Your career isn’t just a job you do to pay the rent. A successful career means planning ahead, understanding yourself and your values, enlisting help, being patient but flexible and doing something every day that moves you toward your goal.
If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, You’ll Never Get There
Have a vision for your career. That vision can be anything: doctor, CEO, IT specialist, business owner, stand-up comedian. From that end point, work your way back to where you are today. Ask yourself: From where I am right now, what are the steps I need take and what accomplishments do I need to attain to get to that end point? Your career plan should list both short- and long-term career goals and the actions you must take to achieve them.
First, Know Thyself
An honest self-assessment is the essential first step in planning your career and will require some serious reflection on your part. What are you good at? What are you not good at? What are your skills? What interests you? What bores you? What are your values? What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Consider taking the Myers-Briggs personality test to gain further insights.
Enlist Your Manager
Think about how your manager can help you achieve your goals. Talk to your manager on a regular basis to discuss your goals. Your manager can remove obstacles, offer guidance and advice and adjust job performance metrics to match your goals. You should be prepared to show how your goals coincide with the needs of your organization.
Time and Flexibility
When setting your professional goals at work, realize you’ll need patience. Reaching your career goals doesn’t happen overnight. At some point, you will either hit a wall or seem to plateau. That’s when it’s important to stay on target and keep up those daily routines. It’s a good idea to remain flexible. Goals can change over time or due to new circumstances. Keep your eye on your long-term goals, but be willing to adjust along the way.
Actions Every Day
Achieving your career goals is a continual process. The following should be routine for you:
- Use criticism and feedback to improve but ignore the naysayers
- Continuously research trends in your industry; as you learn about your chosen vocation , you’ll complete more and advance faster
- Network with people in your industry but also talk to people outside of your field: you’d be surprised howthat can sometimes unexpectedly open a new door
- Always improve: enhance your current skills and acquire new skills
- Take calculated risks, try something new or take on a task a bit outside your comfort zone
As you plan your career, remember the old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” (And that goes for Jill, too.) Of course, you want a successful career but not at the price of enjoying life. A robust career plan should balance your work and personal life. Of course, if you choose your career that dovetails with your values and interests, work can be fun and engaging.