It Is Never Too Late to Plan Your Career: What Are You Doing in the Next Year?

It Is Never Too Late to Plan Your Career: What Are You Doing in the Next Year?

It’s never too late to start planning your career.

Even if you have never planned your career, and especially if you do not like your current job, you can start now and move toward an exciting path that suits you.

The truth is most people plan their vacation with more passion than they do their career. It could be because they do not know how, or it seems too difficult to think about the future and the uncertainty that it brings. Perhaps there is a lack of clarity around what appeals to you and if you only have a vague idea of where you want to be in a decade, you may not know how to get from point A to point B.

I wrote this article to underscore the importance of planning your career. Months can turn into years and years into decades and that is a long time to spin your wheels and stay stuck. I have seen many people never realize their dreams or live up to their full potential.

If you want to achieve your career goals, you will have to make a plan to reach them. Read on to learn the first steps to take to start planning your career.

Why It's Important to Plan Your Career

The most important reason to plan your career is for fulfillment, this is financial realization and personal satisfaction. Career planning is essential to fulfill your potential and optimize your income. Without a plan, you are left to chance to fulfill your financial goals leaving your retirement on shaky grounds. Retirement income is usually based on your earlier success. You likely participated in some early career planning with the help of a guidance counselor in high school or the career center in college, but did you continue to develop a timeline for yourself after graduation? Career planning is an ongoing process that you should continue to focus upon throughout your working life. In fact, revise your plan every two years to make sure you stay on track. When you make an effort to plan your career rather than just “looking for jobs,” in your field, you will experience greater satisfaction in all areas of your life. Because you spent time and effort thinking about what you want for yourself in the career realm, you will be confident that you are on the right path for you. The odds of you reaching these goals goes up 100x, whereas, without a plan, it is like playing the roulette wheel hoping you will land a “job you enjoy.”
The odds of you reaching these goals goes up 100x, whereas, without a plan, it is like playing the roulette wheel hoping you will land a “job you enjoy.”

What You Can Do Right Now

When it comes to setting up your future timeline and career planning, there is no one perfect way to do it. I am laying out a suggested route, while your plan may look different, it should include these steps.

In order to analyze your wants and needs for your ideal life, you will want to reflect, brainstorm, reflect and then brainstorm more. The following steps will help guide your way.

Start Here: Reflection

When it comes to career planning, the first step is healthy reflection and analysis. Take time to think (and journal) about what energizes you in the world of work.

Consider the following:

  • What are your strengthsand weaknesses?
  • What are your talents and abilities?
  • What educational background do you bring to the table?
  • What do you like to do?
  • What values are important and are there non-negotiables?
  • Do you have any employment-related deal breakers?
  • What are your overall lifestyle goals?

I suggest taking a big picture view, first, and then working backward as you consider your experience, education, and expertise.

Explore Your Opportunities

Once you have taken inventory and reflected about who you are, the skills you have, and your likes and dislikes, your next step is to begin thinking about the career opportunities that may be available to you. 

Do you have a company or a position in mind? Are you ready now to jump in, or is there preparation, more education or training needed to pursue it? Do you know anyone in a similar position you can talk to and learn about the day to day of this role? 

On the other hand, if you have a vague idea of what you want, how can you explore this? Consider shadowing, volunteering, or interning somewhere to get more day-to-day information.

Reflect:

Think more specifically about your life and what you want it to look like. Ask yourself, the following: 

  • How much money do I want to make, by what age?
  • Do I have to live in a certain area, mountains, beach, city?
  • Do I have other personal goals that are going to impact my time and resources like starting a family, travel?
  • Are there companies I admire? What is it about those companies that is appealing?

Set Goals for Yourself

Once you have a clear picture of what you want, it is time to set (and write down) your goals. You should take time to set relevant and sticky goals that will compel you to stay on target. If you don’t know how to create actionable, achievable goals, you’re not alone. One great system to help you set goals is the 1-3-5 method. With this goal-setting method, you begin with one of your goals. Next, you break that goal into three priorities to help you reach it, and then you identify five strategies you can use to meet each of those priorities. You’ll be amazed at how this method can help you take a main goal and transform it into actionable steps. It will be easier to reach your goals with these action steps.
When it comes to goals, always start with the end in mind and work backward from there.
When it comes to goals, always start with the end in mind and work backward from there. Choose a goal, identify the steps you’ll need to get there, and create a timeline to reach your end result – and stick to it!

Obstacles to Achieving Your Career Goals

Of course, you’ll face obstacles on your career path; nothing in this world worth pursuing comes easy. 

Some obstacles will be external. These are sometimes things that are within your control, but you also need to be prepared to recognize and accept those obstacles that are outside of your control. 

Many of the obstacles you’ll encounter, though, will be internal. You’ll need to be very honest with yourself to identify them; this makes it possible to overcome them. Some common internal obstacles include perfectionism, anxiety, laziness, fear, procrastination, and feelings of inadequacy.  

Internal obstacles can be defeated. You simply have to take steps to change and stick to them. This may sound easier said than done, but keep in mind many people before you and many people will come after you who have overcome them. It is said in the Bible, what one person achieves, anyone can achieve. This is sage advice!

Career Planning Is an Ongoing Process

Career planning is not a one-time event; it is an ongoing process. You’ll need to repeat this process on a regular basis to make sure you remain on the path that’s best for you.

When you take the time and make the effort to plan your career, you can take a look into the future. While no one can predict exactly what will happen, you can direct your steps with a plan.

Thanks to career planning, you can begin to work towards the goals you have for yourself. Career planning will help you to avoid becoming stuck somewhere you don’t want to be and can help you reach your full potential. Good luck!

If you’d like some help working your way through these steps, check out the Lead Smart Club. It is a one on one coaching program designed to advance your goals. It is our mission to help you get where you want to be! We can’t wait to hear from you. 

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IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO PLAN YOUR CAREER

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Dr. Cynthia Howard

Dr. Cynthia Howard has worked with thousands of leaders, professionals and business owners and recognized the unique challenges leaders have in managing, inspiring, and engaging their teams while maintaining their boundaries, passion and reason they chose to lead.

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