How far do you go?
In home rennovation, I mean.
Twitter followers may know I've been renovating my little cottage. Some big jobs, some small. They key in a good home rennovation job is knowing how far you have to go when ripping things out to replace. Don't go far enough and the new repair looks as bad as what you repalced. Too far, too much work. And money.
Let's think about your career
Did you leave school with a nicely minted degree over five years ago without having done any professional development since? Uh, your warranty is up and you are no longer a current model. In the words of many a contractor, we can't get the parts for that anymore.
How about the other extreme? Never met a professional development class you didn't like? Do conference organizers world wide have your number on speed dial? You may be a learning junkie always in class or anywhere but on the job. In rennovation speak, you are the dreaded never-ending project.
Managing careers is more complex than home rennovation, yet the analogy works. Here are some thoughts to keep your career in shape.
- Keep your goals refreshed – You'll change where you live over time moving from tiny apartment to condo to 'burb to farm and maybe ultimately back downtown. Yet at every step there was a goal and you made a move for a reason. Your career deserves the same forethought. What do you want? Go get that
- Build a strong foundation – Exterior paint is easily changed, landscaping rearranged and mood lighting makes a big impression. But if the joists and beams are shaky you're in trouble. Take the time to build a stong base of knowledge so your career holds up better than the little pigs' home.
- Adapt as demands change – Shag carpet? Popcorn ceilings? Formal dining room? At one time all thought essential. How about your knowledge base? Are you a union expert in a union free environment? A payroll guru whose firm outsourced it years ago? Stay up with demands – carpeting is out
- Do things well – cutting corners in a renovation project will haunt you down the line. Taking the easy way out when building career cred will do the same. A rep as all-show and no-delivery is hard to shake. Make the total effort to do your work well and you'll build both a solid career and reputation
- Use a blueprint – the home remodel without a plan is a nightmare in cost and time with walls built in the wrong places. Have a basic plan and stick to it so you don't run from fad to fad ultimately ending up with a patchwork quilt of interesting but useless ideas. Move walls when you want to – not have to
Our careers are like homes in some ways at one point shiny, new and full of hope and promise. Along the way they both get that “lived-in” look as a result of, well, life.
Yet some careers stay fresh, interesting and up to date inviting others in while others – much like the neglected home – wear out faster and show their age as their owners refuse to make the investment in sweat equity to keep things current.
Take care of your house. Invest in your career. Follow your blueprint.
And give me the hammer.