When I got my first professional job, my number one joy was that I wasn't going to have to move again for a while. After a lot of changes, I was so excited to settle in to a place and build a space of comfort. That was my goal at the job, as well: figure out what I'm doing and do it.
I think that's a goal we all have in our positions: to figure out what we're doing and do it, and do it well if we're lucky. It is easy to make that the end goal. After I know this I will know it, done done let's go hiking this weekend. For me it happened so fast out of library school that I hardly noticed how I wasn't thinking hard about the long-term, strategic consequences of my decisions or about the my field generally or librarianship widely.
I think of library work (we do here at Constructive Summer) as highly responsive service based work. The trick comes where there is a lot of daily work, where sometimes we confuse the responsiveness of our actions to the responsiveness of our ideas. We can think that because we've figured out our jobs and are good at them that we're operating at our peaks. Really what we need to do when we've got it figured out is to look forward.
Looking forward in our fields and in our profession has to start with having a vision for yourself. From yourself. We're all too happy to react to other ideas, suggestions, theories or whatever, but if we don't have a real idea of what our position is all of our reactions are basically worthless reflexes without substance. If you're just reacting, you're just reacting. When you have a reasoned position that you're coming from you can have a real discussion, one that can result in your own mind being changed, one that can result in moving your workplace and our profession forward.
So how do you have a vision? The first step is to take care of the basics, yes knowing the job and being good at the job are important. It's okay to focus on that where necessary. We need to read up on the literature and keep an eye on what's happening (a particular recent failing of mine). We need to allow ourselves the time to step back and think about issues when they arise to see what kind of strategic importance they might have.
If you can't manage the time in your day to day, take a week and jot down all of the issues you run into broadly, and pick one to consider on your commute. What have I worked on this week? ebooks, streaming media, budget, weeding, format migrations in AV, next drive I take, I'm going to think about what I really think about streaming media. Where is it going in our library, where is it going generally, what might change in the next five years, what kind of things do I wish were different, what do we need to do today and what do we need to do to get ready for the future? That's the kind of thinking that will make it easy to have an in depth conversation with someone about the future of our collection, way more than a recitation of just what I've come across in my work.
It's also important to have a good long think about what YOU want to be doing. When I first heard someone tell me this, I was in the midst of being so happy about not moving, 26 and in my first professional job and I was not ready to hear it. Now I know it is important. I refer you to Erin's recent post for a little bit more. There isn't need to make a five year strategic plan (as I was instructed to do), but sit and think (or run around and think) about what is in store for you.
In building to strategic planning we're on step two: Personal Vision
Step One was Introverts and Introspection, assessing our natures.