What separates a job from a career is the trajectory: jobs tend to be short-term and focused on the present, while a career takes on a longer form and an indefinite amount of time. To get further in life and attain your goals, developing your career is necessary. It may entail focusing on the ‘now’, one job at a time, but it also includes looking at how your job will affect your career. Creating a career plan can be very helpful in helping you create decisions that will help you down the line and making you more skilled to fit your role further.
However, career development and career planning don’t have a “one size fits all” rule. It varies from person to person, industry to industry, and experience to experience. This doesn’t mean that you should leave your situation entirely up to fate, as there are actions you can take to help further your career. Below are a few helpful tips to get you started.
Identify Your Goal
First and foremost, is identifying your goal. While it may sound simple, it can actually be difficult as most’ goals’ people have are very vague and general. It wouldn’t do much to chase clouds, so instead, think of something concrete and tangible. Grand statements such as “I will be a CEO” or “I will be rich” are unclear goals that will set you down a frustrating path.
Instead, sit down and pinpoint what it is you truly want. Are you happy in your current industry? Are you thinking of a career shift? Do you want to move up the corporate ladder? Do you want to own a healthcare franchise or a restaurant business in the future? These are the questions you can ask yourself to narrow down your end goal. While it doesn’t have to be too specific, it should be clear enough that you can create a strategy for achieving it. This strategy includes the skill sets and any other certifications necessary for you to achieve it. Look at what you truly want, and then you can set your own path towards it.
Having a clear goal in mind will help you achieve both your short-term and long-term goals. And by doing this, you can safely prioritize what actions you need to do first. Knowing your goals will help you create a list of options; be it alternative paths you can take or a different approach in reaching your goal. But all of this includes prioritizing, and it will be something you will do a lot.
Do you lack the skills necessary to improve your career? Prioritize skill development. Are you looking to start a business? Then prioritize the initial tasks of starting one. Create a list of priorities that will help you take steps; these priorities can range from simple goals such as “getting a driver’s license” to something bigger like “getting a master’s degree in business.” Remember to create priorities for both short-term and long-term as well, as only creating long-term priorities will leave you questioning yourself whether you’re actually progressing.
Use SMART Goals
Mnemonic acronyms are really useful tools from taking tests to buying something at the grocery- but they are also useful when it comes to coming up with a career plan. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This mnemonic tool will help you in setting your goals in your life and in your career.
Specific: As mentioned before, it helps to be specific with your goal. But not just with your end target, but also in the steps along the way. Ask yourself “What do I want to accomplish in this month? In 6 months? In 5 years”. Creating specific goals in this manner will help you create a self-guide to follow.
Measurable: It doesn’t do to have something vague and abstract as a goal. A specific and measurable goal is something that will tell you what to do and how well you did it. You can use statistics or a quantitative response as a measuring stick for both long and short term goals.
Attainable: Be realistic. An impossible goal can only be attained with small but realistic steps, but these small, realistic steps combined make up a considerable achievement. Always be realistic in your goal setting.
Relevant: How relevant are your current actions to your long-term goals? Will they be helping you in achieving them? Do your best to take relevant actions that will play a part in your long-term goals, for example, learning a new skill relevant in your industry. It will always do well to keep relevance in mind, and by doing so, you are making yourself relevant in your field.
Time-Bound: Create a time-frame for your goals. This will not only give you a sense of positive pressure but will also guide you in where you should be in your strategy at certain points in time.