Just as visiting the doctor for a yearly check-up helps support your best physical health, taking your car in for routine inspection helps maintain its best performance.
What about your career? One of the best ways to determine if you’re on the right professional path — or if you need a career tune-up — is to conduct an annual career assessment.
A career coach can help you take an objective look at where you are — vis-à-vis where you want to be — in your professional life. Are you functioning at your highest potential, aligned with your long-term career goals? Is it time to acquire some new skills, seek new challenges or switch gears?
Conducting an Annual Career Assessment: 5 Career Coach Questions
Perhaps the biggest benefit of conducting an annual career assessment is that it allows you to identify — and address — any potential problems before they take a long-term toll. It can also open the door to myriad opportunities.
Following are five questions to ask yourself when assessing your career:
- Are You in Alignment? When the tires on your car are out of alignment, you slowly veer off course — sometimes without even noticing. The same thing can happen to your career if you shift into auto-pilot. Do your professional goals still resonate with you? Is your current job taking you off course, or helping you achieve your long-term career goals? If you find yourself drifting, what actions can you take to put yourself back on the right path?
- How Are Your Brakes? The ability to stop while driving is critical in avoiding accidents. In a similar vein, the capacity to disconnect from work is essential to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Many of our career coaching clients notice that their work-life balance gets off-kilter after their job becomes too all-consuming, affecting their personal lives. Check in with yourself and see if you are comfortable with the work-life balance that your career affords. Everyone needs a different amount of space, so your assessment is the one that matters.
- Are Your Signals Clear? Think about the chaos that would ensue if you didn’t have signals to let others on the road know your intent. Do you have open lines of communication between you and your boss, as well as between you and your co-workers? If you aren’t communicating effectively, consider possible causes — and solutions. Do you know how to effectively ask for what you need? Is there tension with a team member that you need to resolve? Communication issues can be a red flag, signaling a need for action; pay attention to them and consider what actions you can take to improve your professional relationships.
- Are You Running Efficiently? With a car, emissions testing can show if it is burning too much oil or gas, impacting its performance. In your career, the signs may be harder to discern. If you notice that you tend to be less engaged in your work than you once were, it might be a sign that you’ve outgrown your job. Are you less productive? It might be time to reevaluate if this job is right for you, if you need to add new projects to the mix, or if you need to work toward a promotion that will provide new challenges.
- Are You Healthy? You need to continually refuel your car in order to keep it running. Your career should energize you in the same way. How is your job impacting your overall well-being? Many of our career coaching clients report feeling “out of gas,” mentally and/or physically depleted. Does that sound familiar? Many people experience work-related stress and anxiety that makes every day feel like a struggle — with little or no reward to balance the scale. A career coach can help you decide if it’s time to overhaul your career, or if you can make minor shifts to add more meaning to your current job. They can also train you to better manage your thoughts, moods and perceptions in order to approach your days with more energy.
How to Read the Results of Your Career Assessment
Taking the time to perform a career assessment can help identify areas in need of improvement and/or further exploration. When you are cognizant of what is and isn’t working in your career — and you have the language to define problems — you can begin to fix them. It can also help you set tangible goals, whether that means taking on new projects, enhancing your skill set or shifting into a new role. This clarity can translate into a greater sense of control over your career — and your life.
Have you performed a career assessment this year? What changes have you made as a result?