This Saturday, Joel Deceuster presented his 7 strategies for planning your career. Joel created these seven focusing strategies as something he’s learned in his business. You can learn more about Joel and his work at

Listening to Joel talk about these strategies, I was struck by how similar the first strategy was to the steps in a 12-step program. The 12 steps are a process for going from a spiritually bankrupt position to an action plan that ultimately works by spurring the hopeless addict to a place where they can find the promise of a better life. By following these 12 steps, the goal of “the promises” is achieved, and addiction (and hopelessness) is left behind.

Joel’s approach starts with becoming accountable (the first strategy).

#1-Focus your commitment to be 100% accountable for your career.

  • Follow the steps to accountability
    • See it (admit / recognize the problem) – In a 12-step program, the first step is admitting that we have a problem.
    • Own it (know it is your problem, and remove denial)  – We realize that what we’ve been doing before isn’t working, and that we need help (steps two and three)
    • Solve it (plan) – We take inventory of our wrongs, and make a list of what we need to do to correct them, and share that with somebody else (steps four through eight)
    • Do it (take action) – We make amends, and take action on a daily basis to correct our mistakes (steps nine and ten)
    • Don’t play the blame game (be responsible for your own career) – In the recovery programs, they often preach about being responsible
  • Find and accountability buddy – Joel recommends finding an accountability buddy.

This is somebody to whom you can keep track of your progress (very similar to a sponsor in the 12-step programs) as you progress through your plan (work the steps).

In a 12-step program, you need a sponsor once you get past the first three steps, which also seems to work for Joel’s list above.So for me, his first strategy is a way out of the doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results (the definition of insanity).

His next strategy is to focus your goal. This is to overcome the lack of planning we put into our job search, which is also the point of the 12 steps: focus the effort on achievable goals by breaking things down into manageable pieces.

#2-Focus your primary objective to envision your ideal job.

  • Visualize your ideal job
    • One year from today …?
    • Discover your unique ability
  • If you can see it, you can acheive it- Joel suggests reading this book immediately if not sooner.
  • Transform your limiting beliefs that hold you back
    • They’re stories not truth

#3-Focus your employment strategies to direct your search.

  • The Goal Implementer Process
    • Obstacles inspire solutions – In the twelve steps, we take inventory of all of our wrongs, and plan to make amends.
    • Milestones – Setting milestones helps you to recognize progress.
  • The Core Employment Strategies
    • Assessment; What’s working, not working? – In the twelve step process, we continue to take inventory which helps us find out what is working and what is not.
  • Prioritize your strategies
    • Create a one page employment plan
    • Vision/mission/goals/strategies/action plans

#4-Focus your actions to optimize your efforts and resources.

  • Create prioritized action plans
  • Always know what’s next

#5-Focus your week to make it powerfully productive.

  • Use planning tools
  • Weekly planning ALWAYS
    • 3 crucial results (what do you want to feel by the end of the week)
    • Top 20 phone calls/connections (identify 20 people who can help you get to your goal)
    • Top 10 Strategic projects

#6-Focus on measuring your progress to stay on plan.

  • Daily dials (success indicators)
  • 3 Personal guidelines – rules for yourself, lessons learned ( e.g. – stay networked) around biggest disappointments
  • Positive focus

#7-Focus your energy to demonstrate your best you.

  • Physical fitness
  • Spiritual development – the twelve step programs are all about spirituality, and the process is really focused on achieving a spiritual awakening to guide us toward our true purpose.
  • Mental growth
  • Social engagement
  • Financial stability

When I was a little boy, I used to love to fly those balsa wood airplanes.You know, the ones that came in a flat bag, with thin sheets of balsa wood, a nose weight, a plastic propellor and a really big rubber band that you bought at the local grocery store.

They usually had red ink on one side that had USAF markings and a little picture of a pilot in the cockpit. You had to be careful putting them together, or the paper-thin wings or tail would break, and it would never fly right.

There was a park near where we lived in Alaska that was on a little hill above the ocean. I was flying planes there one day, and trying to see how far I could make them go. How far could I wind up the propellor before the rubber band broke? Would it fly straight, or crash and break in a million pieces? How much power could the rubber band give me anyway?

I was getting discouraged with fighting the wind, and ready to go home. All day I’d been throwing the planes only to watch them nosedive, or go nowhere as they bucked the wind, no matter how hard I wound the rubber band.

One last time, I wound the propellor a few extra times, and threw the plane down the hill toward the ocean. I watched in amazement as the wind caught the plane lifting it far higher than I could ever have thrown it.It flew out across the park, and over the sea.

It kept flying until I couldn’t see it any more, looking like somebody had actually filled the gas tank and taken it on a trip across the sea. It was still flying when I lost sight of it.

There are so many amazing things that can happen when we simply get out of the way and let the wind pick us up. All I had to do was put together the plane, wind the rubber band, and the wind took care of the rest.

By doing what we can do, being conscious and prepared, we can be ready for the greater gifts as they are presented.

American Bald Eagle fall mating ritual
American Bald Eagle fall mating ritual (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a boy, we lived in south eastern Alaska in the small chain of islands north of Ketchikan, first on the island of Wrangell, then the island of Petersburg.

This was one of the most amazing places to be as a boy, the perfect place to learn about nature, and beauty.In Petersburg, we lived a couple miles out of town along this road that ran to the other end of the island, in this house that sat on stilts hanging over a cliff that looked out on the strait (almost all the islands there are so close together that if the water wasn’t 35 degrees you could swim to the next one).

The house was nestled in the pine trees, and always looked like one of those postcards of a green forest with wisps of fog floating around the trees. It rained constantly, which was incredibly fun for us, since we got to play in the mud every day. We could always spot the tourists because they would be the ones trying to walk around the mud puddles.

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