So you want to start the new year knowing that your career is on the right path, but you’re not really sure how to get there? Congratulations, you came to the right place!
After having read the present article and implemented its advice, you’ll feel prepared to face the new year with confidence it will be a year worth living. And we want to be part of it.
Before starting, I’m assuming you already reviewed your past year. If not, that’s where this process starts.
Why you should plan your career
If you’re still not convinced why this process is even worth it, think of it like a road trip: if you don’t know where you’re going, have no map and no directions, you’ll get somewhere; it just won’t be the place you wished for.
Yep, something like this.
A plan gives you a general path and a set of directions to take you there. It also serves another useful purpose: it forces you to think hard about things and commit to them. You know, that kind of task you’ve been postponing for the past 5 years.
Convinced? I sure hope so, ‘cause this ship is sailing!
1. Think about where do you want to go
Start by asking yourself “By the end of the upcoming year, where would I like to stand?”. What would make you feel fulfilled and think of your year as a huge win? This will work as your motivator, it’s the reward in the finish line – your Northern Star.
I know it’s hard: it needs to be something that is good enough to move you, but still realistic enough for you to find attainable. Here are some resources to make the process a little easier:
a) Designing Your Life: The design thinking framework applied to how you vision your career;
b) YourFit Model: our own guide to understanding yourself and what factors you value;
After you have your Northern Star, you already have a sense of where you want to get. This makes it much easier to control if your efforts are leading towards it.
2. Define how to get there
Now that you have the finish point, you just reverse engineer your way there from where you currently stand. What are the steps you need to make and in which sequence?
Mark down monthly objectives that will get you closer to your Northern Star. By the way, don’t forget the fundamentals of goal setting.
This step will serve a double-sided purpose:
a) It will be your roadmap to use during the year; a reminder you need to be constantly deploying to achieve the desired outcome by year’s end;
b) Break the Northern Star in easier to handle pieces. It’s tough to build a platform all at once; implementing small features prevents you from feeling overwhelmed, and increases your motivation towards the process.
Google Maps: ✔️
3. Ask opinions from others
A road trip can be done on your own, but having people who can help you get there will increase the chances of arriving at the destination. And let’s face it, isn’t it way more fun that way?
The tracklist is optional.
The first set of people you can involve are the ones which you already have regular contact with: your friends, family, colleagues, etc. Share with them your Northern Star and the path to get there, and see what sort of feedback you get. Do this especially for the people you think will give you the most honest and truthful answers.
Next, contact individuals who successfully pursued a similar path as yours, and ask them for advice going forward: which shortcuts they took, what were the main pain points and what would they do differently if possible. This will give a new perspective on the road ahead, and let you be more prepared for the challenges you’ll be facing.
Ideally, these contacts should be inside of your network already, but cold email is always a viable option. People are always more open to contacts than we assume, so don’t be afraid; the least you can get is a “NO”. And that’s ok.
You can also choose to have an ongoing relationship with the people you contact in the previous step and make them your mentors. The advantage of it is to have someone who knows where you should be heading, giving recurrent feedback and assessing how you’re evolving.
Travel Buddies: ✔️
4. Commit to your choices
The Principle of Consistency is defined as the need for humans to be seen by others as consistent in their choices. It’s this little friend which makes people maintain the same position towards a subject even when they are rationally shown otherwise.
Why am I telling you this? Because it can be used in your favour. By committing publicly to your objective for the year, you’re linking its success with your capacity to stay consistent. This will ultimately motivate you towards a more active pursuit of your Northern Star.
So now I challenge you to commit publicly with what you’re aiming for this year. And for that, I’ll leave you with a very simple template that you can use:
Hello, dear [Insert loved one’s name]. I just wanted to let you know that in the next 12 months I’ll be working towards [Insert Northern Star]. I want to have your thoughts on this, and any advice you can give me is more than welcome. Thanks!
It’s as easy as they come. So now take a few moments to do this task with everyone you referred on Step 3. Don’t worry, I can wait!
Now that you’ve committed to it, you can start feeling the pressure to do it. You’re welcome!
Goodbye Letter: ✔️
5. Adapt the plan continuously
As with probably everything you’ve experienced so far in your life, things never go 100% as planned. As so, you should be ready and flexible enough to implement changes as needed, and not give up on your objective upon encountering the first obstacle.
If you executed the previous steps well, these sort of problems should be minimized. Still, define in which elements are you open to compromise or not. Sometimes you can get to a similar destination, others you can just take a different road.
The important thing is that you are comfortable with what you’re doing and the objective remains something central for you to feel fulfilled.
A spirit of adventure: ✔️
And there you have it! Those are the 5 steps you should take when planning your career for this next year.
What do you think? Tell me where you had the most difficulties and what is missing at [email protected].
And if the next step in your career is to get an awesome new tech job, give Landing.jobs a visit. We’re more than welcome to help.
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