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Planning for a Successful Career in 2016Career Development January 14, 2016
The beginning of the New Year is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the previous 12 months of your career, as well as looking forward to the year ahead. Taking the time to plan your success, while also being prepared to take opportunities that come your way, will help you succeed in 2016, says Hays CEO, Alistair Cox, in his latest LinkedIn Influencer blog.
Drawing from his own experience Alistair says, “Life is full of surprises so even perfect planning will not necessarily deliver your ambitions. In my experience, it’s been about getting the right balance between planning, executing on that plan and also taking your chances when something unexpected comes along.”
Successful career planning is about emphasising on the importance of seizing the right opportunities when they are presented to you, even if they weren’t in your original plan. Career success does rely to some extent on planning but it can be down to chance and taking that risk.
Alistair says, “Throughout my career, I’ve benefited from regularly taking stock of what I’m doing, what I want to be doing in the medium and long term and finding ways of getting there. However, some of my best ever decisions and moves came from left field. They weren’t meticulously planned in advance, but they were fundamental to my life.”
Here are four suggestions to help people think about their year ahead and how they can make the most of their career.
- Find the right environment to ask yourself some hard questions
One of the hardest parts of planning can be finding the time to do so. However, are there opportunities in your day when you do something, such as exercising or driving too and from work, where you are able to think about your long-term career ambitions?
Alistair says, “I often find that my best ideas come when I’m doing something totally different where my mind can wander.” Alistair added “So create the environment where you can freely think without time pressure and without the anxiety of having to come up with an answer.”
- Define your goals and plan to achieve them
Once you have an idea of what you want to achieve, write it down and think about your goals realistically, as well as the necessary steps you need to take to achieve them.
Alistair says, “There’s a huge benefit in making the steps shorter term so I know I have to take them. If it’s all longer term planning, the easiest thing in the world is to not worry about it yet and delay action. If your first committed action however is in the next week, it’s much harder to ignore it.”
- Do the same if you’ve just started a new role
Applying the same process when starting a new role can also be beneficial to ensuring your continued success. When you begin the role write down what you want to achieve within the next year to ensure you are both happy and feel as though the year has been well spent. This will help to influence the outcome of your first year in the new role.
- You cannot plan for the unexpected opportunities, but take them all the same
Despite how many plans you may make, life doesn’t follow a blueprint and from time to time will throw surprises and opportunities your way.
Looking back at his own career Alistair says there were a number of chance conversations that led him down a different path than what he originally intended, taking him to where he is today. “Making good plans will prompt you into action. However, you must also be adaptable to the opportunities that suddenly appear and take your chances along the way.”
There is no magic formula to planning your career successfully though. As Alistair added, “When I look at my own experience, the diligence of properly thinking through what I want to do has certainly helped clarify what I am looking for, whether I can find it in my current employer and what specific steps I should take to achieve it.”
And even though those surprise opportunities may arise, still having a plan in place will help even if it means deviating away from it, as this gives you something to measure the new opportunity against.
By saying that there is always a certain level of risk involved when taking a chance but by planning and measuring new opportunities against your plan, this reduces the risk. Alistair concludes, “At the end of the day, nothing in history has ever been achieved without a degree of risk. It’s actually about managing the risk, not avoiding it.”
Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net
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