Even if you are happy in your current role, making a 5-year career plan should be at the top of your agenda. Here’s how to do it.
Analysis by the HuffPost estimated the aggregate total of how long an average person will work over their entire life coming in at 13 years and 2 months.
It also estimated that most people will change jobs between 10 and 15 times during their lives.
This means that while you may like your current job or career, given you will spend a fair chunk of time at work, and are likely to change jobs, industries or professions at several points, planning what this looks like might not be such a bad thing.
And having a 5-year plan might be the way to go.
What is a 5-year career plan?
A 5-year career plan is as simple as it sounds – it is you taking stock of the next five years of your working life and putting in place some targets for where you would like to be career-wise during this period and at its completion. Alongside it, you might also build in a 5-year plan for other aspects of your personal life as quite often this correlates with where you are at with your career.
The benefits of a 5-year career plan
Formulating your 5-year career plan may seem like a daunting task, but it comes with great benefits.
First and foremost, it helps you align your ambitions with what realistic career success looks like. The two don’t always match and therein lies one of the great insights the career plan offers – the chance to identify ways to bridge the gap between the two.
The 5-year career plan will also help you understand what is important to you in the workplace and your career more broadly, while giving you the tools to create opportunities to both propel you forward in your career and track how you are going.
And, maybe most importantly of all, by mapping out this 5-year career plan with a range of ‘sub-goals’ along the way, you can create immense self-motivation as you see the possibilities that lie ahead if you meet the objectives you lay out in the plan.
The five steps to making your 5-year career plan
There are five main steps to strategizing and achieving your 5-year career plan:
Defining your vision and considering your goals.
Determining your ‘why’.
Establishing the path to achieve your goals.
Doing your research.
Re-evaluating and adjusting your plan periodically.
1. Defining your vision and consider your goals
First up is the most obvious – a frank but optimistic assessment of where you are now and what the goals along the way are to achieving where you want to be in five year’s time.
Ask yourself. ‘Where do I see myself professionally in five years?’
Make sure this goal is measurable, specific, realistic (if hopeful!) and most importantly – achievable. Once you do this, you then need to ask yourself, ‘What are the steps I need to take to get myself to that vision/goal(s)?’
2. Determining your ‘why’
Steps 1 and 2 are a little ‘what comes first, the chicken or the egg?’
Some of you will want to set up visions and goal(s) first, then think about the ‘why’ that sits underneath them – in effect the motivation for wanting to achieve them. For others, working the other way around will make more sense – starting with the ‘why’, which then informs what the goals/vision will be. Either way, understanding your ‘why’ is crucial and it might not be remotely related to your career at all but more a personal ‘why’.
So, your ‘why’ might be, ‘I want to open my own medical practice within five years’, which clearly needs a great deal of planning. Or it could be ‘I want to spend three months in South America in five year’s time’, so a personal goal that can only be achieved by also having a career plan.
3. Establishing the path to achieve your goals
Next up, you need to formulate the path forward.
Because your 5-year career plan needs to be achievable, and many of us work better via a ‘rewards’ mindset, setting out ‘bite-sized’ goals allows you to track your progress and feel like you are making headway.
Ultimately, it’s your choice about how bite-sized these goals are, and they can also be determined by what the ultimate goal/vision is. We recommend at the very least breaking the plan down into yearly goals, and then further down into 6-monthly or even monthly mini goals.
Be very clear about what each goal is and define wherever possible how you intend to achieve that goal – what are the key stepping stones along the way?
4. Doing your research
Once you’ve laid out the plan, spend some time researching how you can achieve each component or sub component.
This will help you identify gaps in your knowledge in terms of where you are now and where you want to be in five years, which in turn helps you identify hurdles you may hit along the way, allowing you to work out how to handle these and adjust your sub goals accordingly.
5. Re-evaluating and adjusting your plan periodically
What’s the old saying? The best laid plans of mice and men…
Yes, plans do change for reasons both within and outside of our control. This means that your five-year career plan might need re-evaluation and adjustment along the way.
A lot can happen in a year (hello COVID), let alone five, so it means the best plans are those that are flexible. You can’t foresee the outliers or curve balls that will come your way during that five-year period that could mean you will need to reassess aspects of your plan or even start over from scratch. So, think of your plan as a draft that is open to amendment or change, which doesn’t mean not sticking to it as much as possible or wriggling out of some of the hard bits!
But by being agile and responsive to changing circumstances, you can shift aspects of the plan and still end up achieving the ultimate goal.
Finally, remember that you made the plan to better yourself, both professionally and personally, so stay as committed as possible to it. Keep your eyes on the prize of what you will achieve and let it be the incentive to get you to the finish post…when it will be time to start planning out the next five years!
Gorilla Jobs Can Help You
We love what we do at Gorilla Jobs, and while there are challenges, we are always ready to help you as a candidate or recruiting organisation to ensure the best talent ends up in the best jobs. Reach out to us today if you have any questions!