Create your own career bucket list

A bucket list is that list of things you keep in the back of your mind to tick off before you die -- or "kick the bucket" as the saying goes.

It's a great way to consider what you'd ultimately like to achieve with your life -- climb Everest, open an orphanage, navigate the globe on a solo sailing mission, the usual stuff.

But creating a "before you die" list is not exactly something that will assist your career, especially if you hope to lead a life that's defined by something other than your work.

So I'm advocating something new: the career bucket list. It's a list of things to do before you kick the retirement bucket or even before you simply change jobs, get promoted, return from maternity leave, or whatever work-related deadline revs you up. Have your death defying list of ultimate ambitions on the side, but create something a little more immediate and relevant to where you're currently at with life via the career bucket list.

Some would simply call this goal setting. But creating a career bucket list offers a little more -- it dares you to think big about what you can do within a specific deadline and about how you could truly find self-satisfaction in your work.

And anyway, a career bucket list sounds so much more interesting and personal than a "two year career plan" (for the record, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg's prefers to think 18 months ahead). This is a bucket list. It's about you not what others think you should do. It could be fun, meaningful, inspirational and about self satisfaction rather than the next promotion (although that could appear on your list too).

Creating a career bucket list is pretty easy, as long as you can spare the time to think about what your really want and reflect a little on who and what truly inspires you. Start with a pen and notebook, or better yet your iPhone and get busy listing all of your wildest, craziest ideas -- within some kind or reason, and making them at least half relevant to your work. Then give yourself a non-death related deadline -- something foreseeable and less morbid than your own death.

The goal is to find meaning in your career, to source tickable items that'll give you some challenging, yet doable, tasks to get your career on track and bring some purpose into the daily grind.

So what could you include on such a list? It's really all about you and want you want. There are 100 items on my current career bucket list, in which I'm considering the "things to do before I kick the bucket of my current job", including:

  • Encourage a group of colleagues to get involved in something external, such as a sports team
  • Lead a new company initiative that puts you out of your comfort zone
  • Master the art of actually saying 'no' to direct reports and managers
  • Sponsor somebody you work with
  • Find a sponsor who can support your own ambitions
  • Find an external mentor who intimidates you
  • Get promoted, twice
  • Speak at a career day
  • Get the kids to spend a day in the office
  • Establish a charitable initiative within your work and inspire colleagues to get involved.
  • Take a colleague with whom you have absolutely nothing to do with to lunch
  • Befriend another team -- learn what they do and consider what skills could be more beneficial to aid your career with your current organisation
  • Get a least two significant salary increases -- with the option of more depending on tenure.
  • Start contributing to a range of industry-relevant publications
  • Undertake an internal research project
  • Spend a day in the life of a customer
  • Pitch a new product to senior management
  • Present at a company-wide conference
  • Complete a project unrelated to your current employer -- either paid or unpaid
  • Create a new blog that shares career-related advice and tips
  • Meet an international business woman you've long admired.

What would appear on your career bucket list?

Meredith the Mentor

Meredith is a contributing writer to Women's Agenda. She is is not a consultant, or a management guru. She's not even a published author. Just someone who's made plenty of mistakes, and learnt a few lessons along the way.

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