How do I create a 5-year career plan? In this day and age, with people getting into careers in a very roundabout way, is this still a good thing to do? – Erin in Dayton, OH
TINA: A 5-year career plan, in theory, is a very good thing. It can provide a balance to overarch your goals and dreams in a very finite manner. You may have a 5-year goal to become a senior executive in your company. You may have a 5-year plan to go back to school to get that advanced degree to enhance your career. Whatever your plans may be, this style provides a specific road map.
Others of us take a more indirect approach and find ourselves pulled or pushed in directions based on our interests and opportunities at the time. Our journey is through day-to-day short-term goals that tap into our imagination and envisioning our future. This is the path that worked for me.
It is important to follow your internal compass. It’s an individual decision and mechanism for how we determine our path. Understand yourself well enough to know if you want to follow direct goals and check them off, or if you prefer to meander to the end. It’s completely personal, and really depends upon your personality and the types of goals you have.
LYNN: Like Tina, I never created a 5-year career plan or considered putting one together. I stumbled into my career and then continued to pivot through the years. When opportunities presented themselves, I would take the chance, take the risk, and go for it. The transferrable skills acquired during my on-the-job experience were applied in each new role. Growing my thought leadership role and enhancing my position resulted in increased managerial responsibility and executive roles.
My advice is that if you have a very specific goal, then a 5-year career plan will be important. There are many careers that require specific steps and requirements you’ll need to follow. Even for those of you who do not have a rigid path, a 5-year career plan may help you envision where you want to go, and assist you to achieve that goal. Just remember to look for and seize the opportunities as they arise, as a pivot in your plan may be just what you need.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.