How to Create an Action Plan

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An action plan implements career goals.
An action plan implements career goals. (Image: AlexRaths/iStock/Getty Images)

Strategy is what you employ to reach the goal you have set for your career, whether you are seeking employment, job advancement or further education. An action plan becomes the series of steps you take to achieve your goal and implements your overall career strategy. It can help you stick to a time line, communicate your goal to others and account for finances.

Establish Goals

Before you can create your action plan you first need to establish a clear goal. This can be to achieve a supervisory position at your current job or to transition to a different career altogether. Be clear in setting your goal and have a vision for your outcome. Complete a realistic time line according to how long it will take to achieve your goal. For example, if you know that your employer is expanding and you want a future supervisory role, find out what you need to do by when. If you are changing careers, find out how long any required certification or schooling will take.

Identify Action Steps

Once your dates are set on a time line, work in reverse to identify the steps you’ll need to take to get there. For example, if you are returning to school, find out when applications are due, what your course load will require and how to work with your current employer while you are in school. You might have to consider action steps within your personal life, too. Find out if the promotion you are seeking requires more travel, or if you will need to make arrangements to attend weekend classes. Cover your steps from now until you achieve your goal, and mark those steps on the time line of your action plan.

Involve Others

Communication is vital to a successful action plan. If it is for your current place of employment, work with your supervisor and HR department to identify skills or experience that you can gain on the job. Share your action plan with them and ask for quarterly progress reports. Having an action plan at work shows initiative and gives you the advantage of involving others in your success. If your goal is education, then involve your school, and be pro-active with your advisor, teachers and peers. Involve people in your plan, and build your career network as you grow and transition.

Plan Financially

The final component of an action plan is to determine the costs and financial rewards. Part of your goal might be to increase your income or transition from an hourly wage to salary. You might take a job that pays less initially in order to gain a long-term promotion. Education expenses might be reimbursed if it advances you at your current job, or you might have to seek resources elsewhere. If you are transitioning into a skilled trade, consider any tools you might be required to purchase. Consider future moving expenses if your career goal includes relocating. Along with each step, figure out the costs.

Monitor the Plan

Your action plan is a working document that you can adjust as needed. Review it regularly and check off each date or step as you progress; celebrate your achievements. This can help you stay focused and positive if your goal is long-term. Check in with others that you have involved, and monitor your finances throughout the duration. Keep the plan flexible, but stick to the plan.

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