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Here is How to Create Your Career Story

Are you ignoring the most important task of your career? While you are busy completing projects and meeting deadlines, the best opportunities seem to pass you by. Each time you evaluate your career, you find yourself either compromising on your dreams or being unable to decide between competing options. You have become a victim of the digital era that has made career planning a challenge.
Instead of a clearly visible career path or a job for life, you are at best an independent worker who will survive and thrive only with a constantly evolving skillset. The way out now is to craft your unique story that will help you create and stay the course while finding the right job profiles at every stage. Here is how you own your career story. 
The internal story What is the story you tell yourself to stay motivated and to make the big decisions correctly in your career? Apart from earning a pay check, your career gives you an identity. Your motivation is driven through that identity when your work gives a sense of control over your professional choices, helps you feel connected with other professionals and your contributions lend a sense of purpose to your professional existence.
Thus, choose career paths and a personal storyline that gives you autonomy through greater accountability and responsibility. Expand your identity from a mere job title to the number of people you make a difference to—through a mutual give and take of professional acceptance, respect and support. Find purpose in outcomes your firm delivers to customers and stakeholders and how your work contributes to that. Thus, a soldier’s personal identity is being connected to his regimental comrades and he finds purpose in his role as the protector.
The external story How does your story get you the right opportunities that help progress your career? That happens when you freely share your story with others as a simple coherent theme that they can remember and associate with you. Here your story must have three aspects—it should demonstrate mastery in your role, continuous growth in capabilities and a habit of contribution to causes and teams that you stand for.
Own your truth and share it willingly in every format whether you are writing a CV, interviewing for a role, encouraging your team mates or meeting a client. If you are a salesperson, know more about your firm’s product or service than anyone else including your biggest customers. As you leverage your abiltiies to help your customers succeed, you demonstrate mastery and contribution to your team and employer and attract greater responsibilities for yourself. 
Your short story Build a three-sentence short story for yourself. Your career till date may not have been the ideal straight-line graph that you may have wished for. Your professional journey may have meandered through many twists and turns depending on market and personal circumstances. Now you can look back and choose to connect the dots to make sense of it all.
To create a great narrative, focus on Why, How and What? Thus, a data analyst may answer the questions in order by saying, “I like to help large businesses take good decisions. To do so, I use big data along with the latest technology and analytic tools. My contribution to my employers includes analysing business problems in manufacturing, finding data sources, cleaning the data and using analytics to arrive at usable answers.” Craft a similar story and bounce it off your friends until you get it right. 
Enriching the story Now create the expanded version of your story using examples and anecdotes. To deliver an effective storyline, focus on the context, framing and content of each incident. The context refers to the environment or situation in which the anecdote resides. The framing represents the view through which the story is being told and the content is what actually happened.
So, you could describe an early achievement with the context, “I was just two months into my first job and still learning the ropes.” The frame has now to be set: “There was an urgent deadline, but the senior data analyst was hospitalised and there was no one else who handled the data.” Finally, the content closes out on the story: “I took on the challenge, interviewed business managers to understand the problem and then worked on the dataset to deliver an answer to the client within the deadline thus saving an important account for my firm”. 
Living the story Live your narrative fully. The only way to keep your story alive is to make daily progress towards your dream. Getting ahead in your career story or succeeding at your current role requires you to master the four steps of skilling, delivery, sales and measurements.
First get trained to acquire the skills required for you to succeed. Second, deliver outcomes through your abilities. Third, speak up and advertise your successes and contributions. Fourth, know how will you be measured and work towards excelling in evaluation metrics. 
SCRIPTING YOUR JOURNEY
1. Creating options To write the screenplay for your career, research on what possibilities exist. Only a few careers like the government have a linear progression path. To generate external options, tap active relationships outside your firm and in the industry. For information on internal opportunities, reach out to connects across different functions. 
2. Adding inputs Now get out of your comfort zone and seek inputs from others in fleshing out the various choices that you generated. Mentors, bosses, senior colleagues and even your HR can help identify which ones will enhance your learning, add to your skillset, bring greater responsibility and enrich your career story. 
3. Choosing a future Don’t restrict yourself to standard job definitions. Redefine your preferred option to create a role you desire. If you are a techie desiring a switch to technical sales or vice versa, be ready for the cost of learning. Invent your own path by working with your target team, learning on-the-job, and seeking good opportunities through your networks. 
4. Conspiring the universe Invest in creating leverage for your story. The best leverage are people who can and will push on your behalf. Work hard to create a universe of mentors, sponsors or even a boss who will go that extra mile to advise, recommend and share resources. Make sure you keep your universe conspiring for you through regular updates. 
5. Upgrading your software Your new phone upgrades its software every few weeks. Similarly, stay upgraded and on top of your professional game. Invest in continuous education through online courses, formal training programmes, industry events, trade journals and simple online research to ongoingly rebuild and reinvent your story.
 

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