Imagineering your Career

Last week I spoke at the Western Pennsylvania Health Information Management Association education meeting. My topic? What to do when your career is positioned in the midst of great change.

In healthcare (and most 21st century industries) change is the only constant. How do you plan, prepare and position yourself to ride the waves of change? I suggested to the WPHIMA session attendees, as I did in October to the members of the Great Lakes Region of the Association of Healthcare Data Integrity (medical transcriptionists), that the answer lies in a word that some of you may think is a bit mickey mouse-like when it comes to career planning: imagineering.

Before you bemoan the Disneyfication of yet another mundane area of life, let me correct that assumption. The word imagineering was actually coined in Pittsburgh in the early 1940’s by Alcoa. The term, a combination of IMAGINATION and ENGINEERING, was created at at time when the executives at Alcoa were encouraging engineers to think creatively about new ways to use Aluminum to drive demand (and of course, profits).

In my talk I suggested that these 2 actions are the perfect combination for a job overhaul, regardless of where you are in your career. Here are the steps I outlined for each category.

Engineering

These steps are career basics, but worth revisiting.

  • Update your resume, even if you’re not looking and perfectly happy with your career, because stuff happens.
  • Create, update or revise your LinkedIn profile.
  • Clean up your other social media sites. HR professionals love to surf FaceBook and other sites to get to know the real you.
  • Build a network list & develop a plan to stay in touch with people you no longer interact with on a regular basis.
  • Make a list of your current skills – easier to do when you’re comfortable than when you’re in a panic, trying to find a job.
  • Identify a service you can provide to your profession, and then schedule it. I’m referring to giving back. You cannot expect to GET until you GIVE.

 

Imagination

These steps may be new to you, or things you’ve heard and passed by. If so, it might be time to revisit them!

  • Define “who shows up” when you go to work (& I am talking about you). What kind of person are you when you’re at work? Positive or negative? Complaining or complimentary? Helpful or hurtful? Gossipy or gracious? It’s time to get real with yourself and make sure that the YOU at work is one that is a great fit, anywhere.
  • Using lists from your engineering brainstorm, write out some positive statements about yourself: “I’m a good listener”, “I am a great team contributor”, “I can write SQL code like a champ”, “I’m organized and detail-oriented”,…etc. Put these statements in places where you will see them daily.
  • Monitor the words that come out of your mouth. What you speak, you also hear so this is NOT the time to talk down your age, experience, aptitude or anything else. Speak positives into your life. Instead of “I’m too old to launch a successful job search” say “People with my level of experience are valuable!“. Instead of “I don’t have the right degree or connections” state “I have valuable contacts and my education serves me well in every way“.
  • Avoid people who sing the “ain’t it awful” chorus over and over. Our friends and associates impact our thoughts and our beliefs. If you hang out with a group of similarly-positioned folks, make sure it’s all about positive reinforcement and not a complaint clatch.
  • If you find yourself complaining, and your life isn’t moving in the direction you want it to, consider taking the Complaint-Free challenge! Go 21 consecutive days without complaining and watch your life change…

 

There’s an old saying: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice,practice!

This advice applies whether you’re practicing to be 1st chair violin in the symphony or simply trying to navigate your career in a fast-moving world.

  1. Prepare your professional documents
  2. Plant seeds within your network (and be sure to water them regularly!)
  3. Practice seeing good everywhere you look: in yourself, in the opportunities before you, in other people, and in life!

You can imagineer your career – and change the trajectory of your experience for the better!

Pittsburgh, PA
(( this blog originally posted on the author’s LinkedIn page ))
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