How To Develop Your Own Career Plan

Your Career

By Segun Akiode

“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” - Jesse Owens

VENTURES AFRICA – Many years ago while I was in High School in the city of Lagos, a junior student asked me a pertinent question – “Senior Segun, when you are through with high school, what next?” I paused for a while before I gave my answer – I plan to read an engineering course and be an engineer, I responded. Unconsciously for me, an educational goal was set. And looking back with hindsight, I can smile knowing that I achieved the first part of the goal with a Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering while the other part to be an engineer has being replaced (now I am in the ‘human-rig’ of human resources and not the oil-rig!). Why the entire personal tale you would ask? Please, I am going somewhere stay with me.

Every endeavour in life first start with an intention or fragment of thoughts, once nurtured they form ideas which becomes dreams and goals are then set for their actualization. Many a time, these processes are done unconsciously. But before the unconscious mind takes over the goal setting process, the conscious mind must challenge it to do so. Meaning goal setting are important in life as it forms the picture of the future. It is even believed that you cannot feature in a future you do not picture. As simple as this illustration is in human living, so is the career management process. You need to consciously plan your career.

Permit me to ask you a few questions – Do you have a current career plan? Is your career plan broken into short, medium and long term? If you do have a career plan, is it just a mental picture or is it written? If you are like most people, your answer to at least one of the above questions is “no”. When you do not have a clear career plan that is broken into goal stages of actualization, there is no way you can know when you get to your ‘dream career destination.

Many people think about their careers and their future in abstract terms. They send an emergency alert – ‘I need a Job’! And you respond with – ‘what type of job are you looking for’ and you get the usual answer of ‘any job’! You need to get out of the box of thinking that you can do ‘any job’ – No you cannot!

In your hands lay the full responsibility of taking charge and managing your career. It does not end once you secure a job; it is a life-long effort. To be of help to you in the career planning and career goal setting process, please note the following useful tips below:

Perform a ‘self-assessment’. This involves you making a list of your interests, skills, strengths, weakness, etc . Read my earlier post – “How Self Discovery Can Help Your Career” – for guidelines. This list will be a “snapshot” of who you are today and what you have to offer in your chosen profession.
Decide your career goal. This would help you focus more clearly on possibilities available to you. A career goal can be a specific job you want to do – such as be a venture capitalist or a professor – or be a particular field you want to work in, such as finance or education. A career goal can also guide you into doing what you want with your life.
Determine what you need to do to prepare for your chosen career. Do you need to study a particular course or you need special training/professional certification? Also, determine what kind of experience (or years of experience) you will need to be successful in the career. This would help in breaking your career goals into short term (6months – 1 year period), medium term (2 – 5 years period) and long term (above 5 years).
Create your career action plan. Start with your long term career goals and then work backwards by writing down the steps you will need to take along the way in support of those long term goals. Identify benchmarks along the path toward your long-term goals. For example, to be a venture capitalist in say 15 years, you would need high levels of financial knowledge and general business acumen. This would require you to have at least a degree in finance/economics, an MBA and at least 10 years of experience in a financial/investment related industry (looks simple right?). So go ahead to write your own career plan into action steps.

The whole idea of today’s discourse of career planning is that it has to be personalised to your needs and not mine as it would help you navigate through life’s journey with greater rate of success. Why don’t you get to work right away with your own career plan?

Feel free to drop your views in the comment section of this post.

Till next time, we are all work in progress!