Begin With the End
I have been writing a series of posts on Career Management for Pharmacists. I am doing so, not because I consider myself the know-it-all of pharmacy careers. I’m not. I do however, like you, know something about this subject. I have been a pharmacist for 20 years; nearly 30 if I am allowed to count my years as a pharmacy tech and then intern while attending pharmacy school. But more importantly, I have blessed to be able to do what I have WANTED to do in my own career, and this has been the result of embracing the principles I’m writing about. By the way, the things I’m suggesting are not rocket science. Nor are they restricted to just pharmacists. When embraced and applied I believe they will help just about anyone improve their career situation, allowing them to get the job they want or the independence they long for.
Dr. Stephen Covey in his international bestseller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has a chapter devoted to the subject of “beginning with the end in mind.” His chapter begins with one of the most moving and persuasive illustrations I have ever read. He invites readers to consider their funeral. Imagine it. Picture the people connected with your life that will stand up and say something to the gathered crowd of friends and family. He writes “Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life? Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?” His point is clear. We often fall far short of actually DOING the sort of things we hope to be remembered for.
When talking to other pharmacists I sometimes take this illustration suggested by Covey and change it a bit to accomplish the kind of career-thinking we need to do. Imagine your pharmacy career is over in 5 years. That’s right, completely done. Don’t worry about why it is done. That doesn’t matter. You have 5 years left as a professional pharmacist. How do you want to spend those 5 years? Think about it. What pharmacy job can you picture yourself doing for the next half decade? The answer to this question is what really is at the heart of your personal goal(s) as a professional in this field. That, my friend, is precisely what you need to begin aiming for today in your career.
This type of thinking isn’t exclusively Covey’s. Ben Stein, the American lawyer, actor and political speech writer, put it this way “The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of this life is this: decide what you want.” There’s an old saying, tried and true, “if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” You need to figure out, for yourself, what you want to do with your career. This is why I said, in the first article, “Never let your job description define you.” And this is why I harped on “networking” in the second article, because it is your network (ordinarily speaking) that is going to help you get where you want to go.
Don’t Wait to the End
Figuring out where you would like to “end” your career is an integral part of “owning your career.” And don’t wait for the final years of your life to do this! Many pharmacists spend 30+ years doing what they hate, only to retire and complain about how awful things were. Of course they were awful! These individuals never really figured out what they wanted to do or, if they did, couldn’t figure out how to get there. What I plan to share in this series of articles is more than just pie-in-the sky wishful thinking about your career goals. I am going to share some steps that will help you get there. But maybe you have already waited a long time. That’s okay. You’re reading this – so you’re not finished yet! In the words of a favorite author of mind, C.S. Lewis, “you are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
If you have done what I suggested above, then you have spent some time thinking about where you would like your career to be headed. By thinking that you had only 5 years left, the sheer urgency of the situation demanded that you clarified your real “dream job” as a pharmacist. Now write it down. Get out a notebook or index card or whatever and put into writing specifically what you want to be doing. Maybe you’re doing it already! That’s great. But for many pharmacists (and others as well) this will mean that some change needs to happen. And because no real, significant changes happen in the “fuzzy land” of wishful thinking, documenting and writing down your dream job – the one you want to be ultimately known for – is essential. Tony Robbins, the popular motivational speaker, put it this way “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”
But how do you get there? The answer is T.S.S.D. That stands for Take Small Steps Daily. Let me ask you a very practical question. What ONE thing could you do today – or within the next 24 hours if your day is almost done – that would move you just ONE step closer to that dream job that you want to be remembered for in your career? I bet you can think of at least one thing. It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant it appears to be. What is it? Now, wait for it…do that ONE thing! That is the brilliant secret to achieving any goal. Take the first step. Then take another step. And keep repeating until you reach your goal. Try not to let a day go by in which some step, no matter how small, is taken that moves you in the direction you are trying to go. To put it in the words of Walt Disney, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
So, my friend, where do you want to go? Maybe you aren’t sure what small steps to begin taking. Knowing the right steps involves understanding the way employers think and where jobs actually come from. But that’s a subject for another article…so be sure to check back!
In case you missed the previous posts:
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Last modified: April 17, 2023