We’re now up to the sixth in our twenty-part series on how to accelerate your career in your twenties. Last time we focused on the importance of thought leadership and how it can help you carve out an identity and stand out among your peers. This time we’re focusing on something that even career veterans still struggle with from time to time - planning.
Why you need a career plan
The ability to plan and set yourself targets is something you should get into the habit of doing as soon as you set foot in the workplace. It’s essential to success in any industry, and it will give you purpose, direction and meaning. When we talk about planning in the workplace, our minds often snap to timetabling and deadlines, with the ‘plans’ being set by your superiors. That kind of business planning is important, but what we’re talking about is personal planning.
Take a step back. Think about where you are in your career right now. Next, think about where you’d like to be in 5 years. Do you want to be in the same role doing the same thing? Do you want a promotion? Do you want to work for a different company altogether? Different people have different desires - some are incredibly ambitious and others are quite happy to get comfortable and reap rewards in other ways - wherever you fall on the spectrum, it’s important to plan. You need to think about the steps you need to take in order to get where you want to be, then write those steps down and aim for them. You’ll find ticking these milestones off as you achieve them incredibly rewarding and it’ll spur you on to work even harder.
But what about day-to-day?
It’s good to have a broad strategy, but there a lots of smaller wins you can achieve if you set your mind to it. Did you learn to use a new piece of software on a particular project? Did one of your ideas from a recent meeting end up being implemented? These are all small but significant things that you can record and look back on when it comes to sharpening up your CV for a potential promotion or new role. The point is, these goals can be as small or as large as you like, but it’s important to have them so you know what you’re working towards. Small goals might consist of building working relationships with key people in the business, or affecting change by speaking your mind and sharing your opinions. These smaller goals can then feed into bigger goals, like switching departments or being promoted to a new team. If you plan and document everything significant, you’ll be able assess yourself more easily and highlight areas for improvement.