Many of us have found the last year to be an eye-opening experience as the modes of how and where we work change. Our personal answer to the question “where do you want to be in 10 years?” has changed for most of us. At the beginning of the pandemic, the thought of working from home was truly terrifying for me. And now, I enjoy the flexibility that a hybrid schedule offers. And, I also know for certain that I do not ever want to be a 100% remote worker (a sentiment that not many would agree with, #ExtrovertsRock).

As we begin to settle into this new normal, accepting and refining the new possibilities that this new professional world may offer, it feels natural to do a life audit and take stock of our goals.

When you start an academic career audit, start with the areas of your academic portfolio. These areas are often specified by your university, or they may even be outlined in your job description. For each of the main areas of your career, identify the end goal, then outline each of the stepping stone goals that you will need to get you there. Within your stepping stone goals, outline dates of when each action can be reasonably achieved. 

Step One: Identify main areas of your current and future academic career.

When I start an academic career life audit, I like to start with the hats that I wear, the lanes that I operate in, or areas of my academic portfolio. These areas are often specified by your university, or they may even be outlined in your job description. Another source of inspiration is to find others with your dream job and look through their CV or biosketch online to find the activities they have done. Every academic, especially those of us in Research Administration, has a different career pathway. It can be helpful to see the paths of others who have been successful in your dream job. Here are a few areas that you might consider in your goal development:

  • Dream Job Title/Academic Promotion Pathway
  • Your Research Agenda
  • Teaching and Curriculum Development
  • Service to the University
  • Service to the Field/Service to the Profession
  • Consulting/Freelance
  • Your Continuing Education

Step Two: Develop the broad 30-year/end goal for each main area.

For each of the main areas of your career, identify the end-goal. Where do you want to end up? What is the ultimate goal before you retire? Where do you ultimately want to be? Keep it broad, fuzzy and unclear if you can. Leave some room for flexibility and movement. You never know where life will take you.

  • Dream Job Title/Academic Promotion Pathway
    • Professor
  • Your Research Agenda
    • Stream of Research/Question for Systematic Development
  • Teaching and Curriculum Development
    • Dedicated Course Each Session
  • Service to the University
    • Respected Advisor
  • Service to the Field/Service to the Profession
    • Respected Mentor
  • Consulting/Freelance
    • Second Income
  • Your Continuing Education
    • Doctorate
    • Professional Certification

Step Three: Develop ‘stepping stone’ goals from where you are today.

With each of your end goals, there is a distinct pathway that can get you from where you are currently to where you want to be. Picture each of the stepping stone goals that you can take to further your career. Develop each area slowly with concrete actions you can take to further your career in the direction you want to take.

  • Dream Job Title/Academic Promotion Pathway
    • Professor
      • Qualifications for Professor (Degree, Experience, Research)
  • Your Research Agenda
    • Stream of Research/Question for Systematic Development
      • # Peer-Review Publications per Year
      • List of Target Journals in my Field
  • Teaching and Curriculum Development
    • Dedicated Course Each Session
      • Teaching Experience
      • Invited Lectures
  • Service to the University
    • Respected Advisor
      • Service on Committees
      • Volunteer Service for Departmental Programs
  • Service to the Field/Service to the Profession
    • Respected Mentor
      • Service to Professional Journals
      • Service on Mentorship Boards
  • Consulting/Freelance
    • Second Income
      • Established Freelance Workflow
      • Build Reputation and Ratings
  • Your Continuing Education
    • Doctorate
      • Finish Doctorate in #Years
      • Cultivate University Connections in my Field
    • Professional Certification
      • Consider Certification Options (PMP, CRA)
      • Certification Requirements (Degree, #Years Experience. Job Title)
      • Set Deadline Goal and Study for Certification

Step Four: Identify your ‘stepping stone’ timeline over the next 10 years.

Within your stepping stone goals, begin to outline dates of when each action can be reasonably achieved. Again, give yourself extra room. Leave some room for flexibility and movement. You never know where life will take you. Look at the qualifications for each job description along the way. Be sure that you fully understand what will be expected in order to take the next step.

  • Dream Job Title/Academic Promotion Pathway
    • Professor
      • Qualifications for Professor
        • Associate Profession 5 Years
  • Your Research Agenda
    • Stream of Research/Question for Systematic Development
      • # Peer-Review Publications per Year
        • 3 Publications Per Year for the next 5 Years
      • List of Target Journals in my Field
        • Target Journals X, Y, and Z for the next 5 Years
  • Teaching and Curriculum Development
    • Dedicated Course Each Session
      • Teaching Experience
        • At least 1 teaching experience per quarter
      • Invited Lectures
        • Send emails to attempt to cultivate 1 invited lecture per year
  • Service to the University
    • Respected Advisor
      • Service on Committees
        • Join at least 2 internal committees
      • Volunteer Service for Departmental Programs
        • Join or Start a new departmental program
  • Service to the Field/Service to the Profession
    • Respected Mentor
      • Service to Professional Journals
        • Join an editorial board or volunteer for an elected position
      • Service on Mentorship Boards
        • Join a fellowship or mentorship board as an advisor
  • Consulting/Freelance
    • Second Income
      • Established Freelance Workflow
        • Join UpWork or other freelance market
      • Build Reputation and Ratings
        • Cultivate lower-level jobs and focus on getting high ratings for next 3 years
  • Your Continuing Education
    • Doctorate
      • Finish Doctorate in 3 Years
      • Cultivate University Connections in my Field
    • Professional Certification
      • Consider Certification Options (PMP, CRA)
      • Certification Requirements (Degree, #Years Experience. Job Title)
        • Earn Certification in 5 Years

Step Five: Put it All Together.

Now that you have built completed your academic career life audit, keep this information close and visible to ensure goal success. Outline what needs to happen this next year and put reminders in your work journal, your Outlook Calendar, or your desktop background–the most visible place you have in your daily professional life. Find a way to incorporate these action items every week–always be working towards your goal!