Career Emergency Preparedness Planning for 2011

Career Emergency Preparedness Planning for 2011

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At Barton Career Advisors we have found it to be exciting to have the opportunity to interact with professionals from many different disciplines and practices such as healthcare, financial services, pharmaceuticals, insurance and education.  If you are curious about the work that your friends and colleagues do every day you pick up a few nuggets of wisdom here and there.  WE give a shout out to our many IT and disaster recovery friends over the years for helping with this CareerFlash™. Specifically, the concept of implementing a Career Emergency Preparedness Plan (C.E.P.P.) came from countless hours and meetings with those devoted to business continuity in the face of the worst possible scenarios.  Yes, there is an entire profession devoted to ensuring businesses are ready for emergencies.  If a tornado hits, the business is ready. Building burnt down? The business has a plan and has been doing quarterly fire drills. If there is a snow storm affecting mid-west operations, capabilities get moved to the south-west. It begs two questions:

  1. If businesses plan and devote resources to the protection of assets and capabilities, why don’t individual professionals?
  2. As a professional do you have a Career EPP to weather the storm of career transition?

An EPP for professionals contains three core components that prepare an individual for the worst of times in career crises.  This is illustrated in a simple acronym- Exercise Plan Pray.

Exercise is perhaps one of the most important life sustaining habits for professionals exposed to the daily rigors of demanding leadership roles.  This concept goes well beyond the narrow thoughts of taking care of your physical health through regular movement.  Our mental health and spiritual well-being are vastly improved through the process of “sharpening the saw” as made famous by Stephen Covey.  Exercise in the purely physical sense has many published, researched benefits for the human body.  The number one advantage to old-fashioned exercise as published by the Mayo Clinic is the improvement of our mood.  Who can’t leverage this benefit? Beyond this, consider the critical nature of exercising your grey matter through a regular reading list on topics that not only entertain but inform.  Additionally, make time to feed your personal hobbies and passions (including family) so that resentment does not create hostility toward the sacrifices you must make for your career.

Having a Plan for “career emergencies” and the act of daily planning are inextricably bound together by necessity.  How can one plan for the future if one is not willing to make a to-do-list for today? This is where the discipline of professional focus comes into play.  Within the “art” of planning the “duty” of goal setting manifests itself.  We need a road map to get to a destination and we must have a plan to make a career long journey. Just as we plan for a family vacation, prepare for that big presentation or take steps toward losing 10 pounds, we must document what we will do in the event of involuntary career transition. Better yet, let’s come up with a plan to identify the signals that lead to major career changes. Among other items on your checklist to mitigate the effects of career transition, you should plan around the following questions- How strong is my current network of contacts and what can I do to develop it? Do my search materials set me apart from the crowd and do they reflect the most recent writing principles? Have I chronicled a quantitative set of wins to share with others?  Do I need additional education or certification to update my skills? Have I allotted enough time to manage the stress of my career on a daily basis? Do I need professional help to prepare for a transition? Answering these questions and taking action will ensure that a company downsizing does not turn into a personal career apocalypse.

We tread lightly on the concept of Prayer because I understand the diversity of spiritual beliefs in our society.  However, we tell anyone who asks on a personal level about the importance of prayer as a powerful cornerstone in our preparedness planning.  When all else fails, meditative reflection enables a fountain of serenity that can come from no other place. In a December 2009 article written for the Harvard Gazette (“Want to Live Well” By Alvin Powell Harvard Staff Writer Thursday, December 17, 2009) Cheryl Giles a professor at Harvard Divinity School said-

…spiritual practice — regardless of personal belief — should not be limited to Saturdays or Sundays but should be part of every day. Giles recommended that people find quiet time each day for meditation, prayer, journal writing, or other forms of reflection. It’s an important exercise, she said, that helps people to avoid being consumed by routine daily demands.
“You should take 10 minutes, 15 minutes a day to sit down and be silent,” Giles said. “All this stuff goes through your head. This is an opportunity to let it out.”

Take the necessary time to invest in yourself and invest in your professional future by developing a Career Emergency Preparedness Plan.  You will not regret it.

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