you reading and being inspired by great ideas?
  • Do you have clarity about your strengths? Do you know what you do well and therefore have confidence in your abilities?
  • Do you communicate clearly, effectively and persuasively about your strengths? Do you have a strong personal branding message?
  • Do you have goals for your life and career? If so, are you satisfied with your progress in attaining these goals? If not, what would appropriate and reasonable goals be?

As you know, people often have great moments of inspiration in January with grand resolutions and plans for change, only to abandon them as they are choked out by the responsibilities and busyness of life. As an antidote, consider scheduling time on your calendar well in advance (at least quarterly) for reflection, evaluation, and adjustment.


Download the .pdf worksheet here:


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