Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Career planning 2: mapping out your career path

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on April 24, 2017

This is my second installment to a series in which I seek to break open what can become a hidden workings, self-imposed black box construct of career strategy and planning, where it can be easy to drift into what comes next rather than execute to realize what could be best for us (see Part 1.)

I wrote Part 1 of this series with two goals:

• To offer an organizing preview summary of at least a significant number of the basic issues and approaches that I will address in it, and
• To offer a more specific starter list of specific topic points that I will expand upon as I begin to flesh out that organizing summary into an at least hopefully actionable narrative.

I define, think through, plan, execute and refine career planning and development in forward-looking and proactive terms. And I mentor and train others in this area of endeavor in the same way, so summarizing what is to follow here in outline as a series beginning simply follows the approach that I would most strongly recommend for this.

The first point on my specific starter list from Part 1 can be thought of as carrying through on a jobs and careers mapping exercise, and as a matter of iteratively constructing and refining an ongoing two dimensional road map for what is to come. As essential background reference for this exercise, I repeat here a basic reference that I offered in Part 1 where I define and discuss a key term that I make use of in what follows: the constraints box. See Job Search and Your Constraints Box. And with that reference in place, and reorganizing and expanding the first to-address point from Part 1 as a starter for this installment, I stated that I would discuss here:

• A Timeline as representing one axis of a map to be,
• And what a career developer would look for in the way of sought-after goals and priorities, as being positioned along the second axis: a string of constraints box solutions for a succession of here-and-now career planning decisions, as the contents of that box shift and change over time – and with each of this succession of constraints box understandings treated here as if single set points for specific instances in time. To clarify that, consider each complete constraints box solution that is with time arrived at, as a single and essentially indivisible organized consensus point for purposes of this mapping: a single cohesive element and not as a more complex array of separate constituent parts, and with each such constraints box understanding, arrived at in its own time and place circumstances, aligned as separate and distinct points with respect to their own axis and along the timeline axis too.
• Then a mapped path forward becomes a journey from constraints box goals and understandings to constraints box goals and understandings, as they shift and change with time, and during the course of seeking out and working at specific jobs and over the course of a developing overall career path.
• And think of these two parameters: time, and goals and requirements, as together creating planning map patterns.
• Understanding where you have been in your goals and requirements and needs leading up to your current here and now can help inform you as to what you might find yourself preferring now and in the future and why.
• The more fully you can know how your goals and needs have changed up to your current now, the more fully you can know and understand your current perspectives on this. And the more fully you understand this progression, the more effectively you can plan and execute to reach those goals – and the more fully and meaningfully you can select the right next ones to work towards too, as your circumstances and needs continue to evolve.

Yes, mathematically speaking this map description means you’re in effect collapsing what might be multiple goals and needs considerations and dimensions down into a single flattened representation, and artifactually into a single seeming-dimension. But I offer this approach more as a thought piece and metaphor than as an explicitly mathematically mappable tool. And ultimately, when we make career decisions and follow through on them, we do so on an overall conclusions and consensus basis anyway – and with our planning for what to pursue next, a process of filtering and prioritizing what we have brought into our constraints boxes to reach single comprehensive path-forward goals and plans. We may start with a diversity of inputs in our decision making processes, but ultimately we arrive at a single conclusion that we would seek to follow through upon: a single point of conclusion and intended action if you will, that we actually pursue. So this metaphorical model, flattened as it is, does in fact at least somewhat mirror the planning processes that would actually be taken and certainly when decisive next step moves are arrived at.

Mapping details of that sort aside, the primary point that I am getting at here in this posting is important. Constraints boxes offer real value in the specific here-and-now situations and contexts that they are developed in, as immediate use planning tools. But they take on new levels of meaning and value as you track how they change and evolve, as you work and as you pursue your career, and as you live the rest of your live and participate in the live of your family where those larger contexts provide much of the shaping impetus for your work and career life.

I take a very visual approach to mapping out and understanding ongoing processes of this type, and in thinking through business contexts as well. Seek out the metaphorical and other representations that would help you to bring this into focus in meeting your own needs, if my road map analogy: my mapping metaphor does not work effectively for you. I offer this tool as one possibility that I find useful and that I have shared with others.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will address the second numbered topics point as initially offered here in Part 1:

• Thinking in terms of where you are now, and in terms of next possible steps that you might take now to specifically reach where you seek to be next.

This, in anticipation of discussion to come, is where initial planning first turns to initial action and follow-through.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.

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