Whether you’re feeling lost, lacking any direction or are unhappy with your career path, the best way to put yourself on the right track is to create a career plan with clear-cut objectives and achievable goals.

A career plan is vital to career success and it’s never too early to start planning. Just like any other plan, a career plan includes many components, from short and long-term goals to steps you need to take to achieve them.

If you’re a college student, create a career plan to help you make easier decisions regarding what you need to study or specialise in and what extracurricular activities and internships you need to choose to propel you along your chosen career path.

Even if you’re already working, don’t resist changing your career if it feels right. With job-hopping becoming a serious trend in the workplace, creating a plan could help you prepare for the future and set you on the right path.

Start planning by understanding who you are and what you want

Being self-aware means having a deep understanding of who you are, what you want from life, and knowing what skills and strengths you have to achieve your goals. This awareness is crucial to building a meaningful career plan.

Here, reflection is key and without thinking about what you want from your career, it’s impossible to succeed in a meaningful and fulfilling way. It’s also important to think about your values, skills, and passions. Fully understanding yourself is the first step to creating a career plan that corresponds to your goals and lifestyle.

Set SMART goals

Uncovering personal insights in pursuit of self-awareness can give you a better understanding of what kind of career you want.

Once you have identified your career options, it’s time to figure out how you can get there. Setting goals, both short-term and long-term, is the next step in developing the action plan to help you get started.

In this process, set SMART goals – those that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound – to get closer to success. In detail, SMART goals should be:

Specific: Well-defined, clear, and unambiguous.
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Measurable: Include specific criteria to determine and measure the progress and accomplishment of your goals.

Achievable: Goals that have more than a 50% chance of success.

Relevant: Relatistic and relevant to who you are and what you want to do.

Timebound: Goals with a clearly-defined timeline, including realistic deadlines.

Studies suggest that in order for these goals to be successful, you must write them down and share them with a friend. Writing down your goals cements them in your long-term memory and sharing them creates a sense of accountability.

Develop your action plan

After setting your goals, you are now tasked with diving deeper into developing a plan to help you get to where you want. This is where the insights you discovered about yourself such as interests, passions, and skills help you make effective career decisions.

Assess where you stand and make decisions to learn new skills and get more experience or make a choice between different career choices. Whatever you decide, it’s time to stick to your decisions and make progress down your path.

If you’re finding it difficult to make a decision, weigh the pros and cons of making each choice, assess how strongly the different paths align with your values and passions, and think hard about the consequences of each choice.

Kickstart your career plan today!

Whether you’re just starting a career or you’re considering changing career paths for the first or third time, developing an effective career plan is what will help you to get where you aspire to be.

Follow the three simple steps of becoming self-aware, set SMART goals, and develop an action plan to proceed towards your destiny. Unlock your potential and become the best version of yourself.