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Strategic Thinking About Your Career

Strategic thinking about your career

I recently organized a think day for myself to outline the next steps in my career. If you are somewhere midcareer like me, and thinking about the next steps, this approach may be insightful.

Here’s the outline of the think day I designed for myself:

Theme: Envisioning and Shaping Your Academic Future


9:00 AM – 9:30 AM: Welcome and Intention Setting

  • Brief meditation or mindfulness exercise.
  • Set intentions for the day.
  • Journaling Questions:
    1. What are your primary objectives for today’s Think Day?
    2. How do these objectives align with your long-term academic goals?
    3. Where do you need more clarity or development in your career?
    4. What does success in your academic career currently mean to you?
    5. What are some challenges you’ve encountered, and how have they influenced your path?

9:30 AM – 10:30 AM: Session 1: Career SWOT Analysis

  • Conduct a SWOT Analysis of your academic career.
  • Journaling Questions:
    1. What are your key strengths in your academic career, and how can you leverage them more?
    2. What are some weaknesses or challenges you face in your career?
    3. What opportunities for growth can you identify in your academic field?
    4. What threats to your career should you be aware of, and how might you address them?
    5. How does this SWOT analysis reshape your view of your career path?

10:30 AM – 11:00 AM: Coffee Break and Reflection

  • Reflect on the SWOT analysis and jot down additional insights.

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Session 2: Long-Term Planning

  • Develop a strategic plan for your 10-year goals.
  • Journaling Questions:
    1. What specific actions will help you achieve your long-term goals?
    2. What resources or support will you need for these goals?
    3. What potential challenges might arise, and how can you overcome them?
    4. How do you plan to track and celebrate your progress?
    5. How do today’s reflections influence your future actions?

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Lunch Break

  • Time for a relaxing and rejuvenating lunch.

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM: Session 3: Supervising and Growing Your Research Group

  • Focus on the supervision of PhDs, postdocs, and research group growth.
  • Journaling Questions:
    1. How do you evaluate your current supervision style and its effectiveness?
    2. What strengths and areas for improvement can you identify in guiding your research team?
    3. How do you envision the growth and development of your research group over the next 5 years?
    4. What strategies can you implement to create a supportive and productive research environment?
    5. How can you balance the growth of your research group with the individual development needs of its members?

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Session 4: Personal Branding and Public Engagement

  • Evaluate and plan for enhancing your academic brand and engagement.
  • Journaling Questions:
    1. How do you currently perceive your academic brand?
    2. In what ways can you enhance your visibility and influence in your field?
    3. What specific steps can you take to increase your public engagement?
    4. What impact could a strong personal brand have on your career?
    5. How can you authentically communicate your expertise and passion to a broader audience?

3:00 PM – 3:30 PM: Session 5: Professional Network and Mentorship

  • Map and strategize the expansion of your professional network.
  • Journaling Questions:
    1. Who are the key figures in your current professional network?
    2. What gaps exist in your network, and who could you connect with to fill these gaps?
    3. How can you contribute to and benefit from mentorship in your career?
    4. What steps can you take to strengthen your existing professional relationships?
    5. What does your ideal professional network look like, and how can you achieve it?

Additional Tips:

  • Location: Choose a quiet and inspiring place where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Flexibility: Feel free to adjust the schedule to suit your energy levels and focus.
  • Tools: Ensure you have all necessary materials for a productive day.
  • Follow-Up: Plan to periodically review your progress and adjust your plans as needed.

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