If you own a car you’ll know how important it is to service and maintain it regularly to make sure it is reliable to get you where you need to go. However, do you do the same with your career management plan? You can’t expect it to keep serving you well if you don’t take good care of it and change it when needed.
So many of us don’t plan for our future, following unintentional career paths as a result of falling into our next job or promotion. Now, I am not saying this is always a bad thing as the unintentional route can open doors to exciting pathways that you may not have previously even considered. However, if you don’t have a clear goal and the desire to keep your career on a winning trajectory you may be in danger of meandering up a very long road to nowhere.
Why is it important to have a plan?
For many of us, there’s always something more important happening that prevents us from creating a career management plan. For instance, if you are in the middle of a long-term project and your input is critical to your company, now may not be the right time to pull your attention away to redefine your career strategy. On the other hand, you won’t want to delay a decision like that indefinitely. After all, another project or crisis could be waiting in the wings when you finish the one you are in the middle of. Why is this a problem? For starters, it could result in putting off development of a new career management plan long enough to precipitate a crisis of another sort – such as suddenly needing to change jobs and having no idea of the best approach to take… because you have no career management plan in place.
So, let’s get started
Now I have highlighted the scary fear of being unprepared, let’s begin with clarifying what’s important to you by considering the following questions;
Am I progressing my career in the way that I thought I would? Are you happy with your career course? Is the path that you are on still right for you? If so, brilliant. If not, it’s time to recalibrate.
Which tasks stimulate me, and which tasks drain me? Through experience you can identify preferences, becoming more self-aware. Maybe you enjoy client meetings but loathe data analysis. Maybe it’s the other way around. Whatever the case, it’s important that you drill down what you actually enjoy doing to help inform your progression.
What do I want to be really good at? It’s important to consider your motivators, needs, skills and what you’re willing to do (or give up) in order to find that great opportunity.
What skills do I need to succeed? Once you’ve highlighted the actual skills you want to attain, you can work toward them.
Will this career choice allow me to do what’s important? Will this pathway give you enough money, time and flexibility to do the things in your life that are more important than working? Now’s the time to reflect on what’s important to you or whether you need to change your life around a bit to focus on those things.
What can I do to position myself in the best place possible? How will you prove yourself and set yourself up for success. What resources does your company offer for ongoing education? What network opportunities can you take advantage of? Is there a possible mentor who could help you?
Answering these questions will help provide you with clarity of your intended goal. The next steps you will need to take will be how you will go about achieving them. Remember, achieving career success not only requires a strategy and a plan, it also requires courage to take a big step, even if you cannot guarantee the outcome. Be realistic with your goal and be kind to yourself with timescales. Runners don’t get up one day and run a marathon the next, so set yourself some milestones so that you can acknowledge progression towards your goal, rewarding yourself along your journey.
With a goal and a plan to achieve it, you have increased the odds of career success immediately. So, don’t leave your career to chance or luck, now is the time for you to take control!