Millennials are more than three times as likely to switch jobs than older generations, but with all the job hopping going on, it can be difficult to craft a long-term career strategy.
A solid career plan is important in that it can provide a roadmap for your future. This, in turn, helps you make informed choices about your current job situation as well as future career moves. A broader career plan is also important when it comes to helping you stay inspired.
Here are three reasons why you may want to create a career plan now.
1. You will leverage your strengths
People who tap into their strengths at work are six times more likely to be engaged. So, if you want to enjoy your career and collaborate more with your co-workers, it is key that you understand what your strengths are. Once you know this, you can leverage those strengths.
If you are now thinking that this flies in the face of the common advice that you should work on improving weaknesses, well, that is important as well. Yet, when it comes to enhancing your career, focusing on your weaknesses should not be your main strategy.
2. You will take steps in the right direction
No one is going to develop your career for you, and a successful career does not happen by chance. To succeed, you will need to know where you want to go. This way you can work on developing skills to help you achieve your milestones.
For example, if you are a customer service agent but want to become the CEO of the company, you need to know what steps it takes to get there. For example, it can start with becoming a supervisor then working your way up to a team manager. From there, you may want to develop additional skills so that you can jump from middle management to the executive team, and so on.
When you have a career plan in place, you will be more apt to take steps in the right direction. With this mindset, you will also be less likely to blame external forces when things do not pan out as you planned. Instead, you can take a step back, make a course correction and get back on track!
3. You will develop more confidence
If you do not know where you are going, you may end up lost or in the wrong place. In addition, if you do not have a clear goal in mind, it is harder to gain the self-confidence needed to take advantage of opportunities when they appear.
For example, if you want to become a team manager but you have no plan to achieve this goal, you may not be prepared to compete with others for the job. This, in turn, can be disheartening. Bottom line: you need a plan to both give you a direction and a sense of purpose in your daily work life. This makes it easier to be intentional about your work. For example, if your goal is to replace your manager when she gets a promotion, you may choose to ask her to mentor you. This then becomes part of your career plan.
Three tips for creating your best career plan
Now that you understand why it is a good idea to have a career plan, let us discuss how to go about putting it into place. Look at these three steps and you will be on your way.
1. Think big
Do not sell yourself short with your career plan. If you do not currently have the skills necessary to land your dream job, that should not stop you from aiming for this goal. Plus, by looking at your written-out plan, you may gain more motivation.
Also, do not restrict your career plan to your current job or path. If your dream job entails doing something that is not related to your current career at all, spell out the steps that it would take to make the switch.
2. Define your strengths and what you enjoy
Building wealth is a main motivator when it comes to career planning. With that said, money should not be your main objective. Why? Focusing on money alone can lead to an unhappy job experience and early burnout.
Instead, focus on what you enjoy doing and what you are good at. If you are having a hard time pinpointing your talents and what you love about your job, do not be afraid to ask family members, friends, or even a trusted co-worker. They may have some insight based on past conversations.
This exercise may shed some light on talents you were not aware you had. Better yet, you may discover that there aspects of your current job that you want to carry over to your next position – regardless of whether it leads to a windfall of money in the form of a higher salary.
3. Be adaptable
There is no guarantee that your career will turn out exactly as you planned. Another thing to note as you take steps toward your dream job, you may notice your preferences have changed over time. So, do not be afraid to adjust your career plan. Doing this does not mean that you are giving up on your dreams. It simply means that you are recalibrating.
When I first graduated from college, my goal was to start at the bottom of a large corporation and work my way to the top. But when I could not find a job for six months, I had to come up with a different plan. Instead, I got an entry-level job at a bank and started blogging about personal finance in my spare time. While I did not make much money from the blog itself, it launched me in a different direction. My writing career was born.
As you go through your own planning process, you can determine what to tweak and what to keep status quo. An added perk: if you remain adaptable, you may be surprised at the doors that open for you. Perhaps you will even find yourself in a brand-new career. When and if this happens, you may want to go back to your original career plan and add in new goals.
The bottom line
Career planning is important because it can help you leverage your strengths and build confidence. More importantly, it encourages you to take ownership of your career. The guidelines here are just that: guidelines. You can use these tips and tools to help you create the best navigation system for you. Are you ready to map out your career path and enjoy the journey?
By Ben Luthi