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How to own your career strategy by thinking like a CEO

Voco Team

There’s an old saying that no one cares about your career as much as you do. And it’s bang on. While many enlightened employers know that happy, fulfilled employees are critical to a company's success, and therefore invest heavily in resources and programmes that drive engagement; it’s hard to maintain a perfect balance of shared interest over the course of someone’s entire career. 

Sure, while things are going well, it can feel like you’re totally winning at career-ing, and that your employer is firmly in your corner. But when a moment of disconnect occurs between your ambitions and aspirations and your organisation's needs and objectives, the fragile equilibrium can shatter and leave you feeling dissatisfied and disillusioned. In fact 85% of people say they’re currently disengaged in what they do.

Yet despite this potential conflict of interest, all too often we cede ownership of our careers to our employers. We wait for direction or investment from our managers and leaders, and we hope that we’ll be nudged up the mythical ladder. Even when we do take action, it’s usually at times of crisis, and we expect our organisations to step in to offer a solution - whether it’s a training course, a mentor, a coach - and we get frustrated if they don’t.

Conversely, many of us are happy to invest in ourselves on a regular basis when it comes to other parts of our lives. From gym memberships and fitness trackers; language apps and meditation guides; to balanced meal kits and dating app subscriptions; we’re open to splashing the cash if we see a tangible benefit to our wellbeing and happiness. 

But on average we spend at least eight hours a day at work - that’s around 90,000 hours over the course of a career - without ever really considering if, and how, we should invest in our own career development. 

What if - instead of waiting until things go wrong - we took control of our own careers and thought about what we really want from work at every stage of the journey, rather than just at times of crisis? What if we thought about our careers as businesses in their own rights - with ourselves as the founder or CEO?

So how can you actually do that? Here are three suggestions for how you can start thinking of yourself as the CEO of your own career:

Invest in yourself

All successful businesses require investment - whether it’s time, money, energy or all three - so thinking of your career as a business requires you to decide what and how much you’re going to invest in. 

And remember that any and all investments in yourself are valuable. Whether it’s learning something new, spending time reflecting on your goals and ambitions, or joining a community like Voco that will help you make the progress you want; investing time, effort and cold hard cash into your own career development can reap big rewards in terms of competencies gained, connections made and confidence built.

Build your own personal board of directors

Businesses have boards for a reason. Not only do they drive accountability, but they provide diversity of thinking and experience. Building your own personal board of directors for your career can really help drive things forward. And as you’ll be able to access different, valuable perspectives; you can choose how and when to act in specific situations, rather than waiting for direction.

The trick is to build a team of objective advisors who can challenge you, support you, introduce you to new ideas or people, or simply be there when you need a sounding board. 

Move fast and break things

Tech companies are widely admired for their ability to innovate at speed and not be scared to break a few things along the way. You can apply the same thinking to your career strategy; try out new ways of doing things, or take some risks that push you out of your comfort zone and don’t fear making a few false steps along the way. 

There’s a lot of talk about ‘pivots’ and ‘swerves’ when it comes to careers these days, but it’s important to remember that those changes can just be small experiments along your journey, they don’t have to be huge life-changing decisions. Just try things out - like a start-up would - and see what works for you. 

By joining Voco you can invest in your own career journey by connecting with a diverse range of peers for structured and effective conversations that can help you get what you want from work.

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