Career Planning 101: Mastering the Basics
All too often we launch our careers simply by chance rather than by deliberate direction; and the direction we head after that looks very haphazard. While hard work and great results can definitely benefit your career trajectory, it still needs some consistent planning to really get the best results.
Even if you’ve been working for ages and never thought to do some career management for yourself, it’s not too late to deploy some of these tactics to manage your career. If you are a newly minted graduate, you can fold these into your ongoing planning from day 1.
Tactics to manage your career:
Have a goal in mind. Even if you change your mind, continually be aiming at some specific career goal. It could be a promotion, advancement or an assignment to be pursued. By having a goal in mind, it helps shape your other actions. Without a goal, there’s no telling where you will end up.
Get knowledgeable about the criteria for attaining your goal. Questions you should be continuously asking are: “What does it take to: – be promoted to the next level? – to receive advancement? – to be assigned to a juicy project?” This is like climbing a mountain. You first need to decide which mountain. Once you do that then you figure out the best way to get to your destination and what you need to support the climb.
Analyze your shortages. With your goal in mind, you need to turn your attention to what you need to equip yourself with in order to be qualified to attain your goal. There may be a skill you need to develop or up level and if that is true, how will you accomplish it? You may need to enroll in a class or seek someone out to train you. It’s safe to say that with all goals, there is action and knowledge required to get there.
Get insight. You would do well to speak to the people who have accomplished what you want to do. These people can provide you with great insight and information about the nature of the work and what they had to do to achieve what they did. While your path may be somewhat different, this type of information can prove invaluable, especially if there is some political work that is needed. Political turf is not always plain to see; and it’s good to get the “lay of the land”.
Create accountability. One thing about our own personal goals is that there is no one but ourselves to push us and hold us accountable for taking the steps to achieve our goals. There are various things you can do to help you stay true to your commitment, starting with putting dates on your actions or steps. You can also involve someone in your plan such as your boss, mentor or coach. If you ask someone to keep you accountable and ask you about your progress, it will help create a positive “tension” to keep you on task.
Prepare to update your plan. I once heard a saying, “A plan cannot withstand a collision with reality”. That means things happen that will cause your plan to stray off of its path. That is natural, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan. It simply means you need to continually be updating your plan as various circumstances present setbacks or opportunities. I think it is good for you to refresh your plan at least every 6 months or whenever some significant changes effect either your direction or actions.
The management of your career is your responsibility; and you have to know that it may or may not go anywhere without your guidance. The effort you put into the thinking and ongoing planning will pay you back with the benefit of a career you love. Plus you will feel the direction is largely in your control. Who wouldn’t love that?
And now I would like to invite you to claim your Free Instant Access to the Career Makeover Newsletter AND eWorkbook “Should I Stay or Should I Go” – both dedicated to your career success, when you visit:
- Top 4 Reasons Why Most Career Dreams Fail (forbes.com)