by Marie Kaddell, DC/SLA President
The summer months brings up thoughts of destinations. Sun drenched vacations at the beach. Fun-filled road trips across the country. An Alaskan cruise. An airline ticket with your name on it to an exotic location. Or maybe just all the comforts of home with a staycation.
For me, it draws forth a restful picture of one whole week in Ocean City, MD reading in the sand with a big glass of iced tea always at hand—sun shining like it’s got a big smile on its face, the waves and the music on my iPod blending to make the perfect song.
What about you?
Have you been somewhere wonderful this year for a day, a week, or longer? What adventures and memories have you had or are you looking forward to having. What have your destinations been or what will they be?
What about from a professional angle? What about your professional destination?
Have you considered all the choices available to you? How are you planning to get there? Do you have a roadmap? What are you going to do when you reach your destination?
Here are a few thoughts on professional destinations:
Set a Course
Sometimes our daily work and the demands of life keep us from focusing on our professional goals and continued professional development. We stop thinking about our professional destinations in the midst of just taking care of our current responsibilities. But ask yourself—is this where I want to stop as a professional or is this just one destination on my greater path? Even with the most fulfilling job, there may be destinations within the workplace (or outside of it) you will want to travel to in time. Do you know what they are and where they are? Keep in mind that you can’t get where you are going if you don’t know where you are headed. As Thoreau said, “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Bottom line, know our direction and if you don’t know it, stop and figure it out. Then head toward it.
Plan your Trip
Once you know your direction, you need to plan your trip. Are there things you need to do beforehand to make your trip a success? For instance, if you are traveling to Disney World for a marathon, like DC/SLA President-Elect, Chris Vestal did recently; you’ll need to do some training prior to your departure and have some good running shoes on hand. It’s the same thing with our career. Are there tools you need to have in hand, education you need to get, expertise you need to find a way to build?
As you plan for your career destination, make sure you understand what capabilities and knowledge you need to obtain to help you move towards your professional destination and be successful when you get there.
Make the Most of the Experience
I have always believed that all the things we do on the way to getting to where we are going can come in handy when we get to our destination. That’s not just what we learn in school and through formal training. It’s what we learn through the volunteer work we do. It’s what comes out of the relationships we build through professional associations like SLA. It’s the expertise we develop from serving our community, our colleagues, our family, and our friends. It’s what we gain from taking that extra step – to learn a little more than we think we have to, help a little more than we think we need to, and connect beyond the borders we find it easiest to stay within.
August is just a drop past the first half of the year. It’s a great time to make mid-course corrections and still have a significant impact on how we use our time, energy, and resources this year to reach a destination we’ve set our sights on.
Take a moment to consider where you’re trying to get to and make sure your sails are set in that direction. It’s okay if your direction takes some twists and turns. You’ll learn from that too. And while you are doing all this traveling towards where you want to get to, please make sure you are deriving the greatest value possible as a member of DC/SLA. Come to a session or attend a webinar and learn something new. Sign up for an event and build your professional network. Get involved in a big or small way in DC/SLA and build your expertise and knowledge.
And while you are doing all that, remember to enjoy the journey. Everybody knows half the fun of the trip is getting there.