You Need A Strategy! Step 4. Call Out Your Assumptions

You’re halfway through developing your strategy for managing your career crisis! Congratulations! (If you are coming in halfway, you can catch up here.) It’s time to do a little CYA, because you know what they say about assuming, right? The whole ass-u-me thing? Well, assuming also means that you are basing your entire argument (or strategy, if you don’t really like confrontation) on a premise without proof that it is even true! You could be building your strategy on something solid (a foundation) or something really shaky. (Insert House of Cards reference here!) key-74534_1280So understanding your assumptions is key.

First, you want to call out your assumptions so that you know what they are. Awareness is always the most powerful thing you can do to solve a problem. More accurately stated, nothing happens without awareness – except accidents. You don’t want your career strategy to be an accident, right? You want to manage it. So spend the time to think through what your assumptions are. Here are a few tricks for finding assumptions. Take a critical thinking approach, and look for gaps or jumps in your logic, things that sound simplistic, naive or even dumb. Look for exaggerations. Look for emotionally charged conclusions. Give extra focus to the assumptions that are limiting or constraining. Talk to someone you respect who has a different perspective than you have, lay out your thinking and ask them to point out where they don’t “jump” to the same conclusion you do. Aye, matey, thar be assumptions!

Next, you want to check your assumptions. Are they true? Are you basing your entire strategy,  career, maybe even your success on an assumption that is wrong? Take the time to do a little research to make sure that your assumptions really are true. Maybe they were at one time, but aren’t anymore. The world changes pretty quickly these days! For example, you may be assuming that you must have a specialist degree to get a promotion you want, but is that true? Do you have comparable experience that an employer might value just as highly? You don’t have to check every single thing, but certainly check the foundational assumptions! These make great networking questions, by the way!

Finally, challenge your assumptions. This is really the most important step, because it begins the process of creative problem solving. Start with some of your limiting assumptions. So even if something is true, does it have to be? Are you accepting a constraint that doesn’t have to be there? Can you see any way around this assumption? Use the “what if I did know?” trick from Step. 2 to see what you might come up with as a solution! You might surprise yourself.

Once you’ve called out, checked and challenged your assumptions, you are ready to begin doing something that is extremely empowering: choosing.

Up next: Step 4. Choose.
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This is Part 5 in the blog series: You Need A Strategy(Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4) No matter what is going on in your life or your career, creating a strategy is one of the most empowering things that you can do to guarantee success and happiness.

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In the midst of a career crisis or transition? Sound like the kind of things you’re thinking about? Want help thinking through your strategy? Request a Strategy Session. Email to set it up: maggie@talktomaggie.com.

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