I started planning my career in 2008. I have learned valuable lessons and skills throughout that time. Moreover, for the past couple of years I have been in a role that I find optimal at this stage of my plan. And can confidently say so, thanks to having explored other options through my career planning.
Many acquaintances have also contacted me to help them out with their own career planning. So much so that I needed to formalize this career planning “service” to ensure we have more productive conversations.
6 career planning activities
Career planning is not a hobby. It’s a way of thinking. I decompose this way of thinking in 6 activities:
- Vision & life planning
What do you want to use your life for? For some, this is about what legacy you’d like to have, what dreams you have. For others, it’s about finding the right priorities and work-life balance. Yet others want to live by a motto or philosophy. It requires a lot of introspection to discover what you value and develop a theory of change from it. Most people do not spend nearly as much time on this as is necessary to find what is meaningful to them.
- Career goal-setting & KPIs development
Given your vision, what should you aim for in the long-term? There is a lot of uncertainty around your career. But you need something to converge to. So, be it making your hometown’s art & culture known worldwide, cure malaria, providing for your children’s own career or inventing next-gen battery technologies, keep that in mind. You also should make your goal actionable through measures of progress you can track (such as Key Performance Indicators).
- Career situation analysis
Where do you stand now? What is your baggage, what are your strengths and weaknesses, your opportunities and threats? Knowing yourself is very important to determine what to do. So, make sure you are honest with yourself during career planning. This is a humbling part of the process. Indeed, it often requires giving up on some unrealistic expectations. But don’t despair – we humans are very plastic: training can help you offset what you consider a weakness.
- Career & pathways mapping
This is about pathways generation, connecting the dots and selecting which pathway(s) to aim for. It is also about finding the many ways you can use to get from your current situation to achieving your goal(s). While the previous activities require a lot of introspection, at this stage this is about research. You indeed have to understand reality to know what is possible and plausible . Then, we can process all this information to outline an overarching strategy.
- Job-hunting & training program
Once you have gone through the previous activities a couple of times, it’s time to act upon it. Career planning is not done in a vacuum. You actually need to go out there, try new things, gain skills and real experience to figure out how to update your plan. You therefore must avoid “analysis-paralysis” and commit to taking risks. This is probably the least comfortable stage, as it implies dealing with rejections. Job-hunting has been a distressing experience for everyone I know, including myself.
- Career tactics, productivity & positioning
From networking to side projects to personal brand management, there is more to your career than your job title. You need to think through these tactical operations to support your strategic progress. Some professionals even have a whole “side career” (as blog writer, social entrepreneur, …). So their job is just a way to preserve a reliable source of income. While this might not be the best course of action for many, everyone should spend more time thinking about the side activities that best empower them. Building your own productivity system is also something that can speed up progress on your career path – or reduce stress throughout.
How can I help?
After over 10 years refining my approach to these 6 activities and helping others do the same, I have noticed that my way of thinking about career planning was helpful to many around me. If this knowledge can be useful to you, do reach out to mexnicolasmoes.com with @ instead of x and we can schedule a call. When you contact me, please take some time to summarize your initial thinking about your vision and goals, so that you and I can better assess whether or not my services would be useful to you at all.