Career Planning – Review, Reflect, Move Forward
It’s that time of the year – looking back, taking stock, and figuring out if we want to call last year a success or a failure… and strategizing how we can make this year even better. To be fully transparent, I suck at this – particularly around the “success” part of that equation. I could spend a few weeks analyzing just how sucky something went and question every small detail along the way.
But alas, only focusing on what went wrong, never helps me move forward. It only serves to keep me stuck. While I don’t think January 1st is the only time that you should be reviewing, reflecting and moving forward, it does seem to be the easiest way to figure out what your priorities will be for the year ahead.
Below you will find the framework that I use every year to help me get focused and start, stop or continue various activities. A few things to note before we start:
- This template can be used for any type of “career” you are looking to plan for the upcoming year. It works if you are an entrepreneur, a traditional corporate worker, or something in between. It’s all about how you want to focus and position yourself.
- A great suggestion from Pam Slim is to think of each topic as a strategic priority – I had been doing this for years with the heading “topic,” but when she mentioned to me honing in on priorities, it felt more authentic. So use those interchangeably based on what you are trying to plan out.
It’s quick and dirty – no need to linger in the past!
Career Planning Worksheet
If you are just interested in getting your worksheet on, you can Download your FREE Career Planning Worksheet now.
I’ve outlined the process below so you can see what’s ahead!
Step 1: Briefly looking back at your story for the past year
- Which goals did I make ANY progress on?
- What about those goals made me feel compelled/jazzed/energized/guilted, etc. into focusing on them?
- Which goals did I create that felt more like obligations? Do you still feel like you “should” focus on them?
Step 2: Creating your Point of Departure
You can’t plan for what’s ahead without knowing where you’re coming from (Point of Departure) to where you are going (Point of Arrival). Yes, they are very business-y terms, but it’s super fun to think about and absolutely will shape what you focus on in the coming year. This is the “get real” portion of the worksheet – you have to dig deep and think about what you *really* want to be known for in the future. What actions are you doing because you “have to” or “should,” versus wanting to?
- What is your current story for the past year?
- From that story, what do you want to Start, Stop and Continue?
Step 3: Planning your Point of Arrival for the Next Year
- When I do this again in December, here’s what I want my story to be.
- Brainstorm away – with these rules:
- You write down everything that pops into your mind
- You do not limit yourself to “realistic” ideas
- You think BIG and small
Step 4: Set your Goals
This will take some time, which is why you should start now! Essentially, start backwards from what you want your story to be at the end of the year, and link each one to your missing gaps right now.
Create SMART goals based on your key topics of focus or areas of strategic priorities. Then start moving!
This whole process should take you about 1 – 2 hours, depending on how deep you want to go. But at the end of the day, what’s important is that you are CONSCIOUSLY focusing on your career direction and start creating your own story.
Want even more planning goodness? There are so many awesome planning templates and ideas out there. Here are a few of my favorites: