Career Planning and Your Future
Does the future of your professional career stress you out? It’s perfectly normal if it does. Now knowing where your career is going, or where your current job will end up taking you, can be pretty daunting. To give yourself some piece of mind – and for a slew of other positive reasons – develop a personal career plan. Most everyone knows that settings goals lends confidence, empowers, and motivates. Career planning is just goal setting on a long-term scale. But where do you start? Identifying your professional aspirations can be difficult, especially in the early stages of your career. Hopefully the following breakdown will help you take the first step to planning your career.
Note that there is no universal step-by-step career planning procedure. Everyone’s career plan will be different, and usually a career plan doesn’t go exactly as imagined. Nevertheless, these tips can help you set goals that can lead to professional success.
Building Your Plan
Time, research, and ambition are what career planning is all about.
Start with identifying your goals. More than likely, this will be much easier to say than to do. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are your passions?
- What would make your proud of yourself?
- What could make you want to go to work each day?
- What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
- What does success mean to you?
Think on these questions and write down your answers. If you already have a specific industry or profession you want to pursue, your answers should come a bit more easily.
Next, do some research. Identify what skills you need to master as well as what education, certifications, qualifications, etc. you need to earn to succeed in your career. Write these down, too.
Then, the hardest and most important part, plan your steps. Once you identify your end goal, map out the steps you need to take to get there. What is the next job you need? What’s the job after that? Even roughly planning out what you need to do next will help keep the big picture in perspective and guide your decision-making process.
Finally (well, the final part of the beginning), plan your marks. Marks are the milestones you need to hit to further your career. A good example of this is making a one-year, five-year, ten-year, and fifteen-year milestone map. Ask yourself where you need to be in one year and then in five years, and where you want to be in ten years and then fifteen years. Setting these goals is among the most crucial parts of your career success.
The career planning process and subsequent journey to your end goal absolutely requires self-assessment. It can be hard to stick to your plan and stay focused on your milestones, but determination and some gumption will go a long way. You should always track your progress and regularly update your plan. If circumstances change, alter your plan and forge ahead.
Setting manageable goals is pivotal in your career planning process. If you’re in an entry-level position and your one-year marker is to be the company’s CEO, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Not achieving unrealistic goals and then feeling bad about your lack of progress is the ultimate career motivation killer. Another note about managing your goals – don’t be too focused on them. Plans change, things happen, life gets in the way. Throughout your journey don’t forget about work-life balance. Your number one goal should to do what makes you happiest.
So, you’ve now got a good jumping off point to begin planning your career, mapping your goals, and achieving career success as well as life happiness. Good luck and keep your nose to the grindstone.