Sounds a little contradictory, doesn't it? Aren't you supposed to work at work? Doesn't your career progress based on your work? Yes and No. Of course you are supposed to work at work. That's how you get things done. Unfortunately, most executives spend too much time working and not enough time on their career. What do I mean by career? Here are some examples:
- What is your 30/60/90 day plan for your career?
- Who do you know? Who do you need to know, meet and develop a relationship?
- Are the projects/initiatives you manage important/critical to your company? Which ones are?
- How is your company doing? How are your competitors doing?
- Should you stay or go to another company?
Most of the time, we get so caught up in the meetings, the emails, the reviews, and the interpersonal crises, that we lose our long-term vision. Worst-case, after 3-5 years, you are still doing the same-old-stuff, working the same old projects, with the same old people - and you are ripe for a layoff.
Your job is to look at your career through career glasses - monitor and measure where you've been, where you are, and where you're going. Regularly measure what have you accomplished, what are you doing right now, and what you're future prospects might be. Ask yourself the bulleted items above — you'll find that you will have direction, defined activities, and clear goals.
When you are on a trip (that's really what your career is - a loooong trip with regular stops), you need to always know where you are going to end up. If you don't, then it's just a ride — and you don't want to just coast through life.