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How to Make a Career Plan and Stick to It


With lots of movement in the job market, it seems people have never been so ready to change jobs and there has never been so much choice for those who decide to do so. It can be a heady time when candidates are brought into an interview process and find they are offered more money to join a new company, and that their existing employer then counter offers them even more money to stay.

So what’s the best strategy in a speculative market to make sure that you make it through with more than just a vaguely swollen bank balance and instead with a really solid base for the future? Making a career plan.


One the easiest ways to find out what you want from the future is to look around the office, particularly at the senior team, and decide who you’d rather be. Do you want to be the MD, who looks at money coming in, money going out, and who provides a leadership role and vision to the company as a whole? Or would you rather be the client facing Business Development Director? Out networking, pinging contacts, involved in the new social media trends as they emerge and passing business into teams across the company? Perhaps you prefer the role of an individual contributor, and see yourself as that senior specialist who beavers away and without whom the whole thing would fall apart. No team leadership, no budgets, just a specialist and important trade that you’ve crafted into senior status.

Once you know what you’d like to aim for in your career, you also need to commit to the important things in your life outside work. No point landing that CEO job in 15 years time, only to find out you had to forsake all your family time and chance to run a marathon along the way because you were at work 24/7. If you recognise those outside goals then you can make decisions that include them as your career develops, job by job.


Write down your career plan and write down your personal goals. You can’t have belief in your actions if you’re not even sure what you’re aiming for. Once you believe, your behaviour will back that up and in turn affect your outcomes.

Next time you’re considering a new role at work, or leaving your job for something new ask yourself, is it taking you in the direction you’ve decided upon? Do you accept a counter offer because of small wins, like an attractive new salary, or do you push ahead with career-based decision making? When you hear about a new job in the market, do you have to apply for it at all, or are you gaining ground in your career plan by staying where you are?


Having a career map, a clear vision and direction for your own career, will transform the decision making process for you when it comes to new job offers and will give you the freedom to rally against accepted wisdoms such as, ‘never move unless you get an increase in job title’. Once you know how much ground you’re gaining with every correct decision, you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of the journey even more and feel firmly set on your own course.