Not having a career management plan would achieve the same results of trying to start up a brand-new business without a well thought out business plan!
Not having a career management plan would achieve the same results of trying to start up a brand-new business without a well thought out business plan. The result will be that you will get what you get and that is generally failure.
Would you start off on a long trip across the country without a road map, GPS, or any other system that will give you the proper directions? I’m guessing not!
Eventually you will make it, right?
It will take you longer, cost you more money, frustrate...
Yes you will probably make it but I can almost guarantee that it will take you longer, cost you more money, frustrate you and anyone else with you, and create more wear and tear on you and your car than if you just planned out the trip properly in the first place.
Then why do we do this with our very own lives?
We start off early in our lives having a dream to become something. That dream can be almost anything when were young. Each year that goes by without putting an action plan together the more that very dream becomes harder and harder to accomplish.
The four years will pass quickly and I will not be prepared at all to make that trip actually happen...
To build on the example above to travel across the country let’s say that my dream is to travel from California to New York City four years from today. I don’t do anything other than continue to want to make that trip happen in four years. I don’t save any money. I don’t look at any maps. I don’t figure out how many days it should take. I don’t consider what time of year would make it easier to travel. I don’t consider how much hotels will cost. I think you get the point. The four years will pass quickly and I will not be prepared at all to make that trip actually happen.
A career management plan is no different!
If I am thirty years old and want to become a lawyer, an engineer, an accountant, what do I need to do to make that happen?
The first action is to understand where you are right now
It starts with the desire to become that.
That desire needs to grow legs and turn into action.
The first action is to understand where you are right now. That means you need to assess what your current level of education is.
The second action is to understand what it will take to become a lawyer, an accountant, or an engineer.
The third action is to count the cost of going from where you are to where you want to be. That will include the cost of money, time, resources, relationships, etc. Once you weigh those costs then and only then can you make an informed decision if your career management plan is realistic or a pipe dream.
If you are an engineer just beginning your career and have a desire...
Having a career management plan in place even if you have already completed your education is just as important especially if you are just starting out in your career.
If you are an engineer just beginning your career and have a desire to rise to a certain level the same principles apply as I mentioned above.
Where are you right now?
Where do you want to get to?
What are the costs to get there and are you willing to pay that cost?
Having a Career Management Plan is Critical to your Future!
There are a lot of very important things in your life but not many more important than having a solid Career Management Plan for your future! Just like a brand new business trying to get off the ground without a Business Plan, your Career is no different! I can give you example after example of other activities trying to do something without first laying out a specific plan. Whenever an airplane leaves the ground they must submit a flight plan! When a ship leaves the harbor it must leave a course that they will be following. Your Career is no different! You need to layout, a plan in order to know if you are staying on course or not!
A Career Management Plan starts with understanding where you are right now in your career. If you needed to get to somewhere and you had a map, you would first find out where you are located on that map. Then the map is useful in showing you a direction on how to get to the location you are wanting to be. Your Career is the same. How do you know if you will need more education if you don't already know what skills you possess today? So take some time and review all the educational and professional experience you have up to this point in your life. This also must be realistic. Don't claim a skill that you are not confident that you can perform. If it is a computer skill then you better know it, or it will have to go on the list of needing more training.
Oh no I brought up the word plan again…
Once you have laid out all your previous educational and professional experiences the next thing to list on your Career Management Plan would be your immediate or short-term goals. So, what is a immediate or short term goal? That would be a goal that you can achieve relatively quickly. Along with setting this or these goals it is critical that you lay out a plan to achieve them! Oh no I brought up the word plan again. But the fact is unless you are going to fly by the seat of your pants through your life you better get used to making a plan to achieve your goals. Don't tell me that you have one in your head, because if you are like most people it will be adjusted to find the least path of resistance. This mean in simple terms the easiest way, or lazy mans way!
So, as an example if one of your short-term goals is to learn how to operate a specific computer program like Microsoft Excel, then you may have as your plan to purchase the program and enroll in a class at a specific learning center. Remember this plan must be very specific. I would include dates that it will be accomplished by. It should include details like the cost of the program and/or the class. Every successful Career Management Plan will give a direct path to how it will be accomplished. The more detailed the plan the better chances of it being carried out. You may want to place this somewhere you will review it daily!
In other words, don't place on your short-term goal to be the Vice President of the Microsoft organization if you don't even work for them yet.
As part of your Career Management Plan you will also include intermediate and long term goals. These should also be realistic and achievable; however, they will become a little more flexible. You will still write out a plan to achieve them that makes sense, but it will be less in stone. As you are moving through your short-term goals you may be continually adjusting the intermediate and long-term goals so that they remain viable.
Of course, your ultimate goal of creating a Career Management Plan is to achieve your career goals. So the short, intermediate and long term goals should include your career minded goals as well. Again, they must be realistic and not general in nature. In other words don't place on your short term goal to be the Vice President of the Microsoft organization if you don't even work for them yet. Of course, I am exaggerating but I hope you understand my point!
I believe a very important phase of your Career Management Plan is to find a mentor. Generally the mentor that you select should be someone that is in the field you are hoping to pursue. Keep in mind that you can have more than one mentor. An example of this would be to have mentor for your professional career and one for specifically a leadership style that you like. A mentor can be a very valuable asset to you if they are brutally honest and challenge you to meet your goals. Almost like a physical trainer! You don't need someone that will just agree with everything you say or do!
As I stated in the beginning a Career Management Plan is a critical piece of your being successful. Yes you may get lucky without one, and many do! But many more are not and end up struggling in life wishing that they would have taken a different course along the way. Some wish they would have went to college, or taken up a different field of study. Some wish they wouldn't have followed the money so much that they ended up having money but hating their jobs.
As my last words I will leave you with just this old saying! Plan your Work and Work your Plan!
Good Luck and May God Bless You!