How To Develop A 5-Year Career Plan
Turns out, having a long-term plan for your career can be beneficial.
A Gartner survey conducted in March 2022 found that fewer than one in three employees knows how to develop their career over the next five years.
If you’re one of those people, know that there are ways to move your career forward.
To reap the benefits of creating a long-term career plan, you must first step away from the habit of only setting yearly career goals.
Thanks to things like New Year’s resolutions and annual reviews, you may be under the impression that the best way to think about your career is on a yearly basis.
Here’s the thing: Careers aren’t built in a year.
Here are a few reasons why one-year plans don’t always work.
Of course, you can, and should, set incremental goals to make progress on these skills, but it’s important to think ahead about how you’ll continue to develop these capabilities.
Like skills, big goals tend to take multiple years to reach.
Completing a degree or certificate program, for example, can seem insurmountable when you’re only thinking of your career one year at a time.
If you plan to accomplish a larger career goal, you must plan ahead and consider the best timing to move forward.
Just one of these events is enough to throw a solid one-year plan completely off course.
To put it simply, five-year plans open the door for you to think more completely about yourself and your career.
Having a long-term plan can help you focus on developing your transferable skills, as opposed to skills just for your current role and organization.
Five-year plans also give you the flexibility to change what’s no longer relevant to your long-term goals, without derailing your progress.
A multi-year plan can help you feel more fulfilled in your current role.
The intent of a five-year plan is to think bigger and broader.
It’s about creating a systematic approach to your career that’s built to flex when life gets chaotic.
Start by thinking about how you want your career to develop and what you need to do to get there.
You’ll need to identify your primary goal, your passions, how your existing skills contribute to both those things, and your areas for improvement.
These questions will help you dig deeper and uncover the goals you really have for your career.
That’s why it can be important early in your planning process to gather feedback from your superiors, mentors, and peers.
They may help you discover career opportunities you never considered for yourself, clue you into strengths you may be overlooking, and share insights regarding your areas for growth and development.
There are many different ways to conceptualize your five-year plan, and it’s important that you find the approach that will keep you engaged.
Use the first slide or page to outline your career goals.
You can always adjust your plan later, but start by letting yourself dream.
On the second slide or page, list out the skills you already have and the ones you would need to achieve your ultimate career goals.
On the third slide or page, write down the development activities you plan to pursue over the next five years.
A “Development activity” can be anything that helps you reach your goals or learn the skills you need to move forward.
If you can envision yourself pursuing several different paths or roles, you may want to create a plan for each of these scenarios.
To future-proof your plan, you should try to focus on skills and development activities that are transferrable to the multiple paths you’re interested in.
Unlike year-long goal setting, the process of creating a five-year plan is never complete.
Your plan should be flexible enough to continually adjust throughout your career.
One way to ensure you’re keeping your plan updated is to set a quarterly calendar reminder.
This will help you address any new developments in your life or career and make changes where necessary.
Once you have reflected on your plan and collected feedback, take time to adjust.
You may need to fine-tune the timing for gaining certain skills that are critical for your next career move.
As you embark on your career development journey, you need to adopt a growth mindset and think beyond the short term.
It’s time to reframe your career planning from an annual check-box chore to a perpetual development process that moves you closer towards your goals.
Planning for five years instead of one gives you the space to expand your possibilities and helps you keep up with change.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2023
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
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