Career Planning 101

Career Planning 101 Actual Drawing by Stacey Lane Career Coach

I recently spoke to a small group of professional women and the topic was Career Planning 101. I thought you might be interested in this topic too. So here are a few thoughts.

The single, most important question you can answer, if you’re interested in career planning, is, drum roll please… Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I mean, really, truly – What do you want to be doing in 10 years?

Now don’t answer this question like you might during a job interview — dig deeper. Be candid. Be honest. Be courageous. But most of all, be honest with yourself. There is no right answer to this question, just the one that is right for you.

Now how about writing it down? Go ahead and get some paper or open up a new file on your computer. I’ll wait for you. Good. Now let’s move on to another key point of career planning.

No one is going to manage your career for you. Not even that boss that you adore who has promised you her position when she retires. Nor your newly acquired PMP you worked so hard to achieve — kudos to you, but that certification isn’t going to manage your career either.

Nor is your new employer who assures you “we have a track record of promoting from within.”

The most dangerous position you can get into, is handing over the reins of your career to someone or something else.

While their intentions are honorable (let’s hope!) there are no guarantees. Make career choices/decisions based on the information you have at this moment, not on what is supposed to happen in the future.

There is no such thing as job security (unless you’re self-employed) and sometimes you have to move out to move up. I combine these two because they’re really two sides of the same coin. People stay at jobs way too long — past their freshness date and well into full-blown staleness.

And the strange thing is that the longer you stay at a job or with a particular organization, the harder it is to leave. Perhaps job-change muscle atrophy sets in? It’s hard to admit sometimes, but the smartest career move for a few reluctant birds may be to leave the comfortable nest and stretch their wings a bit. Sometimes you have to move on to move up. No guarantees, but it sure beats allowing yourself to get stale.