Make Career Planning Deliberate

by Carol Bogale

Most professionals (experienced and upcoming) usually limit career planning and development to their current roles. This usually means career planning is left to the performance management processes of the employer. Subjecting this critical part of our lives to decisions outside our own control in not only limiting but hindering our own progress.

Therefore, it is imperative to incorporate deliberate career planning into our personal development regime. This is an ongoing reiterating process which requires constant evaluation, regardless of one’s current position. Similar to the concept of evolution, no one state is constant unless bound by the perception one holds. The question then becomes, how does one determine the right career path and grow continuously? Well, below are a five (5) key points on how to get started and evolve into the professional you intend to be:

  1. Understand thy self – This is often the most challenging part of the process. Self-introspection is fundamental because not only does it bring to light our strengths and weaknesses, but it also helps us determine what our key driver is. For instance, one could be largely driven by the need to make more money or to simply give back to the community. It could be both or an evolution to the next stage.
  2. What are your options – As part of this step, take time do research on careers that resonate with you the most, potential growth avenues within the profession as well as remuneration. Seek clarity on the hypothesis created from research by speaking to those within the profession. Then decide which path to take.
  3. Set clear objectives – Like any strategy, long or short term, goals setting is necessary. As part of the goal setting process it is important to determine the ultimate goal one intends to reach while mapping out key steps to reach said goal. Determine your starting point as well the requirements and the subsequent steps that follow. Assigning timelines allows for progress tracking else the plan becomes a dream – far-fetched and unrealistic. Specificity is also important as all the necessary elements are considered.
  4. Continuously improve – keep acquiring new skills and building competencies that will compliment ones defined objectives. Getting the job and staying in the job is the easy part. Progression requires constant evaluation of one’s position and deliberately seeking ways to be and do better – innovating. Sometimes it may even mean revisiting the drawing board and redefining the career path that was initially mapped.
  5. Find a mentor – Walking down your chosen part may seem easy in the beginning but getting a wise and trusted advisor helps as one progresses. An ideal mentor should be willing to invest their time and support in your professional development and have a strong desire to help you succeed. On the other hand, as a mentee become an active listener and learner. Be open and respectful of the advice and feedback given as well as the hard (but necessary) conversations.

Career planning is a journey. A step that may be infuriating but remains critical as it build resilience and perseverance. The only limitations that exist are those created and birthed from one’s mind. Be deliberate in your planning future (or better) leader!

February 5, 2020