Career Planning 101: Building a Foundation for Long-Term Success
Check out these tips to make your long-term goals happen.
Starting your career can be intimidating! How do you figure out what your career focus should be in the long term? Here are some tips to help you make your long-term goals happen!
Discover your goals
Where do you want to be in 5, 10, or 15 years? This question isn’t fun for everyone, but it’s critical to understanding what you want to achieve in the next few years. Spend some time writing down where you want to be in each of those three periods of time. You don’t need to limit yourself to career goals, either! Life and career goals tend to impact each other, so planning for both in advance is a good idea.
Once you know your goals, you can break them down into achievable steps and start working towards them! For example, your 10-year plan might be to advance to a senior position. You can’t exactly apply to those roles in your first year on the job! However, you can start taking steps to become the ideal candidate for the job.
For this example, some steps might be:
- Getting to know your co-workers and upper management
- Proving your work ethic to your manager
- Taking on new responsibilities
- Being highly reliable and consistently meeting your deadlines
- Bringing positive changes to the workplace
These steps are still pretty big, so you might opt to break them down even further like this:
- Chat with a friendly co-worker
- Do well on your next work project
- Ask your manager if there’s anything else you can help with
- Jot down ideas for possible positive workplace changes
Deconstructing your goals like this brings you one step closer to your long-term goals with small, manageable steps in the right direction.
Find a mentor
The advice of an experienced professional is priceless! They can help you avoid common mistakes and take the fastest route to success. They’ll notice strengths and weaknesses that you didn’t even know you had. A mentor will help you realize how you’ll fit into the role you want and the changes you need to make to be a good match.
Seek a mentor who will be upfront about your skills and next steps. It’ll help you progress so much faster! Your mentor doesn’t have to be significantly older than you. It can be someone who knows the company better or can give you a fresh perspective. Either way, finding a mentor who understands your workplace will go a long way!
Figure out what you’re missing
Once you’ve spent a few months working on your goals, it’s time to evaluate your progress. You can also use feedback from your mentor to help you at this step! Re-evaluate your goals and how much progress you’ve made towards them. Keep in mind that most people set lofty goals that will be hard to achieve in the time frame they expect. If you didn’t meet your goals yet, don’t be disheartened! It’s a good time to edit them to make them more achievable. Based on your progress, decide on a more reasonable deadline.
Are some of your goals coming along nicely while others are stagnating? If that’s the case, you might only need to adjust the goals that you’re struggling with. Maybe they need to be broken down into smaller steps, or you can ask your mentor for help taking that first step.
The skills you’re missing might not even be goals you’ve set. They could be other essential qualifications that went under your radar. For example, you might have missed a specific technical certification to obtain a senior role or a leadership experience you haven’t had yet. After you’ve started working towards your goals, you can clearly see what you need to work on!
Pencil it in
The easiest way to ensure you meet your goals is to put achievable steps down on paper. So, put your goals on your calendar! Add frequent reminders to keep the plan fresh in your head.
Ensure you have enough time to achieve each step to avoid falling behind and getting discouraged. You can use the past few months as an example of how much time you need.
Another great way to ensure you have enough time to complete a goal is to give yourself triple the time you think you’ll need. If you think you’ll need a month, give yourself three! It might sound lazy, but it’s the opposite. When you give yourself an achievable goal with tons of time, you’ll feel silly if you don’t finish it in time. That means you’re more likely to meet the goal because it’s so easy to do in the given time. Plus, you’ll have so much time to work towards it you can overcome any roadblocks and still finish on time.
Most people don’t account for all the small details involved in each step of their goals. You’re bound to underestimate how long it’ll take to do each step. When you give yourself triple the time, you can deal with all the unexpected details and finish on time! As you continually meet your deadlines this way, you’ll be more motivated and confident that you can achieve your final goal.
Don’t let the details get you down! You’ve got what it takes to bring your goal to life!
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