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10 steps to creating a strategic plan for your career
Many of us spend our working lives without a clear plan for creating a satisfying career path, or we start with a plan, then ditch it, forget about it or decide it can’t be done.
In fact, it’s not so hard to take the driver’s seat of your career, develop a plan for your working life and map out action steps to take you there (whether ‘there’ is CEO of a top company, or owner of your own small business, or doing a series of satisfying creative projects).
Know your strengths and skills, work out how to leverage them and where to polish them and you will shine, even in turbulent times. Know where you are heading and steer a strong course, and you won’t drift in and out of jobs just because they were there. And if you do change direction, you’ll have the tools to do it with confidence.
Here’s a 10-step checklist for a simple strategic career plan:
1, How will you increase your strengths (and the time spent using them)? List 3 ways to do this.
Using your strengths at work is a recipe for job satisfaction, and it is also a key way to get noticed and promoted. Think about your key strengths (things you enjoy doing, that make you feel strong) and plan to use them more.
2, How will you reduce time spent doing activities you dislike? List 3 ways to do this.
Most of us are very clear about what we don’t like doing, but often assume that we have no choice in the matter. Can you use some creative thinking here – swap tasks with a workmate or filter it through a strength (if you are a people person, why not make the dreaded task a team activity, for example)?
3, What skills will you will improve? List your top 3.
These might be in areas that are holding you back, or new skills you’d love to add to your repertoire.
4, How will you keep up with developments in your field? List 3 ways to do this.
Sign up for a journal subscription, join a networking group, or do some strategic internet browsing.
5, How will you connect more with your values? List 3 ways to do this.
If you’re doing work that is not aligned with your core values, dissatisfaction and internal stress will follow. List your top values, and make sure you work (and live) in accordance with them.
6, How will you increase your use of networks? List 3 ways to do this.
Online and offline networking are essential if you want to forge ahead in your career.
7, Is your resume up to date? And your Linked In profile?
If not, fix them
8, Is anything in the way – unhelpful beliefs, anxiety, inner critic talk or procrastination?
These are often the biggest reason behind a stalled career. If you suspect this is true for you, do something about it – read a book, talk to a coach or counsellor, devise a strategy for handling the issue.
9, Where are you playing small? What is the risk (or opportunity) you’re not taking?
Most of us know that if we couldn’t fail, we would be braver and more strategic in our career. Even though failure is always possible, you need to find the courage to make these moves anyway.
10, What are the action steps that will take your career to the next level?
These questions are a great first step. Next, turn your answers into a series of actions that are clear and have a timeframe to them – and then DO the actions, one by one. Simple.