Proactively manage your career

People early in their career say “If I work hard, one day I’ll be a THIS.” THIS could be a CIO, Systems Architect, Senior Programmer, or any other professional goal you desire. Then, one day, years later, you look up from your day-to-day activities and realize one of the following . . .

  1. Wow, I am now a THIS and I love it!
  2. Wow, I am now a THIS and I hate it!
  3. I have tried my best to be a THIS and can’t quite get there, but I have done my best
  4. I’m not a THIS and don’t think I’ll get there because I didn’t really put together a plan to get there.

If you are early in your professional career, one of the above four scenarios will most likely come true. If you are further along in your career, like me, one of these four scenarios may already be at play.

If you fall into Category #1, you probably either planned well or were very lucky. If fact, maybe it was a little of both. Congratulations, you are in the minority and should be very proud of both your achievements and for creating a plan that helped you get there.

If you fall into Category #2, congratulations are still in order. Well done. You have reached a goal in your working career that you fought hard and long to attain. You should appreciate your achievement. The trick for you now is to decide how you can use your past experiences and success to move toward your next goal. Remember, for motivated people, professional growth is a lifelong journey, not a destination.

If you fall into Category #3, there is satisfaction in knowing that you fought the good fight. Also, I have learned that life is not a race, as stated above, it’s a journey. If you think your goal may still be attainable and you still wish to achieve it, rework your plan and continue your efforts. If you think your goal is truly out of your reach, consider setting sights in a different direction. After all, Colonel Sanders started Kentucky Fried Chicken in his sixties.

If you fall into Category #4, know that it’s never too late to begin planning. Assess your skills, your successes, and your desires and move forward.

Now, back to those early in their careers, if you truly know what you would like to be ten or twenty years from now, good for you because many people don’t know. If you don’t know or haven’t seriously thought about it, it could be of great value professionally for you to do some soul searching and introspection as to what you think you would like to do.

All that said, just knowing what you want to be isn’t enough. As the saying goes, hope is not an action plan. Do your research, find a mentor, investigate potential future options, assess your skills, and create a plan to get to your desired goal.

  • Will your plan change as time goes forward? Yes.
  • Will your goals change as your career progresses? Maybe.
  • Will you career go exactly as planned? Most likely not.

Will a plan help you move ahead professionally toward your goal? With good planning, hard work and a little bit of luck, yes.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

ITWorld DealPost: The best in tech deals and discounts.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon