Career Planning Basics

Career Planning Basics

Whether you are in the beginning or late stages of your professional life, almost anyone stands to benefit from a little bit of career planning. Plann

Whether you are in the beginning or late stages of your professional life, almost anyone stands to benefit from a little bit of career planning. Planning, contrary to popular belief, is not something that occurs once and never needs to be adjusted. Active planning means adapting to the way your life and the world unfolds and revising your plans as often as necessary. Sometimes a revision amounts to just a couple tweaks; sometimes it is a complete overhaul.

Planning your career encompasses countless micro-decisions and minute considerations, and you can decide which of these you will lend most of your focus, attention, and effort to based on your individual values. There are a few things, however, that everyone must consider if they want to maintain an effective career plan.

Goal setting

When you were younger, you likely had many lofty goals. Perhaps you did not think you would achieve all of them, or maybe you truly believed you would. In fact, maybe you have! But for many people, the goals they held as young adults have evolved or completely disappeared by the time they have reached fuller professional development.

It is likely that this is not the last time your goals will change. They may change because they have been met, and you now need to cast about for new goals; they may change because your values changed; they may change because you tried something and decided it was not a good fit for you. Whatever the case, one of the most important pieces of goal setting is adaptability.

Practically, well-set goals have a few elements that make them more attainable. For one thing, they are concrete. It is healthy to set more abstract goals in other areas of your life, but business goals should be tangible. Use numbers and specifics wherever possible. Once you have a concrete goal, it is much easier to break it down into milestones and tasks, which is one of the most effective ways to accomplish it.

Savings and retirement

Ideally you began saving for retirement early in life, but this is not a possibility for everyone. Some people may not have had the financial wherewithal, while others may not have seen it as that pressing of a necessity. Either way, regardless of where they fall on their professional trajectories, each person will likely find themselves at a very different place than the person next to them regarding savings and retirement.

It is important to take advantage of whatever options your employers have for retirement benefits. If you own your own business, however, especially if you have just started a brokerage, for example, this may get a little more complicated.

When saving for retirement or even for earlier concerns such as a new house or your children’s tuition, it can be helpful to consult the experts on what percentage of your earnings should be allocated to different savings areas, but the reality is that each situation is different. Consider your needs and consult those you trust.

Work-life balance

One extremely important but often overlooked element of career planning is work-life balance. It is integral to a successful career plan to avoid burnout and job dissatisfaction by preparing for yourself a life that allows you to meet your own needs. Of course, being employed and bringing home a paycheck helps provide for the necessities and luxuries of life, but your mental and physical health are not completely dependent on your work life and can in fact be negatively impacted if you focus too much on your professional self.

Attempt to find a balance between your work and your personal life and you will find that you are more effective at planning for and adapting to both.