Completing the self-awareness and opportunity awareness activities in Career Planning should help you identify:
- likes and dislikes;
- skills and attributes; and
- strengths and weaknesses.
By being aware of these attributes you can use self-knowledge to your own advantage. The next step involves identifying career goals you can work towards.
Using a Portfolio
The portfolio can be a useful tool when planning your career. It enables you to look at your past history, the skills you have developed and your achievements. However, the portfolio should also be a tool for looking forward. Where do you want to go and how can you get there? The action plan provides a framework for planning.
The first step is to ensure that you have a clear objective or goal. Then start to think about what you might do to achieve it. This might seem straightforward — but many action plans fail because the objective is not clear at the outset.
- Be specific about the steps you’ll take to achieve your objective, e.g. not “I want to change my job” but “Today I will explore my career values and examine whether my present job or most recent role matches my values.”
- Ensure that there is a logical flow to the steps you intend to take, and be aware that one action step may have required you to plan an earlier one. For example, having identified your values, have you explored available opportunities?
- Decide when you will review your progress and write this milestone into your action plan. Assign dates for checking specific steps. It might be useful to put these in your diary or calendar to remind yourself of the steps.
- Be prepared to change your action plan if circumstances change, or if some of the steps don’t turn out as you expected.
A typical action plan involves:
- setting a goal;
- identifying what you have done to achieve this goal and steps you still need to take;
- setting review dates for the different steps and achievement of the final outcome; and
- indicating how you will evaluate successful completion.
Visit your portfolio and record what you have learned.
Activity: Letter to Myself
One useful way to assess how you’re doing with your action plan is to write yourself a letter. Detail the things you hope to have achieved in, say, three or six months.
Then give your letter to someone who can be relied upon to mail it at the allotted time. You will have probably forgotten all about it by the time your letter arrives. How do you feel on reading your plans? Delight or despair? How far have you moved towards achieving your goals or objectives?
Start writing to yourself now, then print the letter and hand it to a friend.