Over the years, I have become a “triple C”: a coffee career coach. My career started in HR, and I was fortunate to learn valuable lessons early on (both the inspiring kind and the ugly kind) about leadership, professional effectiveness and EQ from a broad spectrum of both remarkable and incompetent managers, courageous and withering employees, and brilliant and dishonest interview candidates. My work continues to provide opportunities to put these lessons to good use as I listen to others tell their stories and offer candid feedback about career choices, personal priorities and professional skills. My husband sometimes refers to my coffee career candor as ‘Dr. Phil moments’—unlikely a compliment, but indeed we owe it to ourselves to “get real” about what matters most.
So many cups of coffee with many people of all backgrounds and levels later, the common thread of what I hear is the desire to make a change and the endless pursuit of the perfect job. The simple (and hard) truth is this: prioritizing what you want and need RIGHT NOW is required to make that change successfully. As it turns out, what we need personally and professionally changes over time. What we need right now may be entirely different than what we needed five years ago and may be different five years from now.
Smart, capable professionals rattle off a long wish list of job attributes when asked: compensation expectations, flexibility, position content, organizational level, location, visibility, managerial load, work-life balance….and on and on. Fortunately, every job can be assessed against your wish list factors, but only you know which factor, which SINGLE factor is most important to you at this time in your life. Only you know when you have compromised on that single most important factor to the detriment of what you want and need right now. Make no mistake, it isn’t easy to “get real” and accept the fact that for many of us, a job requires compromise and trade-offs making it critical to establish your priorities. And sometimes, staying where you are actually makes the most sense, right now.
What to do? Make yourself a cup of coffee and get honest with yourself.
What matters most to you RIGHT NOW? Own your professional and personal priorities and pursue them. Assess each opportunity, including your current role, against your ranked list of priorities. When your priorities change, own and pursue those. Such is the hard work of leading your career and getting what you want.
You can have what you want, if you know what you want.
Acuity [uh-kyoo-i-tee]: noun (1) sharpness; keeness; intensity of vision. (2) knowing how to apply practically what one perceives or understands. (3) sharpness in intellect, insight or perception.