Wherever you are in your career journey, whether just starting out, thinking of switching roles or industries, or planning for retirement, it pays to look towards the future with a clear idea of where you’re heading.
Whilst we can’t predict what’s just around the corner (the last few years have certainly taught us that!), we CAN think about where we are now, where we’d like to end up, what barriers there may be along the way, and the tangible steps we need to take to achieve our goals.
An excellent strategy for achieving short-term advancement goals is to create a 5-year plan.
In this blog, I’d like to discuss the benefits of a 5-year plan and walk you through my seven top tips.
1. Dream big
Developing your plan is an opportunity to take stock of your career journey so far and think about where you’d like to be in 5 years’ time.
Do you see yourself progressing in the role you’re already in?
Do you want to develop your skills and move into leadership?
Do you want to do the same role but in another industry? Or do you yearn to do something completely different?
Try to shift your thinking away from what you ‘should’ be doing and consider your ‘why’ in life and what you dream of doing next.
2. Develop clear goals and set timescales
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins.
Once you have a clearer picture of where you want to end up, it’s time to develop tangible goals to help you get there.
Where do you see yourself at the end of each year along the way?
Breaking your dream into smaller goals will help you visualise the journey you need to go on and help you list all the smaller steps you need to take to make it a reality.
3. Develop your skills
What are the hard and soft skills you’ll need to achieve your goals in your 5-year plan?
This may include attending specific training courses to gain the on-the-job skills and experiences you need to reach your destination.
It may also include working on your soft skills such as empathy, growth mindset, creative thinking, conflict resolution, teamwork, time management, adaptability, or leadership.
List the skills you have and feel confident using and look at the areas where you need to develop yourself. It may be helpful to speak to colleagues and others who know you well, as sometimes the skills we feel we lack are actually the ones others perceive us to be strong at using!
4. Identify risks and barriers
Thinking about the obstacles and difficulties you may experience along the way will help to reduce the emotional impact should they happen. We can’t mitigate all eventualities, but having a good idea of where the pitfalls may be means you can develop contingency plans or at least work on your resilience so they don’t derail you completely.
5. Document it
The beauty of documenting your 5-year plan is that you have something tangible to discuss with your line manager, and it keeps you accountable along the way. Writing down goals means we’re more likely to stick to and achieve them! It also helps solidify them in our minds and allows us to see when we’re diverting from where we should be heading.
Think about the best way to visualise what you want to achieve. It could be a simple document, table, graphic, or chart. These are very personal, so choose the best format for your personality and overall goals.
6. Look at your personal brand
When looking to advance your career or make a significant move, it’s worth looking at who you are, how others perceive you, your credibility and potential, your USPs, and how you want to package yourself to the outside world. This is also known as
your personal brand!
You may think that this sounds like something only entrepreneurs who are the face of their brand need to do, but we can all benefit from the exercise. It can be beneficial when it comes to networking, writing LinkedIn profiles, or applying for jobs.
For more information on how to develop yours, head over to my previous blog.
7. Develop your network
Thinking about where you may be in 5 years may seem daunting, so don’t go it alone!
Consider finding a mentor, such as your line manager, colleague, family or friends, to use as a sounding board, get advice, or support you in developing a solid network of people to help you turn your vision into a reality.
Revisit your plan regularly
Think of your plan as a living document that you review every few months, or at the very least twice a year.
However, be mindful of being too rigid with it! Accept that things may change along the way, for example company acquisitions, reorganisations at work or changes with family commitments may require you to fine-tune it.
If you want some help drafting your 5-year plan, let’s grab a virtual coffee and chat about how we can work together to turn your dreams into reality.