Career planning for the New Year

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December 20, 2023

We often begin the new year with good intentions. And, after the break for the holidays, our professional life comes into sharp focus – with new goals and enthusiasm for the new year. But what’s the best way to tackle career planning for the new year?

Here’s the Blueprint team’s suggestions for ensuring that your career planning for this new year helps to set you up for success.


Take a five-year view

While it’s great to capitalize on the sense of a fresh start that the new year often brings with it, your career planning for the new year shouldn’t be limited to a one-year outlook.

The Harvard Business Review recommends that you take a long-term approach to career planning. It says, “Having a long-term plan for your career can help you to reduce career-related stress, increase your perceived employability and allow you to connect more deeply with your purpose.”

New year resolutions and annual appraisals can sometimes direct us to think about our professional lives in annual increments. However, careers aren’t built in a year. And circumstances can change dramatically in a year – with enormous potential to throw you off track.

HBR asserts that “five-year plans open the door for you to think more completely about yourself and your career,” says HBR. They “also give you the flexibility to change what’s no longer relevant to your long-term goals without derailing your progress. This way, you’re always working toward what you truly want to achieve.”


Think deeply about what you truly want to achieve

What are you passionate about? What would you consider to be your dream job?

Think also about your values. Career coach Susan Peppercorn says, “Values are the bedrock on which you make decisions. When you rank these values – community, authenticity, faith, whatever they are – you can set goals based on those values.”

When you think about the skills and experiences you need to nurture in order to achieve your dreams, it can be a great idea to reach out to your network for advice. HBR says, “We’re not always the best judges of our own capabilities and strengths. That’s why it can be important early in your planning process to gather feedback from your superiors, mentors and peers.”

Ask open questions, such as: If you were in my position, what areas would you focus on developing? What’s the one skill you would recommend I master to get to the next level in my career?

Understand that there are many ways to get to the same point. Remember that, as long as you are clear about your ultimate goal and consistently working towards it, the how is less important than the destination.

Once you’ve mapped out your five-year trajectory, seek feedback from your peers, manager, mentors and coaches again. Does this plan enable you to meet your near-term commitments while serving your longer-term aspirations? Are you being too aggressive with your pace or do you need to speed things up?

Ask yourself: Does this plan inspire me and give me more energy to keep learning?


Monitor progress and adapt as required

Your plan is a fluid thing. You will need to regularly assess your progress against it and be ready to adapt it to new circumstances. Get into a regular cadence with your reviews. Seek feedback from your mentors, peers, managers and coaches as part of your review and planning sessions.

A quarterly review to monitor progress and an annual review where you plot out the next year so that your plan continues to roll on, is a useful and workable cadence.


What next?

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