We have lived in our house for over 15 years and it wasn’t new when we got here. Over the years of raising a rambunctious family, the house has suffered from some chipped paint and plaster, dripping taps and a burst pipe or two. We’ve taken these things in stride, some we’ve managed to turn a blind eye to and others have required more immediate attention.
More recently, it became apparent that we could no longer ignore the state of the walls beyond our two bathrooms. The paint was peeling and plaster behaving unusually. Calls were made to the insurance company and they identified that the grout in the shower recesses wasn’t holding its own. Apparently, this stuff is not made to last a decade, let alone a lifetime and it needs to be repaired and replaced regularly to maintain its capacity to keep the wet areas separate from the rest of the house! Who knew?
This has created an uncomfortable time in a busy household. I’ve had to contact contractors, get quotes and be available for workmen coming in and out of the house to undertake the necessary repairs. With a family of teenagers, the scheduling of two bathrooms can be difficult but restricting ourselves to the use of one room at a time over several days had to be approached with military precision and conviction.
As I have been juggling these activities with my other responsibilities, it struck me that this is a similar process to that we face in ongoing careers. Many people will take a different approach to managing these housekeeping issues.
For instance, if I had regularly checked-in and scheduled, perhaps an annual review of the condition of those bathrooms, I may have noticed that the grout was looking tired and could have undertaken some short-term home maintenance to keep on top of the issue. Eventually, the replace and repair would have needed doing - but it would have been less of a process and probably not caused the damage to the external walls of those rooms and required less down-time, fewer workmen, less discomfort and reduced expense.
Career management is a little like my house. With regular review and care, you can identify the small shifts that need to be made to stay on course (or indeed, to check that the course you are on is still in line with your strengths and interests). This can result in undertaking small learning opportunities, shifts in behaviour or identifying new assignments (side projects) or roles that will offer improvement and refreshment along your career journey.
The alternative is to wait – as I did with my bathroom – for the wheels to fall off and be faced with a daunting project of rehabilitation which requires a large investment of both time and finances to return to the status quo.
When my bathroom walls have been repaired and repainted, no one will notice but me – despite the paint on those walls being fresher (which will probably lead to me having to paint the surrounding ones - more expense!) but I’ll know that the house will stand a little stronger for a little longer. More than this, my bathrooms look clean and sparkling and I’m enjoying them more and finding them easier to clean. I shouldn’t have to contemplate a complete remodel of these rooms for a few more years.
But I’ve learned my lesson and have set a date in my diary to conduct an annual review to ensure that I don’t miss any other small issues that could grow into big headaches. I wonder, what do you need to do to put your (career) house in order?
Here at Strategic Career Management, we love working with people to develop a career life plan that will work and grow with them through their career life-span. If you’re struggling with these issues, call us for a confidential discussion on how you can start your Planned Career Maintenance Program.