Having goals, ambition and knowing what you want is crucial to succeeding in your career. Without a clear pathway it can be difficult to decide what direction you want to go in and what decisions you need to make along the way. That’s where career planning comes in.

What is career planning? 

Career planning is the process of making decisions about what you want to do with your work life and how you’ll accomplish it. This will look slightly different for everyone involved and isn’t necessarily something you’d just do once. 

Creating a career plan is a great way to set out your goals and how you’ll reach them. Obviously, nothing is set in stone but it’s helpful to write down where you are now, where you want to be, and plan how you are going to get there. This should be an ongoing process that you revisit, especially when you, or the world, have changed. 

Here are key steps to help you create your career plan.

Step 1: Where are you now?

To get to where you want to be, you need to know where you are now. Evaluate your current work situation and consider your personality, preferences, skills and values. 

Step 1 in career planning basically comes down to self-assessment and evaluation. This is a good start to creating a career plan. Here are a few questions to kick things off:

  • What motivates me and what do I enjoy doing?
  • What are my personal attributes and lifestyle priorities?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do I look for in a job?

Step 2: Where do you want to be?

Based on your self-evaluation of your key interests, attributes, skills and experience, you can now start to formulate ideas on the type of roles/industries that you’d like to work in. 

Start by brainstorming all the ideas that come to mind: 

  • What industry do you want to work in?
  • Do you want more flexibility?
  • Do you want a role that’s fully remote? 
  • Are you looking for full-time or part-time work? 
  • Do you want more responsibility? And to manager a wider team? 

Be bold with your goal-setting at this stage in the process. Eventually, narrow these down by process of elimination based on a realistic look at your interests, skills and experience. 

Reflect more closely on your skill set now, as this will be an important indicator to help decide what direction you should go in.

Step 3: How are you going to get there?

Now that you have an idea of where you want to go, it’s time to work out how you can get there. Ask yourself the following questions to help break down your goals into smaller, more manageable milestones for your career plan:

  • What do I want to achieve within the next six, twelve and eighteen months?
  • How and when will I achieve my training and education goals?
  • How and when will I gain the additional skills and experience I need?
  • How can I expand my network, and by when should I aim to do so?

What’s next?

Once you have established your career goals and how to achieve them, you should have a clear pathway to follow. While it’s important to monitor the progress of your career plan and stay on track with your goals, it’s also okay to change direction when opportunities arise, re-evaluating your career plan based on changing economic and personal circumstances.

For more advice on managing your career and getting ahead, visit our job search advice now.


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