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Making a Personal Plan

DESPITE THE FACT THAT I DO A LOT OF ORGANIZATIONAL PLANNING in my consulting work, it's been far too long since I've sat myself down and drafted a personal plan for my career and life.  I think the last time I did any real serious work on a personal plan was more than ten years ago.  'Yikes!' was my reaction when fellow consultant Linda Norris asked if I had one.  Turns out neither did she.  Nor several other colleagues she asked.  Hmmm.....
It wasn't long after that conversation when Linda called again with an invitation to attend a personal planning retreat at her house.  Starting tomorrow, five consultant colleagues are converging for 1.5 days of conversation, soul-searching, group problem-solving, and individual plan creation, and I, for one, am getting really excited about what I might contribute as well as bring home.
I think I've done a fair amount of preparation -- we kick the party off with a discussion about our past and current work and whether or not we see ourselves at a crossroad -- so I've spent some time thinking and writing about all of those things.  Since I'll be summarizing these issues for the rest of the group, I've created a big mind-map that I'll tape up on a wall that will help explain where I think my consulting has been and is now.  
The mind-map is a graphic representation of a short outline-cum-narrative I wrote first.  (I'll share the narrative, too.)  It's been a lot of fun (and work, too) developing the map, but it's really helped me to clarify my consulting past and present.  And most importantly it's helping me to think about the future.
Once each of us has presented our past/present/crossroad overview, the power of group work will take over.  Our plan is to use the group brain trust to help each one of us [re]focus and clarify our career aspirations for the 'next stage' of our lives (however each of us defines that stage).
I'm so glad to have the chance to put into practice what I advise my organizational clients to do all the time.  Our retreat starts tomorrow --- I'll let you know how I do.


Greg Stevens said…
Anne, great post!

I've been doing this type of activity for myself, for graduate students and for Career Cafe attendees at the AAM annual meeting for a few years now. I find the "career mapping" to be a tangible, tactile exercise, one that is extremely valuable in helping determine where you've been and how you got here, what motivates and inspires you, what your strengths and passions are.

Most people I've worked with really like the activity, even those who say they're not into "artsy-crafty stuff." While I'm admittedly a very "artys-crafty" person, I still think the mere act of drawing out a career map forces you to see your career/life in a different way, literally. And for folks who are not comfortable with this type of activity--well, getting outside your comfort zone is part of the challenge/fun.

I also find that asking two simple questions gets at the heart of the matter: 1. What are you good at? 2. What are you passionate about? I'm constantly amazed how little time/thought people give to these essential questions, especially the passion one. We're certainly not in this field for the money, so what else is there?

Love to chat with you more about this!

Best, Greg Stevens
lizzie bee said…
Hi Anne,

Thanks, I really enjoyed this post. It interests me because I am at a very early point in my career. Having just finished a masters degree in art history and museum studies, I am now actively searching for my first full time museum position (having worked in museums part time and in other fields full time before graduate school). Figuring out how to go about purposefully building the career that I've mapped out, while also worrying that there are no jobs available in the current economic climate is confusing and stressful to say the least. Regardless, I am hopeful that anything is possible, and I would love to hear any suggestions you or your readers have for career mapping at the start of ones career and in an economy like ours!

Greg, I got a lot of satisfaction out of trying to map my career. Now that the first planning meeting is over, I want to fill in that part of the map that I left blank -- the 'where am I going? part. I have a better idea of where I am (might) be going; mapping it will help my further clarify my thoughts.

Lizzie, thanks for your thoughts. We talked about the importance of career planning conversations at all stages and we're hoping to help facilitate some of them in the coming months and years. Given the current economy, it's absolutely critical to be proactive in career planning. I'm sure you talk with friends, former classmates and professors about this. They're your 'personal posse' who can brainstorm with you and critique your ideas. Keep your posse engaged -- maybe even do some collaborative career mapping.

If you go to the American Association of Museums annual meeting, be sure to participate in Greg Stevens' Career Cafe activities (see above). Or just email Greg for his thoughts.
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