by Deborah Brown-Volkman
Are you a good planner, but not a good implementer? Do you begin strong, but get sidetracked along the way?
It takes work to put together a career plan. You are combining courage, vision, and the specifics of what needs to happen when.
When you put these elements together, you create a workable plan that can take you from point A to point B in a powerful and focused manner.
Once you have your plan, you are at the implementation stage. Once you know what you want, next are the steps you take to make your plan real.
The process of implementing your career plan can be divided into three components:
- Taking action
- Reviewing the steps you have taken
- Preparing for your next steps
Let's go through each one:
1. Taking action:
You reach your goals when you are actively working on them. Mapping out what you plan to do -- and then doing it -- is your recipe for success.
If you were to complete one step from your plan every day, you will have taken 30 steps at the end of the month and 365 steps by the end of the year. These small steps can take you a long way. Small steps add up to big ones. You will achieve your plan one step at a time.
2. Reviewing the steps you have taken:
On some days, you will do everything you have planned, and some days you will not. Don't let this discourage you.
Sometimes you may feel that you are not progressing as fast as you'd like. At these times, remember that despite your best intentions, you are not a machine. Your job may get extra busy from time to time, and unexpected things may crop up that demand your immediate attention. Of course, you must take care of these things.
You also need to take time out for rest if you are feeling exhausted. It is OK to stray slightly from your plan every once in a while, but if you have begun to neglect it completely, it is important to note why. Are you afraid to take the next step? Are you truly committed? Do you need to revisit the steps in your plan and revise them? It is fine to take a step back, or a break, if that's what you think you need to move forward again.
If you decide to take a break, ask yourself:
- Do I need to tweak my plan?
- Do I need to readjust the priority of my steps?
- Do I need to rearrange the scheduling of the steps in my calendar?
Part of implementing a plan is learning what works and what doesn't. Review and reassess as much as you feel is necessary. This is a normal part of the process.
3. Preparing for your next steps:
Make it a habit to sit down with your calendar on Sunday evenings. Go over your plan and the steps you will be working on during the coming week. Write down in your calendar specifically when you will be working on each step. Every day, reviewing your calendar in the morning is a good way to keep it fresh in your mind for the rest of the day. These two simple steps will keep you mindful of both your weekly and daily tasks.
Don't forget to look at your plan every day, too. When you focus on the future, you will find that it will arrive quicker than you think.
So, what do you say? You only have one life to live, so it might as well be a life you love!
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.