Having goals, ambition and knowing what you want is crucial to succeeding in your career. Without a clear pathway it can be difficult to decide what direction you want to go and what decisions you need to make along the way.

Creating a career plan is a great way to set out your goals and how you’ll reach them. Obviously, nothing is set in stone but it’s helpful to write down where you are now, where you want to be, and how you are going to get there.

Here are key steps to help you create your career plan.

Read also: 10 questions for work/life reflection

Read also: 10 important career lessons most people learn too late in life

Where you are now?

To get to where you want to be you need to know where you are now. Evaluate your current work situation and think about your personality, your preferences, your skills and your values. This is a good start to creating a career plan. Here are a few questions to kick things off:

  • What motivates me and what do I enjoy doing?
  • What are my personal attributes and lifestyle priorities?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do I look for in a job?

Where you want to be?

Based on your self-evaluation, your key interests, attributes, skills and experience, you can now start to formulate ideas on the type of roles/industries that you’d like to work in. Start by brainstorming all the ideas that come to mind. Eventually narrow these down by process of elimination based on a realistic look at your interests, skills and experience. Reflect on your skill set now as this will be an important indicator to help decide what direction you should go in.

How are you going to get there?

Now that you have an idea of where you want to go, it’s time to work out how you can get there. Ask yourself the following questions to help break down your goals into smaller, more manageable milestones for your career plan:

  • What do I want to achieve within the next 6, 12, 18 months?
  • How and when will I achieve my training and education goals?
  • How and when will I gain the additional skills and experience I need?
  • How can I expand my network, and by when?

Once you have established your goals and how to achieve them, you should have a clear pathway to follow. While it’s important to monitor the progress of your career plan and stay on track with your goals, it’s also okay to change direction when opportunities arise, re-evaluating your career plan based on changing economic and personal circumstances.

For more advice on managing your career and getting ahead, visit our career center now.

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