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Home > Publications > Quill > Career: 7 steps to get back on career track


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Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Career: 7 steps to get back on career track

By Carla Kimbrough-Robinson

You’ve seen the television miracles. Once fat, now slim. Once an ugly duckling, now a swan. Makeovers abound in primetime and even daytime.

Our industry is also facing a makeover, trying to spruce up its image to court the person who seems to have more fascinating distractions. Let the great minds try to concoct the potion that will forever capture the hearts, minds and time of our beloved audiences. Instead, why not examine an even scarier question: Do you need a career makeover of your own?

In the fresh hours of 2006, you may have resolved to lose a few inches and pounds; brighten your career prospects by making a move or change your life in a more meaningful way. By now — a few months later — those words you vowed so fervently may now simply be another dream gone by the wayside.

But don’t worry, if your resolutions involved your career, it’s never too late to do a little nip and tuck here and there in your career. Here are few steps to follow:  

1. Look in the mirror

Start with an honest assessment of your work. Instead of dreaming about what you did, jump into the library and really examine your work. How many great pieces did you produce? Were you productive? And, how good was your work? Did your audience respond with a chuckle or a tear? Did you ever hear a peep from them? If an awards committee said: Quick! Give me your best five stories, pictures, headlines or shows from the last year, would you have anything that you’re really proud of to bring to the table?

2. Request a second opinion

Sometimes we may feel we’re doing just fine, but a second opinion from a knowledgeable source helps. Request a meeting with your boss and ask for meaningful feedback about your work. What did your boss expect from you? Did you meet those expectations? What does your boss want or need from you in the coming months? Giving honest feedback is sometimes difficult for bosses to do, so encourage your boss to give you specific information that you can use to improve your performance. Then remember you can’t storm out of the room if you don’t like what you hear. Grin and bear it, then do something about it.

3. Create a plan of attack

A good plastic surgeon creates a plan before commencing with a makeover. Based on your assessment and that of your boss‚ sit down and create a plan for making 2006 even better than last year. You should know the definition of “better” as you embark on the journey.

Does “better” mean that you have three great examples of what you can do each quarter?

4. Spruce up your skills wardrobe

Your wardrobe essentials likely have changed over the years. Perhaps you need a few more skills to remain up to date. Commit to sprucing up the skills so that you won’t have to sit on the sidelines when the story of the year visits your town. Maybe your company cannot afford to pay your way to a conference, but if you know that it might be beneficial to your career growth and help you gain some new skills, go on your own dime. I always say, investing in yourself is never a waste, and it might be tax-deductible.

5. Don’t fear a change in scenery

Maybe you’ve had the same beat for a decade; it just may be time to try on a new look. If you’re not sure you want to say goodbye to a beat forever, then maybe there’s an opportunity to try another assignment short term. Not only will it be good for you to see another perspective, someone else may get the opportunity to grow and learn something new too. After spending some time there, you might see that a new scene is invigorating.

6. Get an accountability buddy  

Teamwork always helps you remain focused on your goal. A good buddy never forgets that you asked for accountability. You might be able to return the favor to your buddy by helping him or her stay on track with their goals. When I first began my training as a life coach, the instructors suggested that you have a coach of your own. It was great advice. My coach makes sure I follow through on the things I say I really want and helps me find courage to pursue my goals when the going gets a little tough.

7. Push yourself to stretch the limits

If you find that you easily reach your initial goals, you might not have been ambitious enough. Decide to go beyond winning the newsroom award and go for a state award, for example. Before you see the progress, you might feel a little pain if you’re really stretching yourself to do better work. Yes, it’s painful to fall down, but there’s a great feeling when you stretch and win.

You never know what you can achieve until you assess what you have done, determine how you can improve and pursue your action plan. If you remain focused, your career makeover could lead you to new opportunities within your newsroom or another newsroom. Once you’ve transformed your career, you’ll be a sight to behold and an inspiration to your colleagues. I’d say that’s worth a little nip and tuck here and there.


Carla Kimbrough-Robinson is a trained life coach with Inspire Higher International, based in Denver.

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