With all of the Facebook posting and Twitter updating (not to mention getting your stories to air or publish and, oh yeah, eating and trying to have a social life), who has time to think about the future?
Believe me, I get it. We are all busy living in the present. And that’s a good thing. But soon the present becomes the past, days become weeks, weeks become years, and before you know it you have been working in the same position in the same newsroom for five years.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with staying in one place, working a job you love, but what happens if you let yourself get too comfortable? What happens if those future plans continue to sit on the backburner of your life for too long? How are you going to feel if that one story you really wanted to dig into becomes a faded memory or forgotten cause?
I don’t think anyone wants that to happen. And while we may not be able to completely prevent it, we can at least stop and think: What do I want to do next? How am I going to get there? What could I do now to make it happen?
I was recently reminded of how important this is during a review with my news director. I think of myself as a very goal-oriented person. I have an idea of what I want to do next, and think I am aware of what I am good at and what I need to improve on. But what I was surprised to learn is that while I may have an idea of what I want, I am not sure how to get there.
This worried me a little and got me thinking: I need to pay a little more attention to the future.
It doesn’t have to be scary, and hopefully you’ll find some of these tips helpful as you think about your future.
Ask for feedback. One of the best ways to know how you are doing is to ask someone. Ask the people you work with daily, ask other journalists you admire in the industry, ask #GenJ on Twitter. When asking for feedback, you are allowing yourself to see where you stand, find out what you could be working on, etc. Knowing these things can help you better prepare for the future and can help you more easily decide what that next step may be.
Develop a relationship with a mentor. Everyone needs one. Everyone should have one. And the key is to not just reach out to them when you need something. You have to develop a relationship with this person. Having a mentor can provide you with a great sounding board when you may need it. A mentor can help you with future career decisions and with current stories you are working on.
Reach out to people in positions you find appealing. The best way to find out if you would be interested in a position is to ask people already working in the position. Ask them about what they do, what the position entails, what skills you should be working on now to prepare for a position like that in the future.
Learn by viewing. Watch what others in the business are doing. If there is a show or company you want to work for, watch and read what they are producing. Read books by experts in the industry.
Set goals. Make some that are long term and short term. Some could be as easy as working on adding interactive elements to a story, and others could be more complicated, like working on breaking into a specific organization or topic.
Meet with managers. Sometimes I think we may be afraid of news managers, but we shouldn’t be. They’re the people who are leading your newsroom and can help develop you as a journalist for your current company and future companies.
Evaluate yourself. Take time to ask yourself how you are doing. Is there something you want to do better? Is there something you want to work on? Don’t wait until your annual employee review with a superior to reflect on what you’ve done and how you can improve.
Lynn Walsh is chairwoman of the Generation J Committee and investigative producer for WPTV, NewsChannel 5 in West Palm Beach, Fla. Interact with her on Twitter: @LWalsh.
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