Time for a career MOT?

Summer is a great time to take stock on your career. Whether you have time off or not, most jobs slow down a bit as customers take their holidays, so why not take advantage and reflect a bit on your working life? Or use the longer evenings to do this if you don’t have a chance during the day! Doing a career MOT is not just for those unhappy in their jobs/careers, I believe it is equally important to do even if you are thriving.

 

So why is a career MOT a good idea?

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Most of us just plod along, maybe both in our jobs and in our lives. I know I did for most of my corporate career. I worked hard to achieve the company’s and team’s goals but often without a personal or inner intention. Monthly, quarterly and yearly goals and achievements all added up and before I knew it several years had gone by. When we don’t have, or don’t know, our own personal intentions for why we work and invest time in the job we currently do, it can lead to dissatisfaction, specifically in the long run.

Wouldn’t it be great if we felt a purpose most days at work? If we had a real reason and intention, maybe even a long-term goal for doing what we are doing? Having an inner resolution often means we are aligned with our values and purpose hence feeling more satisfied and happier as we are living a more meaningful life. Doing a career MOT, or career audit if you like, is about looking at your career in a very structured way. Asking yourself questions in order to get clarity about your career to date and also how you want it to look in the future. It’s about creating a roadmap for yourself that consists of clear goals as well as purposes. A roadmap that you can use to ensure that you are heading in the right direction, using the most direct path.

 

How do I go about it?

There are a few things to reflect on when you do a MOT of your career. The common way of listing pros and cons is a good start. But go a bit further! Once you have your list of what you like and dislike about your current job, go back to each point and expand – why do you like x, why do you dislike y? Say for example you listed that you like your colleagues, creating an understanding as to why can give you useful clues. You might for example like the social aspect you have, the after-work activities and the memories you then share. Or, you might like your colleagues as they have a wide skillset and you enjoy learning from them. Understanding the why helps you see what is important to you and what is less so, aiding you to create that roadmap I mentioned earlier.

Other questions to reflect on are for example;

  • At work, what am I specifically good at?
  • What are the tasks that I really enjoy doing? Why?
  • What am I not doing professionally that I would like to be doing?
  • What uniqueness do I bring to my career? (Think skills and qualities.)
  • What skills and abilities are not being properly used or fully realised?
  • Three to five years from now, what would I like to be doing? What would I like to have achieved? (Think about goals you might have, things you want to learn, money you want to earn, quality of life etc.)
  • What is important to me in my work life?
  • What are my needs in a job and what are my wants? (Needs being your minimum requirements and wants the nice to haves.)
  • What motivates me?
  • How would I describe my perfect job?

Working out our purpose can be difficult (and deserves its own article/blog post - watch this space!) however you can start asking yourself questions like;

  • What important things do I want to achieve with my time?
  • What am I willing to work hard, or even struggle, for?
  • What issues are close to my heart?
  • What am I doing when I lose track of time?

When you know the answers to all these questions you will be more aware of what you want and of course, one step closer to making it happen.

 

Actionable advice

  • Be curious

Ask yourself lots of questions both about your current job and what you want for the future.

  • Write down your findings

When seeing it in black and white it is easier to see patterns or trends. It also makes it more easy to return to later to add or re-evaluate.

  • Create your roadmap

Once things are becoming clearer, write down what you want for the future. This will be your compass helping you along the way. Naturally, you can always adjust the compass as required. It’s useful to do a career MOT at least once a year to make sure you are on track and to see if any adjustments need doing.

  • Break down your goals into smaller tasks if needed

Your overall goal might seem daunting so breaking it down into smaller milestones will help keep your motivation going.

  • Make sure your goals are well defined

Research shows that goals that are properly defined are more likely to be achieved. An example of a poorly defined goal is; ‘I will work to become the best in my field’.

And a well-defined goal (SMART) would be; ‘I will review the latest research for my role on a monthly basis. I will also read at least one book a month and take a course at least every six months to make sure my skills and knowledge are constantly improving.’

 

Summary

Before you start to look at things like updating your CV, preparing for interviews, networking etc. it is always useful to have a clear idea about who you are, your drivers and goals. Doing a career MOT on a regular basis is a good strategy for making sure you understand what gives you job satisfaction and also, the opposite, what makes you feel drained. Whatever your aspirations are, understanding how you want to learn and grow in your work life will always be useful.

It can help you have a better dialogue with your manager to support you in feeling fulfilled. It can also tell you when the time is right to leave a job and why. You will be in control of your career, making sure you have an enjoyable journey whilst travelling towards the goal in your roadmap.

I'd love to hear what thoughts and ideas are evoked as you take time out to do your own career MOT, so please comment below!