The nice thing about waking up before dawn is that you can retire to your study with a cup of coffee, think out loud and there is no one around who will tell you that you are wrong.

As I read the news regarding the monthly jobs report, my thoughts returned to several blogs I have written over the past 18 months that relied on three underlying themes:

  1. The growth in the ‘new economy’ will continue at a snail’s pace.
  2. Unemployment will remain high for the next several years, regardless of who occupies the White House, all the political hysteria to the contrary.
  3. Effective career management will remain a critical skill for the rest of time.

Last week I wrote about the nine elements of effective career brand management.  Writing a personal vision statement is one of those elements.  Not everyone agrees, even those with seemingly successful careers.  For the other half of the workforce, it is hard to think about such an esoteric concept when you are waiting for your soon-to-end unemployment check.  In fact, I believe that the vast majority of Americans who are in the workforce, and those who would like to be back at work, have not even given much thought to the personal vision statement concept.

Would you try to run a business without a plan?  The overwhelming majority of executives would say no.  Since 2008, those who have tried that foolish approach are probably in the unemployment line.

When I began my career in the news business in 1969, there were plenty of jobs. You just had to go where they were.  I went from job to job, city to city, moving up to larger papers, making more money and covering more interesting stories.  Then I changed careers and had a series of wonderful, exciting, and enriching jobs that ultimately led me to running my own search firm.  Given my belief today in the critical importance of the personal vision statement, I am embarrassed to report that I did it all without a plan.  A word of advice for Generations X and Y, the latter also known as the “Milliennials”:  You will not be so lucky.

The economic paradigm, which is to say the job market, has structurally changed.  Generations X and Y will probably spend their entire careers having to compete more aggressively and effectively for fewer jobs.  Why?  If the severe recession that began in 2008 has taught us nothing else it is that American businesses have learned they can produce more with fewer people.  Productivity is very high.

If having personal discipline is the foundation for having a successful career with a minimum of disruptions, then the personal vision statement – your own career business plan – is the cornerstone.

© 2012 John Gregory Self

To invite John Self to be a speaker at your meeting or function, contact Kathleen Sullivan of The Sullivan Group in Houston.  John is an entertaining and informative speaker who talks about leadership, current events, and life’s wonderful ironies in a speech that is laced with humor and satisfying stories regarding the challenges we all face. He consistently receives high ratings for his presentations.