In your professional journey, you experience key career moments that impact your direction and focus. To gain more control over your professional future, try viewing your career as comprised of two elements: these key career moments, and all of the work you do in-between. The important realization is that key events generate the content and quality of your work.
Some key career moments are predictable and others happen spontaneously, turning out in retrospect to be pivotal moments on your professional journey. These key events can last a few seconds, a minute, an hour or a few days.
The Four Types of Key Career Moment
The most recognizable form of key career moment is the transaction point; a job interview, performance review, promotion conversation and negotiation. Or the key conversation with a boss, investor or major client that has a transaction attached as an outcome. The opportunity to take on new work, a bigger role or a breakthrough contract for your services.
For most professionals, these transactions tend to occur every three years or so and impact and influence your future trajectory, income and opportunity scope.
Forks in the Road
Decision points are like forks in the road, situations where you must decide yes or no, this or that direction. Decisions around whether or not to pursue a project, engage in a professional development path, or say yes to an opportunity presented to you.
The effects of your decision making process and skills are long lasting. Bad decisions result in lost time, misery and sometimes damage to your reputation. And conversely, decisions that align with your professional identity can result in better outcomes.
Less obvious and potentially more impactful are the encounters along the road of your professional journey. You meet people and encounter ideas that inspire or provide insights. Conversations with mentors, a headhunter or a key person in your network. A piece of news, a book, speech or quote that creates a spark in your thinking.
The currency of the encounter is ideas, feedback, insights and inspiration. The effects of these encounters can dissipate quickly or be profound and lasting depending on how you embrace the encounter and do something with what you have learned.
Crisis & Adventure
Finally, you experience adventures and crises along the road of your professional journey. A crisis can include forced job loss, losing a strong internal champion, significant shifts in your business or with an employer and a change in the marketplace that makes your skills or expertise less in demand. An adventure can include delivery of a pivotal presentation, project, pitch or a product or landing a really big client.
By definition, crises and adventures are extra-ordinary events and how well we have prepared determines the impact of the event.
Managing Your Key Career Moments
What is the potential impact of these key career moments, in isolation and cumulatively? Career moments determine how you will be spending your time in the coming weeks, months and years and they can leave a lasting legacy on your resume.
In part 2 of Key Career Moments, I will explore strategies that can help you optimize the potential and minimize the risk of these career moments.