Approach career planning as an ongoing commitment, not something you're forced to do when a job turns sour. Quintessential Careers founder Dr. Randall S. Hansen recommends taking one day or weekend every year to evaluate your career. Create a two-column list of likes and dislikes about your current job. If the latter column outweighs the former, consider some new directions. For example, the French artist Paul Gauguin was a businessman who painted in his spare time -- until an artist he admired encouraged him to follow his passion.
Accepting change is a crucial element of succeeding in today's work world, where multiple transitions are commonplace. Developing a short- and long-term blueprint for achieving your career goals and objectives is an equally non-negotiable part of staying on track professionally. Itemizing your current career path's pros and cons now will save plenty of frustration later, especially if your skills aren't in demand -- or if you don't feel passionate about them anymore.
Assess Your Situation Regularly
Be Adaptable and Realistic
Rewrite your plan when conditions require it. Even if you've taken a transitional job to pay bills, capitalize on the experience for planning purposes. Keep a journal or list of the skills and contacts you're developing now, and compare them to the jobs you want. For example, if you're a telemarketer, you've mastered the ability of communicating a persuasive message to all types of people -- which is a skill that many employers desire. However, the connection might not be obvious if you don't work it out on paper first.
Document Your Current Progress
Record notable activities on your present job. List the major projects that you've undertaken, plus significant professional development activities or training sessions you've attended. File away evaluations and letters or emails about your performance, too, then pull out these materials when you rewrite your short- or long-term career plan. You'll likely identify qualities that need further development or serve as inspiration for your next career change.
Identify Transferable Skills
Draft a separate five-year plan for how you'll develop transferable skills like interpersonal communication, innovation, leadership and stress management. Choose two skills to improve every year. For example, a media professional might pinpoint new blogging techniques and Web conferencing as two skills to learn for staying relevant in the marketplace. Taking this approach lessens the risk of your skills becoming obsolete, which makes career transitions harder to pull off.
Maintain a Long-Term Outlook
Consider how goals and objectives change over time. As of January 2014, the median tenure for staying with a current employer was 4.6 years, notes the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, other opportunities take longer to achieve in fields like health care, where there are about 100,000 executive leadership positions that typically require 10 to 15 years of related experience, according to the B.E. Smith consulting firm's website. You must address these factors in your goals and objectives.
- B.E. Smith: Career Planning: 10 Strategies to Prepare for Future Success
- MindTools: Future Proof Your Career
- Quintessential Careers: 10 Tips for Successful Career Planning: An Activity for Job-Seekers of All Ages
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Economic News Release: Employee Tenure Summary
- Working World: The Survival Job: How to Cope When You're Underemployed
- Forbes: A Step-by-Step Plan to Change Your Career to Something You Love
- Monster.com: What Your Long-Term Goals?
- The Muse: How to Reach Your Career Goals (and Enjoy Life, Too)
- U.S. News & World Report: Six Tips on Planning a Second Career
- Yale University: Individual Development Planning: Achieving Higher Performance: Guide to Getting Started
- Photo Credit ladyana89/iStock/Getty Images
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