A super simple career plan for 2019
“I love it when a plan comes together.”
But before you light a cigar à la Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith (remember The A-Team?), you have to have a plan in the first place. So let’s go.
(I’m assuming you want to make a career change and that’s less likely to happen without a plan. A plan increases your chances of taking action, staying on track, and making decisions that will bring you closer to your goal. Otherwise, what you want to achieve gets lost in the busyness of the day-to-day hustle and you get distracted by urgent but not important tasks.)
If you want to make a career change, a plan helps make it a priority.
However, changing career - or simply making changes within your existing career - can seem like a huge task. So much so that we can avoid doing anything at all about it. Here’s a SUPER SIMPLE way of taking a first step in the right direction which will set you up for the year ahead.
For a couple of days beforehand, take note of what you do and don't enjoy in your working day.
Think about where you want to do your planning. Where can you go that you won’t be interrupted?
Schedule it in your calendar, in a bright, bold colour. Give it at least a couple of hours.
On the day, turn off your mobile phone and any other distractions (you do not need to be running the washing machine/dryer/dishwasher or anything else that beeps: chances are, it can wait). Use a timer if you find it hard to stay on track.
What is a plan?
A plan is an intention - what we want to achieve - combined with a structure that facilitates action.
Steps 1 and 2 of your super simple plan involve answering a series of questions about what you do and don’t want in your working life. Write down the answers.
Step 3 is one final, powerful question that will help you structure your action-taking going forward. You’ll ask yourself this question whenever it comes to making a decision about how you want to spend your time. Whatever actions you take as a result are more likely to be in line with your goals.
Step 1: What do you want more of in 2019?
If you could do anything, what would it be? Dream BIG.
At work, what do you most enjoy doing? When are you at your best? When do you lose track of time, you’re so into what you’re doing?
Who do you enjoy working with and why? Who do you aspire to be like? What do other people admire about you?
Where do you enjoy working? What type of environment do you do your best work in?
Is there something you want to achieve in your current career? Or do you want to change career? What might that look like? What would your perfect working day look like?
Step 2: What do you want less of in 2019?
Think about all the things you do that drain your energy. Is there anything that you could stop doing, delegate to or hire someone else to do (this applies to household chores as well by the way)? What would lighten your load?
Perhaps there are skills and knowledge that you use in your work that you are highly competent at or considered an expert in but that you’ve grown tired of? What would you like to let go of to make space for something new?
Who would you like to spend less time with at work? Is there anyone who brings out the worst in you?! Who rubs you up the wrong way and what can you learn from that interaction? What would you like to do differently?
What’s not working for you in terms of where and how you spend your time? What types of environment have a negative impact on your productivity? What aspects of your working day would you like to ditch completely?
Step 3: What’s the one thing you could do to get started?
This is the point in a coaching relationship where we would work together to more clearly define your goal and then break it down into smaller, more doable tasks. For now, let's try to capture what you want to achieve in a single sentence: if you could achieve one thing in the next year, what would it be?
What will move you closer toward your goal? Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s “Focusing Question” can be useful in this regard: “What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
“Extraordinary results are rarely happenstance. They come from the choices we make and and the actions we take. The Focusing Question always aims you at the absolute best of both by forcing you to do what is essential to success—make a decision. But not just any decision—it drives you to make the best decision. It ignores what is doable and drills down to what is necessary, to what matters.” (Keller & Papasan, 2013, p. 107)
When making a decision about how to spend your time, use the Focusing Question to take you in the direction of whatever it is you want to achieve in your career.
Post-Planning: What comes next
Set a reminder to re-visit what you’ve written at least once a month. It's easy to forget. You can determine what is and isn’t working and what needs to change in order to make it happen.
In addition, coaching can provide support, motivation and accountability to help you keep on track. (Interested in working with me? Take a look at my one-to-one coaching services and give me a shout.)
The main thing is to seek out like-minded individuals who will give you a boost when you need it. (And hey, “If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them... maybe you can hire The A-Team"!)
Keller, G. & Papasan, J. (2013). The one thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results. London, England: John Murray.