The IT journey is really nothing more than your career plan or goals that you have for your career. It’s the story of you. I call it the IT Journey because it’s a journey through the many phases of your life and not a sprint. It doesn’t have to be a defined plan of what you do, but it certainly helps if you have some sort of plan. Planning and defining your career goals is important because at some point in your working career you will want a raise or promotion. You WILL want more. You will want to take on more than just going to work and pushing buttons. We are humans and it is very natural for us to do that. Defining your goals, your desires for your career and where you are in a year, three years, or even five years helps you achieve more, but it also helps you know what your next steps are.
It feels like yesterday that I was just starting out in IT and my only goal was to find a job “fixing computers.” Back then I didn’t realize that I should’ve had some type of career goal or plan beyond finding a job and keeping it. It didn’t take me long to figure out that having goals would help me achieve more fulfillment. As I struggled to attain more than merely keeping my IT job, I began to understand the importance of defining what I wanted from my jobs and career. I had this itch for something more substantial. I was working like crazy, but my results were not happening. The promotions were not happening like I wanted them to. Some would say part of that was bias and some discrimination. I wouldn’t argue that wasn’t true because I am sure that had a lot to do with it. Either way, it was part of my journey and changes needed to be made if I wanted to achieve that “more.” It was like a turning point for me when I realized that defining what my journey was going to be like instead of the annual performance review nightmare. I took this time each year to reflect on what my journey was going to be like. Taking my journey by the horns allowed me to advance further in my career.
You own your life. Your career. You are the author of your story. Build it. Don’t let someone own that position in your life.
At the very least, set some goals for yourself. While professional coaches will tell you to set long-term goals, it can be difficult to do for some given the type of industry we are in. Technology moves so fast that what you are doing now may not be relevant in a few years. Make some short-term goals and long-term goals. Determine what success means to you. Is it working remote? Leading a team? Or as simple as specializing in a type of technology? Success means different things to different people. Envision yourself in 1 year or 5 years, and ask yourself, "What I do I see myself doing?"
Write those goals down and start a plan on how to achieve them. Create milestones that are more attainable and realistic. Be the executive producer of your story. When defining your goals, take it back to these simple questions:
1. What – What are my goals?
2. Who – Who does it take to help me get there? Do I need a supporting cast member?
3. How – How will I do it?
4. Where – Do I need to move or change jobs?
5. When - When does it happen?
When you reach milestones or achievements, reward yourself. Remember this is a journey, not a sprint, and you need to celebrate those wins in your life. There are going to be ups and downs. Success is a result of many failures. Learn from those mistakes to be a better you. Stay focused but also open-minded that the journey may take you down a different path from the original plan. The old saying, “you don’t do it until you try it,” holds very true, even when speaking about careers. You may realize that specializing in something isn’t what you like and decide to change course. That is perfectly okay. In fact, you should “recheck” your goals periodically to see if it’s still the correct path and what you want. You may discover, as people often do, that you as person changes. Your likes and dislikes can change over time, and this can affect how your career continues. Taking charge of your career, being that “star” role with how your journey is played out, will help make it successful for you.