It is far better to undergo difficult reflection and preparation
now than to regret not doing so later.
Even if you find yourself lost — five or 10 years down a
“wrong” path — it’s not too late. Any time is a good time to
create a career map.
TAKE ANOTHER LOOK
Once you have created it, you should revisit your map every two
years to mitigate the potential for getting lost on the journey.
Doing so also provides an opportunity to assess the accuracy of
your skills assessment and measure your progress in skill development. In essence, it provides you an opportunity to discover
whether you are on the right road before too much time elapses.
Important questions to ask when you revisit your career
• Am I still passionate?
• Am I continuing to develop new skills?
• Am I current within my industry?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then you
have encountered an “aha!” flag. Notice that I did not use
the term red flag. This is intentional. A red flag has negative
connotations. Aha flags actually are good things. They serve as
an internal GPS to help you progress according to your career
map. An aha flag is a repositioning notification that lets you
know that either you are off track or your map needs tweaking.
As we work our maps, we should remain mindful of feelings of dissatisfaction, boredom or lack of enthusiasm — all
of which signal that something is off. Aha flags can happen at
any time, not just during your biannual career map review.
A career map is not a passive exercise; instead, it is a progressive evaluation that ultimately leads to career satisfaction
As you pay attention to the aha flags that arise along your
journey, it is important to emphasize that your journey is just
that — yours. No one can tell you what road is the right one
for you to be on but you. Even if your path seems right to everyone
else, you may be heading in the wrong direction if it doesn’t
fill you with passion and excitement.
Resist the pressure to conform when creating or following a
career map. Ignore conventional wisdom that suggests an association professional’s career path should end at “destination
CEO.” Being a CEO is not the appropriate match for everyone’s
abilities or passion. And that’s OK. The only goal worth pursuing is to become the best in your field — to be a leader in
your position — whatever that position may be.
As you work your map, determine to be the “CEO” of whatever role you’re in. If you have chosen your destination carefully and honestly, following your career map should bring you
professional fulfillment and the kind of success that does not
come from the acquisition of a title or the attainment of a
position. If you work your map and revisit it often, you will discover that it is in the pursuit of happiness that there is joy,
and that is true success.
Nurys Harrigan, PHR, CSP, is president and CEO of Careers In Nonprofits. She
may be reached at (312) 523-2058 or firstname.lastname@example.org.