Managing your career is not your employer’s job, nor your favourite recruiter’s. It’s your job. No one else has the same interest and commitment to your career and future as you do. In addition to social media maintenance, networking, and personal branding, every adult should spend some time every month on plans and goals. Below are 5 tips for career planning which will help you get started if you’re new to being your own manager, and will help you get organized and stay on course if you’re an old hand at it!
Chart immediate goals first.
Plan 2-5 years out in detail and hold yourself accountable for those plans and goals. Adding a few long-term goals is good, but your primary focus should be on the near future. Any further out than 5 years, and circumstances will change as you grow and develop as a leader. Do you feel that you need more education to reach the next level? Start looking into an MBA, executive MBA, or begin studying for certifications or licenses you’ll need to accomplish your goals. Concerned there’s no room for growth in your current job? Get ready for a job search!
As a colleague of mine points out, “Life happens!” Keep in mind that your personal and professional life can change quickly, taking you on a journey that looks quite different from your original plan. Starting a family or the need to care for an aging parent can delay your goals or give you a new perspective. A sideways promotion can offer new skills and experience that help you understand that different goals may be a better fit for you. Stay flexible and agile enough to accept and adapt to change as it happens.
Search your network for those who have already travelled a path you’d like to follow and ask their advice. Seek out people who are highly skilled leaders and learn from them. Then offer your own experience to others. The best leaders are those who enable their team members to reach their full potential and serve those they lead. There’s no better time to begin learning how to accept and offer valuable leadership!
Never stop learning.
Great leaders don’t rest on their laurels. They recognize there is always a mentor to seek at the next level and something to improve in themselves. Those who feel they’ve reached the top and stop pushing themselves, stagnate. A rigid outlook and narrow perspective have tanked more than a few businesses along the way. You’ll never become outdated if you’re still learning, growing, and reaching for what’s next.
From small victories to big wins, take the time to celebrate success in every form. One long, hard push to the top will wear you out before you can reach the first peak, much less the summit! And while you celebrate your personal success, remember to celebrate your employees and your mentors.