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Don's Blog: A Strategic Plan for Your Career

A Strategic Plan for Your Career

Most of us have been through the experience of developing or contributing to an organizational strategic plan. But how many of us have strategic plans for our careers? Exactly!


The first question might be, “why not?” The list of answers to that question is too long, so let’s start at a different place. Why do you need a strategic plan for your career?


For starters, if you don’t do it, no one else will. Second, without a plan, who knows what kind of career you’ll look back on when you’re ready to retire. And finally, a quote:


“Don’t wait for your ship to come in; swim out to it.”


For most of us, the objectives of a career strategic plan are obvious:


  • Find meaningful work that we enjoy.
  • Study, prepare and learn all we can to be our best so we’re positioned to implement our plan.
  • Work with people we enjoy, admire and respect.
  • Maximize our earning potential.


There are other motives, goals and aspirations, of course, but that’s a good start.


Now the hard part: what ship are you swimming out to? In strategic planning terms, what is your vision and mission? What do you want to accomplish over the course of your career, and why?


On this matter, I have three suggestions:


1. Take the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment, and find out what your natural talents and gifts are. My top strength is strategic. I wish I had known this 25 years ago; I would have focused my career on what I’m doing now much earlier.


2. Ask yourself the question, what am I doing when I am at my best, feeling most fulfilled, productive and happy? Whatever that is, build your career around it. If you love to read, become a researcher. If you love to talk, get into sales. If you enjoy solving problems, become a consultant. If you love to serve others, work for (or start) a non-profit.


3. Take chances. Do your best to find organizations that you think are aligned with your strengths, expertise, passions and interests, and convince them to hire you. Don’t wait for a job opening, a recruiter to call or a posting on a job site. Pick the top three organizations, and get hired by one of them. Take control of putting your strategic plan into action.


There are additional elements of a good career strategic plan, so stay tuned for another post on those soon.


For now, get started, get clear on your vision, and answer the three questions above. Go get ’em.