Whether you are starting your career or are in the middle of it, you should always have a long-term plan on where you want it to go. I believe that this should also be the case in your personal life as well. This will help you make the right decisions to reach your dreams and the goals that will help you get there.
Since I was 21, I’ve always had a five-year career plan. I knew that I wanted to be a Technical Writer, so I created a plan on how I would get there and continue to grow into a better one. One thing I have learned is that you should always have in the back of your head that not everything will go according to what you have thought out. You could wake up, and think to yourself, “Wait! I’m really passionate about interior design!” This means that some parts of your plan will change, and there is nothing wrong with that. We are constantly changing, and our hopes, dreams, and thoughts do not remain the same. This can influence where you see yourself. I fell into business analysis, and I loved it. I could continue writing, research, and work with others. It didn’t mean my entire vision for my career changed. I just tailored it.
If you want to totally change careers, then this might be different for you. However, it’s better to have a plan than to not have one at all.
Create a Vision Statement
A vision statement is what you want the end result. You might come up with your vision after meditating, exercising, sleeping, etc. However you come up with it, you will want to write it down. It will also help if you place it where you will see it every day. This will help keep your mind on reaching your dream job.
Questions you might think about before writing yours down are things like:
- What will make me happy to come into work every day?
- What are the things that I am passionate about?
- What will I make money doing that I will not think of it as work?
After coming up with those answers, you will write down:
I will be a leading expert in the technical writing and business analysis areas. I will write books that will help others in those fields, and I will help design solutions that will help businesses with their problems.
When you have written and perfected your vision statement, then you will want to share it with someone who will be supportive. This can be a family member, a friend, or a respected peer. You can help one another reach your dreams.
Develop a Roadmap
There are roadmaps for many things — products, projects, companies, etc. Why not create one for yourself? At the top, you will want to have the five years. You will then have the different areas that you want to work on that you believe are the foundation for your dream career. For instance, you might have education, technical writing, business analysis, and industry best practice methodologies. Whatever works for what you envision. You might say that in year 1, you will learn the Agile methodology. In year 2, you want to get a certification. In year 3, you want to lead your own team in an Agile environment. You get the idea. Make sure that it lines up with your vision statement.
Write Down Long-Term and Short-Term Goals
From the vision statement and roadmap, you will want to create your long-term and short-term goals. It depends on you, but I will consider what you wrote in your roadmap as your long-term goals. These will be the yearly goals that you will perform in order to create your dream career. You will want to break those down into short-term ones that can be checked off in a month. If you haven’t heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals, then you need to get acquainted quick. You want to make sure that your goals are
For example, instead of writing your goal as
Get the CBAP certification
You would want to rewrite it as:
Pass the CBAP certification exam on June 2014
You would then want to break that down into short-term goals like
- Be prepared for the CBAP certification in six months
- Study for 2.5 hours a day for the CBAP certification
- Complete the CBAP application with references by December 2013
It’s always easier to reach your goals if they are broken down into small chunks.
Don’t Give Up
Things will never go according to plan, but don’t ever give up. If you want to find a career that you are happy doing, then it takes work. Continue molding your dreams and goals, and pretty soon you will have your dream job.