Plan for Your Career in 2019
The career planning process involves three steps: create a vision of the future, develop an action plan, and create a time line for achieving your goals.
Develop a vision
Without a vision, you may end up bumping along in a dead-end job or a series of jobs that are ultimately disappointing. If you have a vision though, you can aim for specific jobs and work responsibilities, which can act like stepping stones that will get you where you want to go.
Your vision becomes your overarching career goal. So when you create your vision, be sure to keep these important details in mind:
- Be true to yourself and keep in mind your values, interests, lifestyle aspirations, strengths and weaknesses, and your personal attributes.
- Don’t get overly committed to a specific job or path. Your circumstances will change over time, and you’ll change too as you live your life and experience new things.
- Don’t get bogged down in details. Stay focused on larger goals and don’t sweat the small stuff.
When you think about your future, you may ask yourself some questions to stimulate your thinking:
- Is there a particular topic or activity that I enjoy?
- Is there a specific job that attracts me?
- Is there an industry that I’d like to investigate?
It’s a good idea to do some market research to make sure your dream job actually exists. And, you want to find the industry or market where you can fulfill your vision most efficiently. Begin with your current organization and think in broad terms about which areas might have a need for your skills. Think about how your strengths fit within those areas and what kinds of problems you could help the organization resolve. Consider whether changes are coming along that might impact your vision.
If you don’t think you’d be able to fulfill your vision in your current market, research other markets. Use any and all resources for information. The Internet is particularly helpful. You may also have or want to get started building a network of contacts with whom you can share career information.
Create an action plan
An action plan is a detailed outline of the goals and objectives you must meet in order to achieve your overall vision. When you make your action plan, it’s much easier to break the time frame into manageable chunks, and work from the end point backwards. Nobody can plan 15 years into the future – there are too many variables to consider. But you can certainly plan for where you want to be a year from now.
In many respects, action planning is similar to the performance appraisal process. You figure out where you want to be or what you want to be doing a year from now to be on track with your career goal. Then you establish shorter term goals and objectives that will get you there.
If you don’t set goals and objectives, you’ll lose track of your progress. Goals and objectives enable you to check off the qualifications you need as you acquire them. You achieve a sense of progress that can sustain you over the long haul and motivate you to continue on your path. Your short-term goals and objectives are established to correct deficiencies in your skill and knowledge levels. Some deficiencies represent gaps in knowledge. The solution to knowledge deficiencies is training. Other deficiencies represent gaps in experience. You can only correct experience deficiencies with actual experience.
Set a time line
Setting a time line is something you can do at the same time you make your action plan. The time line is what sets an action plan apart from a simple “to do” list. People respond to target dates; they don’t like to exceed them. So assigning dates to actions helps to ensure the actions will be attended to in the desired time.
People change over time. The environment changes and priorities shift. Unless you revise your action plan to correspond with your personal changes, the plan ceases to be a useful tool and becomes a relic. To avoid this fate, you should include “Evaluate action plan” as an objective on the plan and give it an estimated time of completion.
After you’ve evaluated your situation and you have a full inventory of your values, needs, strengths, and weaknesses, you need to pull it all together and develop your career plan. You can do this in three steps: develop a vision of the future, create an action plan, and establish a time line for your development plan.