Career Planning

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To thrive in today’s dynamic workforce, employees need to assume responsibility for their career planning and be actively involved in developing a career strategy.

Career planning becomes an exciting endeavor when you approach it with a spirit of adventure. This blog post will give you ideas of what to include in your current career plan: your drive, your goals, fitting in (your likeability), your attitude towards your work (loving what you do), working hard to achieve your goals, having fun, standing out from the crowd, and creating a work-life balance.

Regardless of where you are in life, whether you are starting your first job, or you are an experienced worker, dedicating time to career planning is, first and foremost, an investment in yourself. It’s your maintenance plan. You maintain your car regularly, and you maintain a living space. Your career needs foundation blocks, and it needs regular maintenance too.

You can look at the nine foundations as questions:

  1. Can you explain your super goals?
  2. Can you describe the new situations and steps you have taken to fit in?
  3. What is your attitude towards your work?
  1. What do you love to do?
  2. What have you done that you loved?
  3. Have you successfully overcome obstacles to achieve a goal?
  4. What do you do for fun?
  5. What do you think fun at work means?
  6. Can you describe someone who stands out from the crowd?
  7. What characteristics make someone a stand-out?
  8. What kind of work-life balance are you aiming for?
  9. Are you willing to forgo goals in the short-term to have a more balanced life?
  10. If you want to move ahead quickly, are you willing to sacrifice your personal life?

Your career plan includes your answers to these questions, and any thoughts you have on each category. You may even find you add to the number of foundation blocks.

There are two basic components to your career plan: your thoughts and your actions. You would want to think positively, and take positive actions to make those thoughts concrete.

You surely know that the people who write down their goals are more successful at achieving them than the people who don’t’. They have prepared. They are more able to talk about their goals because they have worked things out, not only in thought but in action as well. Once they have formed their goal, they can proceed to adding more detail: when they want it, how they will achieve it, who will be involved, how much will it cost them (in money, and in time).

One way to approach your career plan is to make it visual, using sheets of paper, markers, masking tape, and any helpful images you have handy. Don’t shy away from color – color adds meaning. If a certain person consistently shows up in your plan in bright red, it may mean they are angry. You have been avoiding this, but now you have to admit this person — maybe a friend, co-worker, or someone who you expected that would offer assistance, is angry, and you have in fact been avoiding them. Color adds many clues to help you understand and remember.

Use one sheet per heading. Write down every thought that fits in that category. It may help you to work quickly — that way, you don’t edit anything out. Aim for quantity at this stage. You can refine the product at a later date.

For drive, consider: are you a morning person or a night owl? What is your best time of the day? What distance are you willing to commute to work? Are you primarily a competitor or a cooperator? Do you enjoy working with other people, or do you want to work on your own?

If you find that being in a noisy, crowded environment saps your energy, it will also come to affect your drive. Consider how you deal with setbacks. Everyone encounters obstacles, but if you find your drive is diminishing, there may be things in the workplace or your personala life that add difficulty. Your drive is your energy and commitment to your goals. Some people are blessed with tons of energy. If you perceive an imbalance between what you put out and what you get back, you may want to note this. When you have completed all the nine foundation blocks, you will have a clear picture of your career plan, and you may have identified more than one trouble spot.

As you add more and more items to each of the categories, you will see they are closely connected. Your super goals and fighting for your goals go hand in hand. Your attitude towards work and having fun share many common points. Your attitude towards your work and creating a work-life balance crossover, as do having fun and creating work-life balance.

Fitting in and standing out from the crowd might sound like opposites, but they are complementary. Fitting in relates to your likeability, loving what you do, and your goals. Standing out also relates to loving what you do, your goals, and your drive. You fit in when you join with your co-workers and contribute to the workplace’s successes. You stand out when your individual contribution to the success is visible and acknowledged. Both fitting in and standing out relate to loving what you do, and your drive to succeed in your goals.

You make progress in the career plan by taking all the action steps, and putting them on a timeline. Some steps may be long-term: you plan to upgrade your skills but the courses will take at least two years to complete. Some actions may be short-term: you recognize that your manager needs help due to a personal situation, and you resolve to offer your assistance. You know there is a certain piece of work you can do effectively, and you decide to talk to your manager about it this week.

Other action steps regarding your work-life balance (get together with friends once a month), fitting in (you join the office health & safety committee), your super goals (you invite two friends to a new networking group — the three of you have discussed ideas for a small business), your drive (you determine you need to change your daily routine. You decide to arrive at work one-half hour early, but you know it will be tough.

You look at how to set new habits, and who can be counted on to help you). You believe the work-life balance, you realize that’s not quite true, at least, not at the stage you are in your life right now. You are okay with the extra work. Right now, you want to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. This is you drive talking!

You need to be true to yourself. The only wrong answer to any of the nine foundation block “questions” is trying to be someone you are not. If you are extremely ambitious, admit, if you are not so ambitious, you need a career plan that reflects your values.

The nine foundations of a successful career are where you begin to put the building blocks for your career into place. You may choose to undertake this process on your own, with a partner, as a group activity. Often, we get useful and helpful feedback from strangers: they see us more clearly than people we have known for years.

By scheduling regular check-ups with yourself, you ensure you touch base with how you are doing. You can also revisit this process at any time. The time spent on career planning gives you an opportunity to get to know yourself better. It is an investment in yourself from which all aspects of your life will benefit.

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