You map out your work day to ensure that you achieve everything you need to, so why wouldn’t you plan something as important as your career?
If you’ve never actually stopped and planned your career it’s likely that (like a lot of people) you might be just winging it and hoping for the best each day. However as career strategist and coach Megan Dalla-Camina says, hope is not a strategy. If you want longevity in your career it’s time to start preparing for it.
You need to have a plan. You need to know what you’re doing, what your hopes and your dreams are, what you’re passionate about, and what your strengths are,” says Dalla Camina.
So what exactly is a career plan? Think of it as a strategy for your career that involves mapping out what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it. Not only will it give you a clearer idea of your career path, it also brings countless additional benefits.
Finding a career path that will be fulfilling
What are you passionate about? What do you most want to know about, learn about and do in the world? Answering those questions will get you on your most purposeful path,’’ says Dalla-Camina.
Knowing what drives and excites you will help you identify what you need for a more fulfilling career and the steps you need to take to achieve it. Do you find that you feel energised when you are able to work with others but your current job has you largely working on your own? It might be time to look for other roles in your industry where you could work in a more collaborative atmosphere.
Taking the time to self-reflect will also crystallise other things that you may want out of your career such as an improved work/life balance or better financial security. Knowing these are priorities will mean that you can take them into account when making decisions about your career moving forward.
Having a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses
Not many of us take the time to identify our strengths and weaknesses until we’re asked in a job interview. Having a sound view of yourself at any given moment will help you know what you need to improve on and what your selling points are.
You need to do an inventory of your skills and your achievements,” says Dalla-Camina. “Look at where you’ve been, what you’re currently really good at, how you’re using your strengths and what the gaps are that you need to fill to get to where you want to go.
Knowing that there are gaps in your skill set will allow you to identify any further training you may need to undertake or if you need to take steps to gain more experience in a certain field.
Building up a strong support network
A concrete career plan will indicate whether you’ll need some external support to make your goals a reality. It might become clear that you need devote some time to networking in order to build up more professional relationships, or explore the possibility of finding a mentor or sponsor.
According to Dalla-Camina the right mentor or sponsor can help with pivotal moments in your career.
If you are thinking of changing careers, are at a cross roads, or are having a particular challenge in your workplace, the right mentor can save you a whole lot of stress and indecision by sharing insights and helping you make the right career choices,” says Dalla-Camina.
Knowing which goals to prioritise
Most of us have a long list of goals to achieve but being able to prioritise them will mean a more efficient use of your time. For example, knowing that you’ll need to focus on gaining another qualification in order to be eligible for another role means you can prioritise hitting the books over filling out a dozen job applications.
Having a concrete career plan will mean that you’re able to stay more focused as you’ll know exactly what you need to achieve at all times. This targeted approach means you’re able to make better strategic moves as you navigate your working life and get to where you want to be.
Learn how Megan Dalla-Camina transformed her life, both personally and professionally, using a career plan: