18 Jul What Progress are You Making on Your Career Plan?
Original Spanish version published in America Economia (Latin America) on July 18, 2015
It’s about thinking of where we want to be next year, and over the next 15, 20 or 30 years of our life and professional career.
The first half of 2015 has ended and it’s time to ask ourselves: What progress are we making on our career plan? Are we fulfilling the indicators we set out for ourselves for the first half of the year? How are we doing?
Often, when I ask people about their career plan, most of them look at me confused. And I explain that it is a quite simple and very important thing to do for our professional life. It’s a plan about where we would want to be next year, and over the next 5, 15, 20 or 30 years of our life and professional career.
Making the plan starts by sitting down to think: What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? What would I like to achieve? What do I have to do to get there? What is the price I have to pay to get there? What do I have to do or continue to do? What do I have to stop doing? What do I have to start doing? What should I avoid? In sum, it’s about reflecting on everything that puts you in the right place and shape to achieve your life and career objectives.
I know we often do not establish career goals and hope it will be the companies themselves that somehow promote us or recognize our merits based on our accomplishments. There are, in fact, some that do so, but they are few. We ourselves must care for and take control of our career, our employability and our profile.
Not making a career plan is like starting to build a house without drawing up plans first. It is like going to the lot with a shovel and wheelbarrow, pick and hoe, and saying, this is where I am going to try to put the kitchen, the living room over there, the dining room here, without even putting down on paper what we want to do, what we want the house to be like, what size, how much it will cost, what part we will build now and what stage we will leave for later. It is exactly the same for our career. What I see is that most people do not develop a career (or personal) life plan. They simply live without planning too much, without expecting too much from life, without expecting too much from their careers. This prevents them from advancing, and they become stagnant, often indefinitely.
Whenever I have the chance to find myself with successful and brilliant people, I ask them, what are your strategies or secrets, or how did you get where you are? They invariably refer to their personal ambitions, what they expect from themselves and life and how they see themselves in the future. This leads to a life and career plan that they put in writing and revise two or three times a year. They are always flexible plans that they adjust over time, because things often do not turn out as one hopes or expects, but they do provide a guide or destination that allows them to know where they want to go, what they have to do and how they must prepare to do it.
If you do not yet have one, I seriously recommend writing your life/career plan. It is not that hard to do and takes maybe a couple of hours to think and write down, and then reflect on it two or three times a year. Having it is often the fundamental competitive edge for our professional career and certainly greatly improves our opportunities of being successful. The challenge, once it is ready, is to apply it, act accordingly and believe in it.