Have you ever considered a career action plan?

‘A goal without an action plan is a daydream.’ – Nathaniel Branden

We have covered personal goals earlier in September, but now I would like to focus on careers, and what I liked about putting together an ‘action plan’ is that it is more than just writing down an aspiration, it is something that drives what you want to accomplish.

You may be wanting to step up in your current role or you may want to change roles (or even career paths) but regardless of where you are I hope you can benefit from some of the steps I have found beneficial in putting career goals into action.

1. My Profile – Understanding who I am and what I want to achieve

What you want to do with your career is not up to anyone else but you. As with personal passions are you in line with what you are passionate about professionally? What steps do I need to take to get to where you want in your career?

• Have you considered career guidance to reflect on your strengths, career interests and where you want to take your career next?

• Update resume and LinkedIn profile – are they all up to date and accurately represent you and the next career step you want to take?

• Audience – Who are you trying to reach out to so that you can start getting your career goals on track? Are you connecting with others through networking? Is your boss aware of what you are currently seeking or trying to achieve? Are you presenting levels of enthusiasm and reaching out for opportunities when they present themselves?

2. My Progress – Reflecting on my past achievements and what I have gained up until this stage of my career.

Let’s face it, what we have achieved or have made decisions on in the past have led us to where we are today. Whether it is training courses, networking events, recognition for hard work resulting in promotions/ publications etc.

Once you have accurately reviewed your previous achievements, ask yourself:

• What can you learn from these experiences to get you ahead?

• How can they be a benefit for you now (e.g. transferrable skills)?

• Is there anything that you need to be refreshed on?• What have you achieved recently to take you to that next step in your career?

• Are there any courses or projects that you can put your hand up for at the moment?

3. My Goals and Plans – What am I hoping to achieve and by when?

This is similar to what I have covered with personal goals. You cannot expect to complete any goal unless you write it down and put a timeframe on it.

Some people have one year, five year or even ten year goal plans. Take the time to brainstorm, set out a plan, and then for that first year break down the tasks to achievable timeframes (weekly, fortnightly, monthly, every six months etc.) Just think of it like a daily schedule that has been extended by twelve months!

It can be hard sometimes to imagine where you will end up in six months’ time let alone a year or more but having a sense of direction is the key. It’s the force that drives you even if the direction might change slightly or may not go exactly according to plan. Having written goals and plans lead you into action, and keep the list near you or in your calendar as a reminder so you don’t fall off track. It will save you from distraction. This helps me more than anything to have reminders and information written down so that I can act now and also plan ahead.

4. My Review – My continual follow up and reflection on where my career goals have taken me to move on to the next step

Managing your career means managing your progression. Once you have reached one of your goals and ticked it off your list it is important to reflect on the steps you took to achieve the goal. Established what had worked and what didn’t work so that you know what to avoid in the future.

• Have you received any valuable feedback or direction from someone along the way?

• Have any doors opened as a result of completing this goal?

• Do you need to tweak any of your remaining goals?

There can also be the case where your goals have not gone according to plan. If not handled properly it can leave you bitter and disappointed. It could even lead to you giving up on that direction all together. My advice on this point would be to make sure to evaluate all avenues before letting go of any goals. If you are not open to the prospect:

• That other doors may open as a result of this roadblock or

• Asking yourself if you could review this at a later stage (if it wasn’t the right time)

Then you could be missing out on potential opportunity. And if something is really bothering you, speak to someone you can trust – a friend, family member, a mentor or colleague. Having a second opinion can really help you make your decision.

Have you ever had a career action plan? If so, where has it taken you in your career?