“In each of us rests the power to shape our future and it will be shaped by our action or inaction”. This great quote symbolizes the importance of taking your life into your own hands. Once we reach adulthood, we realize that we will spend the longest part of our lives in deciding our careers. People spend the majority of their lives with their jobs and the people they meet there. Thus, the importance of career planning originates with this identification itself. Yet, from a more theoretical perspective, career planning is a discipline in itself. There are people that specialize in providing information about different career planning tops. They shed light on the importance of career planning in our lives. Career planning actually stems and relies on more complex theories like strategic planning and logical thinking. The idea is to enable the person to weigh the pros and cons of a decision before enacting it. This helps people take charge of their lives, both in a professional and a private sense.
The world is chaotic. While there are some who have a clear pathway they want to take in their professional lives, with new opportunities rising up almost every day, it is tough for many to decide their goals in life. Thus, for these people especially, understanding the importance of career planning in extremely necessary.
The idea of career planning is to make yourself better quipped to analyze your own future. Upon understanding your strengths and weaknesses, you are in a better position to be aware of your individual skills. Thus, you are eligible to create a more constructive plan where you decide where you want to spend your time in, where you want to improve and where the opportunities seem bleak.
If you are trying to learn how to better structure your career aspirations, it is always good to better structured how you are trying to achieve that goal itself. Thus, below, I’ve tried to provide a step by step strategy that tries to encompass what are the different ways in which you can better control and manage your life, and thereby better manage your goals and aspirations in your career.
Of course, the first step, before you even decide on moving forward is to do a thorough analysis of yourself. Generally, we think we know ourselves pretty well. However, when we try to list down our achievements, our strengths and weaknesses, or simply when someone asks us to explain a little about ourselves, we are dumbfounded.
Therefore, the primary task in career planning is self-analyzing. Here, you are expected to list down several aspects about yourself. To make it easier, you can follow this checklist:
The importance of self-assessment in career planning is that it helps you ground yourself in reality. Often when we try to set out on our career paths, we have fantastical notions of what we want to do and where we want to be. But, a complete self-analysis may provide you with a sense of the reality of your goals and dreams and moreover, may even show you opportunities that you never thought existed in your life. Thus, self-assessments help you not just in understanding yourself, but also understanding your capabilities and in turn help you in making an informed career choice.
Also, an important point to note here is that no option is the only option. When conducting your self-assessment, we recommend that you view yourself holistically and present yourself with more than one career option, preferably in a ranked manner. This greatly helps you in not just having a backup plan but also reading you for a little setback that might fall your way.
After analyzing and assessing yourself, the next step is obviously working on your weaknesses. The SWOT analysis or the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats model is a way for you to categorize your strong points in your personality while also listing out places where a little development is needed and expected.
Thus, the next step in your path to career planning rests on you working on your shortcomings and turning your weaknesses into motivations for you to improve your overall development. This is a critical and important step in career planning and development as it readies you to face your biggest challenges.
It is often the case that your dream goals and aspirations may be tied with specific skills that you do not hone currently. For example, if you want to enter the world of filmmaking, but see yourself lacking expertise in the workings of a camera or the knowledge of editing and post-production practices. Understanding your shortcomings urges you to improve on specific areas of improvement.
In a more general sense, sometimes the weaknesses of people are more personality related. Maybe you consider yourself, not a good public speaker, or you find yourself unable to work closely with large groups of people. For this, self-development on these specific grounds helps you overcome your weaknesses and present yourself a step closer to achieving your dream career or job.
The best way for self-development is to learn from others. Workshops, seminars, or mentorship are all tools that a majority of people use in ways to better themselves. And these tools are abundant. There are countless workshops organized by some of the brightest minds of their fields, which impact valuable information and knowledge on how to better your skills in their particular fields.
After understanding and working on your weaknesses, the next step in career planning is of setting goals. If you have dutifully completed the above-mentioned steps, then this particular step may seem like a breeze.
The way to set goals is to sort out your priorities for the career of your choosing and then working towards achieving those goals. It may seem easier said than done. But research has shown that when people write down their goals, they are more inclined to complete or work towards them with more dedication.
However, before you set your goals, you must first be aware of the opportunities that lie in your career choice and the areas of promotions. This requires research that you must do at a regular basis to better understand your career pathway. Here are a few questions that can help you with understanding the range of your career option:
Once you are ready with your goals set for you, the only thing left is for you to achieve them. However, this is where most people forget about the importance of career planning and a step-by-step approach. Most people set their goals and immediately hop on to action. However, the point I’m trying to make through these steps is that jumping straight into action may sometimes derail you from your intended outcome. Thus, it is imperative, that just like a general who devises a plan of action before leading a mission, you must do devise an action plan for your mission to achieve your dream career.
Of course, you will not reach your dream job overnight. You have to climb through the ranks to achieve that spot. However, a plan where you dictate to yourself how long you will stay at a particular post, the intervals of your promotion, and the strategies you will employ to excel in your field are all part of the plan of action you create.
And always remember, nothing is set in stone. The world is highly volatile and one small change may result in a thunderstorm in your life. Thus, you should do a constant review of your plan of action so that you are constantly updating it in accordance with the events that have happened in your life, or some that you anticipate in the near future. Maybe you might be receiving a promotion earlier than expected, or maybe you might be let go because of budget cuts within the company. Thus, you must always stay up to date with yourself, your surroundings, and your action plan.
I do not have much to say about this particular step because it is self-explanatory. After going through a structured approach, the only thing left is to realize your dream. For everyone, the action part will be widely different. Some may start slow, while others may go guns blazing. The point here is that if you have followed the steps above in a structured manner, your action may be easier than you had first anticipated. Since you were in control of your advances, attacking in the last mile may seem rehearsed and practiced, making you ready to fully accomplish the goals you set for yourself.
While I have covered most of my points in the step-by-step approach of the process of career planning, I would want to impart just some information that I have gathered over the years that may help you in setting yourself some goals for your careers.
I understand that while on paper, the process of career planning may seem exceedingly simple. Trust me, it requires a lot of hard work and determination. Thus, a better way to manage your expectations of yourself is to better manage the goals you set for yourself. Thus, I’ve listed down three different types of goals that can help you take care of your ambitions:
Generally spread over a duration of one to two years, these goals are extremely specific and result in quick getaways. Short term goals are easier to develop. They also help you in keeping track of your daily activities compared to the burden of your entire career plan.
These goals are usually spread over the next 20 years of your life. At first, it seems like a long time while working to achieve your dream. But 20 years is actually a very small amount of time, and time that vanishes very quickly. Thus, setting yourself targets over the next 20 years helps you keep your dream in perspective.
These basically end when you achieve your dream. Spread for more than 20 years, these goals basically dictate where you want to end up finally. After having worked your entire life, where is it you see yourself? Long-term goals define this.
I hope after reading this piece you have understood the importance of career planning in your lives. It’s a way to better manage your dreams and aspirations and structure yourself for better odds of achieving them. There will be setbacks, but the will to complete the long term goals will keep pushing you to achieve greatness.