What’s your career vision and plan?
A high proportion of people fall into their career by accident. A few, by chance or luck, enjoy their work, but many don’t, which is a shame as it represents such a large proportion of our time and it has a significant knock-on effect on other areas of our lives.
Having a career vision and plan is like being on a boat where you can use a motor, oars, paddle or the sails, with a compass to steer you towards the horizon to the destination of your choosing, whatever the weather. It makes sense to think about your career vision and have a plan A, B and C and to make time to think about your career choices.
“Your aspirations are your possibilities.“ Anon
Why don’t people have a career vision/plan?
So why do so many people fall into a job?
- Their parents were ‘hands off’ about their career
- They received no/inadequate careers advice at school or college
- They are too busy/don’t make time to reflect
- They are unsure of how to go about it
- They live ‘in the moment’/naturally think short term
- They find it easier or comforting to focus on the immediate priorities of life; eating, sleeping, shopping, doing their current job
- There are more and more distractions that get in the way e.g. social media
- They have never thought about how they can influence their future
“If you don’t know where you are going, you might not get there.” Yogi Berra.
Why create a career vision and plan?
“Purpose serves as a principle around which to organise our lives.” Anon.
Why is creating a vision and plan a good idea for your career?
- Increases the chance of career fulfilment
- Making conscious decisions rather than falling into jobs or leaving your career to chance is wise
- What you focus on is what you get
- Having a career plan helps you to narrow down information and networking options in a world of growing information overload/overwhelm
- Trends show that in future, people will need a higher level of skill and qualification so it helps you plan the time and money to achieve this
- Competition is increasing with well qualified cheaper hungry to learn talent from ‘people rich’ countries e.g. India, Brazil, China
- Technology is replacing more and more jobs
- Layers of management have been stripped out making getting a job for middle and senior management more competitive; differentiation and self-marketing are essential
- It provides the horizon towards which you are always moving, whatever life/work throws at you
- Helps you say ‘no’ to things so you avoid wasting time/energy
- Stops you going down the wrong path and having regrets
- Means you are less likely to make a mistake
- Gives you a sense of control and purpose in uncertain and unpredictable times
- Prevents other people/external events determining what happens
- Helps you evolve your career and be proactive rather than reactive
- Ensures a good fit between you and your work
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain.
How do you go about creating a career vision and plan?
It is a mixture of internal and external exploration and thinking and includes:
- Having a clear S.M.A.R.T. goal
- Creating a timing plan
- Breaking down long-term outcomes into small shorter steps
- Having self-awareness; your needs, wants, values, motivations, skills, qualities, etc.
- Diarising time to review and update it
- Reviewing published data on skill shortages and job/career trends
- Researching employer needs e.g. changing competencies
- Looking at market, economic and industry changes and trends
- Creating an image board – a pictorial representation of what you want from your career
“Goals that are not written down are just wishes.” Anon.
Opportunity cost of not having a career vision and plan
What are the implications of not creating a vision and plan for your career?
- You dislike your job
- You feel frustrated
- You get left behind with your peers succeeding
- You leave yourself vulnerable in the world of work
- You don’t feel resilient
- You experience frustration and anger from being unfulfilled which has a negative impact on your relationships and health
- You feel anxious and disempowered
- Your talent is unliberated
- Your career options and choices are restricted
- You are on the back foot (reactive), rather than the front foot (proactive)
- You don’t realise the potential you are capable of
- You provide a poor role model for your children that you can have meaningful and fulfilling work that plays to your strengths not just ‘a job.'
“Control your destiny or someone else will.” Jack Welsh.
12 tips and useful resources
Here are some useful resources and tips to help you make it happen:
- Get a career coach
- Read autobiographies of people whose career inspires you, blogs and self-help career books
- Look at Cedefop for future skill trends
- Ask yourself self-reflective questions (self-coaching) to help you get clear e.g. What would make me feel I had achieved career success?
- Become aware of long term work trends and how they impact on you e.g. read ‘The Shift – the future of work is already here’ by Lynda Gratton
- Know why and how to market yourself e.g. read Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn) ‘The start-up of you.‘
- Block out time in your diary to focus on creating your career vision and plan
- Diarise quarterly career reviews
- Set up a savings account to invest in your personal and professional development
- Commit to taking responsibility for your own career
- Imagine being at the end of your life and look back – what do you want from your career?
- Write your CV for 5 years’ time