The importance of designing your research career development strategy

We live in an increasingly competitive world. The formulas of a few decades ago no longer work: entering a large company “from below” to end up, in a few years, as a manager. Let the family business “solve your life.” Enter as a fellow in a department of your university for a lifetime and retire as a professor. This no longer works. If you keep reading, you will be able to learn how to achieve all your goals effectively in the maelstrom that this 21st century is being.

The importance of STOP

Life takes us ahead with their haste, leaving us no time to stop and think. Or that’s what we tell ourselves. A very famous phrase in a Spanish influencer and that has become the flag of a well-known brand is the famous “It doesn’t give me life.” Although we sometimes feel that way, it is not true. Life gives us what we want to give us. But deliberately getting off that frenetic pace and STOPPING is no easy feat. I know, it happens to me often. And it is not an easy task because the lack of time is a great excuse for ourselves: I am in this job because I do not have time to look for another; my children do not allow me time to achieve my dreams; I can’t have a family or social life because my hours are horrible; I can’t get in shape because my life is unpredictable and I can’t systematically set aside time to play sports… do you hear some of these lies? Yes, they are lies, I’m already sorry. We lie to each other every day, and all for not wanting to be brave, take the bull by the horns and STOP.

But you will say, “Reyes, do not deviate, you said that you were going to talk about career development and for now you have not said anything.” Indeed, because before focusing on career development, we must understand that the first step is to make the conscious decision to invest part of our time in STOP. Yes, spend time stopping; stop to think, to understand ourselves, to know ourselves internally and to plan what we want in life. And that change of thought is fundamental. From now on stopping is not synonymous with wasting time. It becomes synonymous with INVEST. Invest in your health, mental and physical, in your future, in making your dreams come true, in truly knowing yourself.

Are you willing to make that paradigm shift and start INVESTING time to STOP? In that case, you are already on the right track to focus on planning your career development.

What is strategic planning applied to career development

Anyone who has immersed themselves a bit in the world of strategic planning will have stumbled upon the “father” of this science: the Chinese philosopher and general Sun Tzu. He lived more than 2,000 years ago and is best known for writing the book “The Art of War.” This book is used as a guide or manual throughout the world today to explain the importance of strategy in all areas: sports, business, military performances.

By this, I mean that the gurus of the 21st century have not invented the wheel. Seneca already said that “There is no favourable wind for those who do not know where they are going”, and I really fully agree with him. Many times we see people who, a priori, have everything, but then they do not achieve anything of what they propose. And that’s because “they don’t know where they’re going.”

To take advantage of that favourable wind we must plan. I copy the definition of the Planning RAE (Spanish Language Academy):

  1. f. Action and effect of planning.
  2. f. General plan, methodically organized and often of great scope, to obtain a certain objective, such as the harmonious development of a city, economic development, scientific research, the operation of an industry, etc.

We are going to stay with definition 2 😊 and we are going to reel it applied to career development:

  • General plan. When we plan we do not need to know the details to the millimetre, we must have the general picture of where we want to go, in this case, with our professional career.
  • Methodically organized. It is not done haphazardly. We will use methods and tools specifically designed to work the professional career, which help us to be concise and effective in that general plan.
  • Often of great amplitude. Normally this strategic planning is done in the medium-long term and without going into details. That will come later, in the daily, weekly or monthly work that the application of our strategy will entail. But to plan we must start by doing it “big.”
  • To get a certain goal. “Know where we are going.” It is the cornerstone of the matter. Speaking of career development, we could ask ourselves the following questions: Do I want a permanent position in a research centre? Create my own company? Make a career in a big four? Found an NGO? Be an employee in a local company in my town? Dedicate myself to the digital world? Form my own research group at a university? Be a science journalist? Work as a data analyst in a pharmaceutical company?
  • Applied to all fields. Here the RAE cites us some such as the harmonious development of a city, economic development, scientific research, the operation of an industry, etc. Planning applies to EVERYTHING. And for this reason, it is a great force when it comes to generating our professional career development strategy.

Now let’s see what the RAE says about the word “Strategy“.

  1. f. Art of directing military operations.
  2. f. Art, trace to direct a matter.
  3. f. Mat. In an adjustable process, a set of rules that ensure an optimal decision at all times.

In this case, I think that of the three meanings that the dictionary gives us, 2 and 3 are easily understandable within the context of career development. Basically, it is about creating a process that supports us in our decision-making in order to achieve our objectives in an optimal way.

Therefore, strategic planning applied to career development could be defined as:

The large-scale design of a career development plan, with well-defined and concrete objectives, supported by organized methods, and based on effective processes that ensure optimal decision-making at all times.

Or as Sun Tzu says, “Deliberately reflect before making a move.”

How to design your research career development strategy

So far, everything we have seen is very necessary, very interesting but very theoretical. Let’s put it into practice. As you know, in RSR we are specialized in research career development. But it is true that all the principles of which I have spoken so far are applicable to any type of professional career. And the tool that I have designed to help you build your career from now on can also be useful for any career “of a technical nature”, but it is focused on developing a research career.

As we have already mentioned, we must have specialized methods and tools to be able to plan our strategy. And thanks to the Planner “How to design your career development strategy in 3 steps” you will get it in record time.

I help you put into practice everything that we have been talking about throughout this post and I guarantee that, in just one day of work, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel, in terms of the development of your research career. refers.

I put at your disposal a series of key concepts complementary to everything that I have already told you here; specialized practical resources for the development of a research career so that you can study and apply them; a template so that you can carry out your own self-diagnosis of your research career; and an action plan so that you can “know where you are going” and that the wind is favourable for you in the next 6 months after having worked on this planner.

You can download at this link completely free of charge, and I will be delighted if you tell me through comments or by email what you think, if it is being useful to you and if, like our friend Sun Tzu, you have realized that “In the midst of chaos, there is also the opportunity ”.

See you next time!


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