This past Wednesday I was sitting through our weekly team Zoom meeting, halfway zoned out trying to wrap up the accounts I’d seen for the day while also digesting key information from my bosses. They began to review the results of our continuing education and blind tasting when I was suddenly snapped to attention with the announcement of my name. “And Kathie is the only one who got a perfect score.”
I was shocked. Before losing my old job to the pandemic I was working pretty steadily on tasting practices with my fabulous wine mentor and former boss Billie. But I never felt like I was doing well because she is so far advanced in her wine training and compared to her my nose and palate is pure garbage. Then I was on a 6 month hiatus where I did no wine tasting (but tons of wine consuming) and honestly since plunging headfirst through the holidays in my new role, I’ve had no time to devote to education. So basically I’ve given my senses a 10 month break and was not expecting to even be able to guess the varietal in the blind tasting let alone the region and producer. And yet somehow me, the newest member of the team, had scored perfectly. I have to say after the shock wore off, it felt pretty damn good.
This recognition for my small accomplishment has renewed a fire in me to get back on track working toward my ultimate career goals. If you want to grow past entry level sales within the world of wine you basically have to further your education by working upward through the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) or a Sommelier program. I have chosen to pursue WSET as it not only focuses heavily on wine, but also a bit on spirits, as well as the business aspects of the industry. As I continue to gain more experiences, I’ve been able to get a feel for what direction I could take my fascination with grapes and essentially a “5 Year Plan” for my career.
This has been so important for me because true to form, I’ve been kind of a late bloomer in the career department and just floating along aimlessly doesn’t serve me well. I’ve always been jealous of those people who seemed to know what they wanted to do since they were kids. Even in college it took until the 2nd semester of junior year for me to nail down a major and minor field of study. Now that I feel a sense of purpose, it is inspiring me to work harder and thus perform better.
If you’re like me and the thought of figuring out who you want to be seems daunting, it will be a relief to know that you don’t have to have an ultimate goal to create a plan of action for your future. A quick Google search of “How to write a 5 year plan” yields thousands of results with differing strategies on how to achieve the same result, but I really enjoyed this simple 3-step approach from a site called “Career Girl Daily.”
- Write down what motivates you, and actually think about it
- Write down your knowledge and skills, with strengths and weaknesses
- Write down any barriers in your way, and what you can do to jump them
If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know I’m a big believer in putting the thoughts in your head down on paper. There is just something about writing a thought down that can suddenly make the intangible seem tangible. That’s why I really liked this process; there is a strong focus on identifying every aspect and putting it in written format. I also love simplifying things and this article did a terrific job of not overthinking what can be a quite overwhelming process.
In step 1 you list all the things that motivate you or bring you joy then simply evaluate the things that came to mind. For example if you wrote down “I love helping others,” ok, in what capacity? How hands-on do you like to be; is it more like fundraising events or do you like to break a sweat personal training?
After sort of narrowing down your passions in step 1, step 2 requires you to just list what you know on the subject and any special skills or weaknesses you bring to the table. This can bring to light what direction you might take toward achieving your goal or assist in identifying what it’s actually going to take to get there.
Finally in step 3, identify any roadblocks that will hinder you from attaining this goal and how you might conquer them; i.e. if you need a substantial start-up investment or specific certifications/training.
Most important, keep in mind that none of us can predict the future and a 5-year plan isn’t concrete. It should be a roadmap for success, but ultimately there will be unforeseen potholes and detours that could alter the path entirely. You might not even walk away from this with a specific endgame at all. But remain committed to pursuing the things that feel right and letting go of the things that feel wrong without guilt and I promise you will succeed.
(For details on the article referenced in this column go to https://www.careergirldaily.com/3-steps-to-a-5-year-plan/ )