While those who wander are not all lost, these same wanderers will also take longer to climb up the career ladder.
Success rarely happens by accident or overnight. If you look into successful business people in Singapore, those who achieve their career goals almost always chart their ambitions with comprehensive career planning. And while it is always good to have short term career goals to keep you motivated and enthusiastic about what you do, those who gain substantial success understand the need for carefully considered career planning to achieve those goals that provide long-term satisfaction and let you love what you do.
The career planning process
Your 5-year career plan is your road map to success. It should identify the role you want and set out a clear strategy to get you there. Before you begin, ask yourself these questions:
- Where do I want to go?
Start with a goal. No, not just ‘I want a fatter salary and nicer office by 2020’, but rather ‘I want to be heading up my department within 18 months so I’m then part of the in-house talent pool that is in the running for an executive position.’ At this point, it’s worthwhile giving some thought to what you’re wishing for. A certain position may seem glamorous from a distance but that doesn’t mean it’s well suited to your skill-set and personality type. And even if it is, it may involve the kind of hours and stress you’ll find deeply unpleasant. Remember, the personal satisfaction of loving your job can be a worthwhile marker of success.
- How am I going to get there?
Break down your final goal into a lot of smaller ones and arrange them in a logical sequence. What training might you need to undertake? Could a mentor add value at some stage? What KPIs will you need to surpass in order to achieve a promotion? Taking all these into account, career planning will vastly improve your chances of success.
- How can I keep my plan on track?
Writing out your goals makes them real. The difference between daydreaming about career glory and actually achieving it can come down to something as simple as creating a document that details your career planning journey in black and white. In the first column of your career plan, list your short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. In the next column, write down the skills or traits you need to develop to achieve each goal. And in the third column, note the resources or support you’ll require to make that happen. Finally, use the fourth column to set a target completion date for each goal.
Career planning - How to stick with your goals
A 5 year career plan is only half the battle. You need to stay motivated in order to achieve your goals:
- Celebrate small victories
You’ll find you stay more motivated if you recognise and reward yourself for all the smaller milestone events along the way. It’s a great way to stay refreshed and rejuvenated at each point of your career planning timeline.
- Stay flexible
In busy Singapore, things move quickly and it may well be that the job that you love won’t even come into existence for a couple of years yet. What you want to do is to become an irreplaceable employee. Keep a close eye on how your industry is changing and adjust your career planning scheme appropriately. If you need updated information of your industry, submit your CV and gain professional help.
- Regularly re-assess your goals
The career planning you did today may not result in a career where you love what you do tomorrow, especially given the impact of life events. A useful question to periodically ask yourself is this – are the goals listed on my career plan still motivating me to do my best at work? If not, what are some goals that would?
Remember, you are in it for the long haul. Stay motivated, focus on your goals and put them in writing. Using these tips will help you achieve a last and rewarding career.
In life, even the best laid plans can go awry. The unexpected can happen to anyone, and if your career plan ever veers off track, don’t panic. As one of Hong Kong’s most influential business magnate, Li Ka-Shing, once said, “Something that seems to be a loss can often turn out to be a gain.” Setbacks can often be learning opportunities to grow from. Go with the flow, re-assess the situation, this time taking into account the new circumstances that you find yourself in, and start working towards your career planning objective again. The key to this is keeping both your mind and your options open, and to adapt to new situations as they arise.
See you in five years!
Make your days count when you love what you do.