You have probably made a few career plans. Perhaps you have scribbled down a few things you would want to achieve in your career over the next few years. The challenge is that you forgot about them as quickly as you wrote them down. Inaction can be a default setting when it comes to planning. Sometimes, all we is need an action plan that will tell us what to do, how to do it and when to do it.
I don’t know about you but I really like simplicity and taking small steps towards my goals. So today, we are going to make a simple career action plan which is a document that clearly spells out the steps you can take in your career so that you are always getting ahead in your career. By the end of this article, my hope is that you will have a document preferably digital that you can edit so that you are always taking action in your career.
First, you need a vision and mission statement for your career by asking yourself: what legacy do I want to leave? What will I regret not doing when I am 90 years old? Brainstorm and write down things you would like to do. When you have an idea of what your ideal career would look like, you can get started on your career action plan by asking yourself the following questions:
What can I do to grow the skills I need in my career?
Brainstorm and write down all your ideas for reaching your career plan (personal development, formal training, networking, coaching, mentoring, etc) Next, do some research. Look up all the people who are doing things that you want to do. Why are you drawn to them? How did their careers progress? Was it slow and steady or did they make some very big career defining moves? Apply whatever you find out to your own career plan. What kind of training did they have? What challenges did they have to overcome? Pull out ideas, strategies, and inspiration from their career stories.
Expand your inspiration by picking people from industries that you have interest in but not exactly in your industry. This is because your career action plan should not only be limited to your industry and you can always borrow ideas from how people in other industries progressed in their careers. You will get some ideas that you can put to use. For example it is becoming paramount for every one to have some marketing skills. I could look up some marketing and PR executives to see how they do their thing and see how I could apply that to my field.
What can I do to build stronger relationships?
Relationships are the most important asset in your career. Brainstorm how you can build and establish strong relationships with people who have a stake in your career. This could be your boss, your clients, your colleagues, or anyone that you interact with on a daily basis as you go about your daily tasks.
How would you want to feel when you are dealing with other people? These speak to how you want to be treated. Some ideas would include: good listening, empathy, courtesy,helpful, etc. Write down whatever you come up with. For each of the points you write down, think: How am I doing in all these? How can I improve?
Next, do some research. Look at the most successful people in your industry. See how they developed relationships and how important these were in growing their careers. See how you can apply anything you learn to your own career.
What can I do to build my personal brand?
Brainstorm ideas of how you can improve your personal brand both online and offline. Next, do some research. Look up all the business owners and brands in your industry and see what methods they use to grow their (personal) brands? Look up their social media. If you find that a particular professional of business owner is doing their social media very well (Instagram, youtube, facebook, email, etc), try to go back to the beginning of their account to see how they built from zero.
Pull out concepts, ideas for quality and inspiration for your own brand. The goal is not to copy them. Also look at how other brands in different industries do their thing and learn from them.
What improvements can I make to the quality of my work?
Your style of working does not matter. However, you have to do work that adds value to your boss or to your clients. Do not slack on your work. It is what defines your brand. Perhaps you need to promote yourself a little more in your company or you need to keep your boss aware of all that you are doing on a weekly basis. Brainstorm ways that you can improve the quality of your work.
What can I do when my career is slow?
As you establish a solid career, you will notice that some seasons will leave you feeling accomplished. Sometimes, you will feel that things are be going as fast as you would like them to go. Building a career is a marathon not a sprint. During this time, you can still do things to grow your career and keep a positive outlook even when things are not that great. What are some of the things you can do?
Use the articles below (as well as any other resources you can find) to write down several things you can do. This portion of your career plan will be very instrumental and you will return to it several times to see how to take advantage of slow periods in your career. They will surely come.
What can I do when I do not know what to do?
These are things you can do to ensure you are still on track to achieve the grand plan you have for your career. There will be times when you want to quit your job but you know it wont be in your best interest so you have to wait it out. During these times, it is important to know what you need to do even when it feels like there is nothing to do. Your career action plan will not be complete without this.
Brainstorm ideas of what to do when you are feeling stuck. This could include reading inspiring stories of people you admire, getting coaching or talking to a mentor. Compile tasks which are simple to understand and easy to accomplish so that when you are feeling stuck, you always have fresh ideas to keep you going.
Your Career Action Plan Document
Take your notes from these questions and compile them into a digital document. Rewrite things as actionable steps and tips. Start your sentences with verbs. For example:
Write a strong bio for my social media pages…
Do a presentation…
Email five people per week…
I recommend you record at least 10 items per question above. This way, every time you access your Career Action Plan you’ll have actionable items that you can always take to move a step forward in your career.