Planning is an interesting thing, in fact it’s one of my passions. An essential part of my job is to help people plan. Plan their sales goals, pricing or business exits. I’m also regularly asked: “How do I plan my career?”
As a coach, I guide people - I give suggestions on how to create the plan but I leave the planning up to them. This is the way I think about career planning; I’ll leave the rest to you:
Create a 5-year Plan
When thinking about my future, I always resort to 5-year plans. They’re just far enough in the future for you to lay down tracks that will take you to significant milestones and achievements but not so far that you can procrastinate on them.
5 Dimensions of Life
If you haven’t figured it out yet, your career plan is a part of your life plan. Your happiness in life involves finding your personal balance in these 5 dimensions: Professional Career, Family, Health, Community and Spirit.
Taking into consideration these dimensions I envision what my end state will be five years down the road in each respect. Then, I come up with goals that will help me achieve those end-states, making sure I can still satisfy my needs in each category.
By nature I’m an analytical guy, so a simple one-liner goal isn’t enough for me. I make sure they’re SMART by asking myself the following questions: Why is it important? Who will it impact in a positive way? What’s the metric I will use to test my success?
Plan for the Plan
It’s important that all “plans,” actually have a plan. That’s why I always ask myself what I’ll need to do 3 months from now, 1 year from now or even 3 years from now to get where I want to be in 5 years.
Monitor Your Success
If you’re committed to the goal, you have to commit time to monitoring your own success. On a monthly basis I reflect on my progress and document my thoughts into a journal. Some questions I ask myself are: Did I achieve what I wanted? What worked? What didn’t work? What could I do differently?
Five years seems like a really long time but the truth is that it really isn’t. If you’re planning for 1 year, 2 years or 5 years from now, don’t forget to take the necessary baby steps. Eventually you’ll reach your goal, just be patient with it.