You should always think one step ahead. Or perhaps two steps. At least that’s what the schools and the public leaders tell us… The truth is that the world is changing quickly, and in fact we do not know what tomorrow will bring. Or the next hour. Will we be alive? Will we be healthy? Will we still work? Many questions remain unanswered, and many plans will eventually not come true.


Have at least some plans

Nevertheless, it is good to have at least some plans. Unless we know where we want to go, we will struggle to make the decisions of a moment, and also the important decisions, those that relate to our education, and our professional career.

If you already have a vision of the things you want to do or what you want to become, it will be easier for you to decide. You will have a clear desire whether to finish an HR program online and pursue a career in human resources, or venture out in the field of software development, or other field of business.

In this article we will have a look at the basics of career planning, and suggest how you can prepare your career plan. Such a simple plan should serve as your guide anytime when you’ll struggle to decide about your next move. Let’s go!


Understand where you are right now

Before you can start planning your future, you should understand (rationally, without emotions) your present situation. Ask yourself the following questions to understand where you are standing right now:

  • What is my present occupation, and role in a society?
  • What is the main purpose of my job, from my personal point of view, and from the perspective of our society (local community)?
  • Am I happy in my work, do I enjoy it?
  • What are my principal strengths and weaknesses?
  • Am I satisfied with my job? If not, what prevents me from being satisfied with it? Is it the job, or is it something within me, my own block?
  • Does my salary meet my expectations? Do I earn enough money to cover my living costs, and to enjoy life?
  • Is my education up to date, or am I missing something?
  • Have I made any progress in my career during the last five years? Do I earn more than before? Do I do a better job than before?
  • Comparing myself today, and myself three years ago, do I see any progress?

A man in a nice business outfit works on a career plan

Define where you want to be

Take several sheets of paper and write on the top of each of them: 3 years from now, 6 years from now, 9 years from now…, until the date you plan to retire.

Then try to answer the following questions, and write the answer on each sheet of paper:

  • What position do I want to have at the time?
  • How much money do I want to earn?
  • Where do I want to be in my personal life (starting a family, marrying, etc)?
  • What value do I want to bring to the society with my work? 

Special Tip: Download a list of 13 questions you should ponder when deciding about your career, in a simple one page long .PDF, print it and use it as a reference when deciding about your next career step:

13 questions to ask yourself when planning your career, PDF

What do you need to improve to get to your destination?

Try to write on each sheet of paper the following things:

  • The personal qualities you need to improve to get the job you want to have in 3 (6,9,12) years from now.
  • The experience you need to gain, courses and seminars you should attend, certifications you need to get.
  • When exactly you should start looking for a new job, and how you plan to do it (internally, on a job board, starting your own business, etc). The options are plenty, and you should have your preferences.


Don’t forget to take action

You should have several sheets of paper by now. One speaking about your present situation, and the other papers describing the desired scenario for your future. This is the simple career plan, one you can start following from now on.

Remember though, that all plans are worthless without action.

Unless you follow the plans on your sheets, unless you try to gain experience and improve your knowledge, and progress according to your career plan, you will not reach your destinations. Planning is one thing and following a plan another one.


Plans do change

Life is unpredictable. We can die tomorrow, we can move to another country, we can meet the love of our life and change our career completely, just to be with the person. Revisit your plans each year, and change them if you need, or if you feel like changing them. What we want in our twenties are not the same things we want in our thirties. Logically plans change together with us, and with our desires.

Therefore we have to revisit them, change them, but most importantly–we have to follow them, at least in a given period….

Ready to make the right career move? Continue your preparation with Interview Penguin and make the best possible decisions:

  • What job is right for me? Starting your professional career? Deciding about your studies? Or feeling unhappy in your present occupation? The article should help you to find your true calling in life.
  • New career ideas for everyone – Wanting to start afresh? Check the list of careers you can start anytime, regardless of your education or previous experience.
Matthew Chulaw
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