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Career Planning is an activity that should not stop once you are done with your high school or college. In fact, it should be a constant process in your life as you start working. There must be some regularity in this activity, because contrary to the general perception, people usually change their careers (not jobs) multiple times over their lifetime. What I mean to say is that it is never too late to start your career planning. Formulating your career goal plan is not a hard activity but people are dreaded by it or are put off because they are just being lazy and do not want to go through the effort. In fact, if done right, this activity can turn out to be fulfilling and liberating, structuring a strategy for how your current career can help you move into another direction.
In this blog post, I will discuss how effective career planning can be a positive and rewarding experience.
- Make Career Goal Planning an Annual Activity. We do many things in regular intervals, as visiting our dentists and eye doctors or getting our home renovated and painted. Just like this, we should also do career planning once each year. You should take out a weekend at least once each year to sit down and perform a career planning activity. Block out all and any distractions so that you can clearly focus on your career position and which direction do you want it to take. The advantage of conducting a career planning session annually is that it will allow you to feel secure in your career direction and will take any such planning more seriously as it is a yearly event. Moreover, you will have 12 months of added experience to make a more informed and calculated decision about your career.
- Create a Map of your Path since the Last Career Planning Session. A basic activity while starting career goals planning is that you spend time mapping out your career path from the last time you performed any kind of career planning. While I do not recommend you dwelling too much in your past, it will help to take out the time to review and reflect on the paths that you chose in the past. One you map out your past, you will be able to take out time to reflect on the direction that you too and ponder why it currently looks the way it does. You will be in a stronger position to answer questions like: Are you happy with the career path? Could there have been something better? What are the things that you might have done differently? What are the things that you can change in the future? A performed review of the past year will help you conduct informed decisions for your future.
- Look at your Likes, Dislikes, Needs and Wants. Change is a part of our life. Everything changes with time, including our like and dislikes. It is possible that something we thoroughly enjoyed doing a few years back now gives us complete displeasure. Therefore, you should take out time to reflect on all the things on your life and the kind of emotions they hold. Just staying focused on your job will give you a very narrow feedback on all that you want to change in the coming years. I recommend that you create two columns – one for your major like and the other for dislikes. Ones these lists are creates, compare them with you current career path and job and see how they fit in. If your career is still falling in the like column primarily then you can say that you are on the right path. However, if the job activities that you are performing at your workplace are mostly falling in the dislike column then it might be the clearest signal that you need to start examining new careers and job opportunities. Once the columns have been tallied and you have performed an initial audit of your career position, you should take out time to sit and think about the things that you want to achieve from your career plan. Are you looking forward to making a real difference in the world? Do you want to get famous? Are you looking at becoming financially independent? Take out some time to understand your motivations and all that will bring you success and happiness.
- Look at your Pastimes and Hobbies. Another advantage of career planning is that it allows you to examine all the activities that you like to do when you are not working. Do not think that examining non-work activities while planning your career is useless. In fact, most of the times, your leisurely pursuits and hobbies can help you get great insight into your future career paths. Moreover, while I do not say that each hobby can be converted into a financially successful career, but theirs is nothing better than that! Many people do it and achieve great satisfaction and monetary success. What you will have to calculate is how much you will enjoy your hobby once it becomes your career, as there are cases where people have fallen out of love with their hobbies just because they became a job for them and the idea of an “activity out of work” dies out.
- List down Your Past Accomplishments. I have seen people not keep any record of all the great things that they achieve in the past. This can affect people when they sit down to prepare an impactful resume. It is important to make a note of the accomplishments – you should keep a record as it will not only help you in building your resume but will also be useful for your career planning. Check out these 10 Tips to Make Your Resume Pop. It is possible that reviewing your accomplishments will highlight the successes that you have forgotten and might lead to planning a career shift to help you be in a job that allows you to achieve similar successes. Ideally, you should maintain a portfolio listing down your greatest accomplishments and the projects that were highly successful.
- Look Beyond your Existing Career. It is common to see people are so wrapped up in their current jobs and job title that they simply do not have the capacity to consider any other career possibilities for themselves. There are a certain set of skills required for every job and it is much convenient if you categorize each of the skills that you have against these jobs. This will allow you to see how you can add value to the future jobs and understand where you need to improve yourself. Looking at the required skills will also highlight any professional education and/or certification that you will need to have under your belt to excel in a specific career.
- Review Current Job Trends. While you can be confident on how your skills are unique and how you can successfully market them, it is essential to have complete information about the career trends that are vital to a longer-term career goals planning success. It is possible that a career path that is expanding right now will soon end up shrinking in a year. Therefore, it is critical to know where job growth is expected, especially in the career paths that interest you. Along with knowing where you stand, such a research will also help you understand how you can strengthen your position – your unique selling proposition. For success these days, it is important to have a unique set of accomplishments, education and skills that will make you stand out and look better than the others.
- Have a Clear Set of Career Goals. Next, you will need to develop a clear roadmap for your career success. “I can be successful in my career without setting goals!” you might say. However, to be successful in your career and to be able to track your progress, you will need to set goals for you. Any career planning divided into short-term and long-term goals. The short-term goals are the ones that are to be achieved in the coming year, while the long-term goals are the ones that are beyond one year. Once this process is initiated, you will need to constantly review and adjust these goals are you progress or change your career plans. New goals will be developed and added to the previous goals as you move forward.
These are my 8 tips to successfully formulating a career goal plan. Do you have any tips of your own? Did you consider other areas while creating a career plan of your own? What impact did career planning have in your career and job success? I would love to know about them! Share your stories with me in the comments section below. I also welcome you to check our other blog posts on career planning, including Career Planning: What To Consider For Future You, Is Your Current Career Cramping Your Style? Make These Changes Now and 5 Ways Women Can Get a Career Boost.