Staying Ahead of the Curve: Building Your Future through Career Planning and Development

Staying Ahead of the Curve: Building Your Future through Career Planning and Development

One of the most commonly asked questions during interviews is where do you see yourself in five years. It’s a question some people hate to answer because the truth is, they don’t really know. Other people are poised and eager to answer because they have it all thought out, down to the smallest detail. 

Where do you fall on that line? Do you have a vision for where you want to go, who you want to be, and how you want your career to progress? Or are you figuring it out as you go? 

It’s a good idea to have goals and objectives to work toward, as they can help keep you focused and inspired. 

Here’s how to keep your career moving in the right direction with a little forward thinking. 

  1. Address your trouble spots. The best way to achieve new career goals is to start with what’s bothering you. If there’s a task you don’t particularly like to do or one that gives you trouble, it’s time to make peace with it and find a way to excel. Maybe the current approach doesn’t work for you; try a different tactic and see if that helps. Or maybe it’s time to scrap the existing procedures and start from scratch, trying new things until you find what works for you. When you find a way to be successful at this task, it’ll be a great boost to your confidence, plus it’ll be something you can talk about in future interviews when the time comes to make a change. 
  2. Keep learning. Just like learning new ways to solve a problem, learning new methods, new concepts, and new skills keeps your brain sharp and engaged; plus, it’s a great way to boost creativity. Creative thinkers evolve into leaders and mentors — both of which are great traits for advancing your career! 
  3. Look ahead by working backward. Outside of that interview scenario, when was the last time you thought about where you want to go with your career? For a lot of people, they’re more interested and invested in finding a job when they’re looking to make a change or if they’ve been let go; there isn’t a whole lot of time or interest at that point for setting goals other than securing employment. But what do you want to do with your career? Do you want to be a manager? A director? Do you want to be a team leader? You can start small, but the best way to start making progress is to talk to someone who has the title you’d like one day. Ask them how they got there. Based on what they say, work backward and determine each step along the way, and then get started on making those same advances. 
  4. Be SMART about it. This is a popular acronym, standing for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound, and it’s a way to create a vision for your career that allows you to track your progress in very real ways. By setting specific goals, you know what you need to achieve. Making those goals measurable means you can know, without question, when you’re hitting important milestones. Goals that are actionable are also attainable — you’re not going to set yourself an unrealistic goal because there’s no path toward achieving it; you’re going to set your vision on something you can work toward and reach. And it’s important to give yourself a timeline that is rooted in reality and practicality for reaching these goals to keep yourself motivated and focused. 
  5. Remember to take breaks and balance your responsibilities. The truth is, you can become so focused on achieving, advancing, and working for your goals that you neglect your health, your relationships, and the people who matter to you, including yourself. What good is success if you can’t enjoy it? Take your paid time off. Turn off the phone after hours. Disconnect from work fully when off the clock and on vacation. Be sure to drink plenty of water during the day and take small breaks as you complete tasks. Your brain needs rest in order to work properly! Keeping a good work-life balance can also remind you why you want to achieve these goals in order to help enhance the life you live outside of working hours. 

Having goals and an idea of where you want to go in life and with your career is wonderful! Commit to doing the work and staying on track, and you’re bound to succeed, even if, ultimately, success doesn’t look like what you thought it would at the beginning. Good luck! 

If you need other advice or if a new job is what will help start your journey, call SmartTalent. We work with great companies who are looking for candidates with your background and experience, and they might have just the job you need! Call SmartTalent today, and let’s get started.

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