What kind of #harvest are you expecting?

As we enter the first week of November I think back to my younger years in the Midwest when the farmers would be wrapping up their harvest.  Growing up in the central part of Illinois provided a number of opportunities to see and experience the harvest in a great way.  Many of my friends grew up on farms and a few of them have taken over the reigns as the leader of the harvest for their family.  These farms, many of them over 1000 acres, would have a massive harvest of corn, soybeans and other grains or grasses that would then benefit the family and others for many months to come.

I like the system of using metaphor or analogy for writing about things I enjoy.  One recent post talked about how the change in seasons might affect your job search while another recent post spells out how to best leverage the holiday season, specifically the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays for your search.

We will talk more today about the harvest and how you can maximize your own personal harvest for now and for the future of your career.  In order to move forward lets talk more about some fundamental components of the harvest.

The harvest is the ending of the season, but it is also the beginning of another season.  When the harvest consists of grain, some of the grain may be consumed by the family doing the work, some may be sold for other uses on the market and some may be retained to feed animals or to produce a crop the following year.  The grain is the most obvious result of the harvest, but there are many other steps to the harvest to ensure success in the current season as well as to prepare for the winter months and then for the oncoming spring the following year.  Some of these steps include:

  • clearing the fields, possibly by cutting down the corn stalks or the bean plants if soybeans are planted
  • cutting the hay or the straw from the field, bailing it, and then putting it away for the winter and the coming spring
  • putting away and servicing equipment used for the harvest so that it will be in good shape for the next season
  • reviewing the financial outcome of the harvest
  • if part of the harvest is sold to the market, finding the  best market and negotiating the best price to maximize the return from the investment

Many of these steps translate well into the job search or career exploration one might undergo when a change is afoot.  We live in a world today where the season of one harvest/job might be a year, less than a year or possibly several years.  Each crop/career/job is different.  The individual responsible for the harvest, who I will call the Career Farmer, needs to understand just what kind of harvest they seek to have and they must then begin the planning of this harvest at least one season in advance.  If this type of planning is not done, the Farmer will have only a limited number of options when it comes to planning, planting and harvesting.  Some crops take tremendous amounts of planning and work while others are more easily handled with less rigor.

Stephen Covey used the phrase “Begin with the end in mind” in his seminal work, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.  This book is a cornerstone to every person’s development and it is highly useful when planning a career or job search also.  We need to know what type of outcome we desire before we begin the investment in land, seed, related materials, equipment or other peripheral items needed in the search.  If a Career Farmer considers a crop of sales versus a crop of operations, the types of seeds to be planted and related materials might be much different.

Covey’s phrase “the law of the farm” also comes in to play when planning a career versus a job.  The amount of time it requires for a harvest differs depending upon the type of career you are pursuing, just like the time for harvesting one grain or crop differs from another in the farm.  You cannot cram the time it takes to create the right career just as you cannot cram the amount of time it takes for germination, growth, nurture and harvest of a given crop.

So what kind of harvest are you expecting?  Are you interested in a short-term job or career or do you have something bigger in mind?

What type of planning and investment are you making into this coming season and what has the outcome of this year’s harvest been?

Failing to plan usually means planning to fail.

Don’t go hungry; plan your next job or career!