It’s the year 2011, Hillary Clinton is President, the San Francisco 49ers are in the Super Bowl and all cars are getting 35 mpg. So much has changed in the past three years, but can that be said about your career? Maybe not and that’s okay with you. You like what you’ve been doing for the past few years and can see yourself continuing on. On the other hand, in 2011 if you wish you were doing something different, the best time to address that is now, back here in 2007.
We all know how quickly time flies. Before you know it, it will be 2011. Rather than looking at the past 3 years with regret, wouldn’t it be better to have filled that time with constructive progress towards your ultimate career goal?
We speak to people every day who are too busy doing their jobs to manage their careers. They don’t have a plan and are not making headway towards their ultimate career goals.
In order to get where you want to go, it’s necessary to have a well thought-out career plan.
Here’s our Take Five on how to create one:
- Be Specific – There’s a saying “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Specifically, what is your ultimate career goal? Where do you need to be in three years that will strongly position you for that goal? By making that determination, you will work towards a concrete objective. Many of you do this on a regular basis for your companies. Apply the same principles to your own career.
- What Skill Sets Will You Need? Now is the time to make the honest assessment to shore these up. There may be some skills you need to improve and some new skills that you need to incorporate. Determine what these are so that you can start working on them now.
- Start Networking Today – Reach out to people who are currently in the position you want. These people can give you advice on what you need to do in order to prepare for that future role. They can also serve as mentors along the way and as advocates for your being selected for that new role when the time comes.
- Establish a Timeline – Make a list of the required skills from #2 and #3 and put together a timeline of how and when these will be accomplished. Be aggressive in your three year timetable so that you are consistently moving forward. Whatever activities are necessary to accomplish your goal should be scheduled just as you would with any project you work on. This timeline will be the blueprint for your career goal.
- Celebrate Milestones – It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the milestones – those significant achievements you realize along the way. This will keep your motivation level high. Set your milestones appropriately so that they truly represent significant progress.
These steps are very doable and are a good framework for achieving what you want. Having a career plan, like having a financial plan, will give you peace of mind knowing that you are doing what you need to be doing today. We are on the eve of 2008 and now is the time to create a plan for your long term success.