You may well have heard the phrase, “fail to plan, plan to fail” reeled off to you when you were in high school. There is a lot of truth in this. For example, if you don’t spend any time studying for an upcoming exam, you are likely to score badly. The same can be said for the world of business and professional development.

Many are going about their careers with the simple goals of working hard and trying not to upset any of their colleagues. But this type of thinking can prevent you from reaching your greatest potential. Opportunities will start to pass you by, and problems may begin to arise from your failure to develop any real professional vision. If you are serious about advancing in your business career, you need to develop a plan to succeed!

Where to Start with a Professional Development Plan

Pursuing change or advancement in your career can be an incredibly exciting thing, but it can also be daunting. Whenever we are looking to affect change in a season of our lives, we should always start with one simple spiritual discipline: prayer.

As you prepare to conjure up a plan of action for the next weeks, months or years, make sure you consider God’s will when forming your plan. Prayer will also remind you that you are not alone during those unnerving moments of uncertainty that are guaranteed to come at some point during your process!

What Do You Want?

You may be thinking that is an incredibly obvious question but it is also an important one. Before you embark on piecing together a plan for your future career, think carefully about your aspirations. What would be your dream job?

What would be the very best situation you could imagine in your current workplace? Brainstorm some ideas and get the basics straight in your mind. Whether you want to run as far away as possible from your current vocation, or whether you love your work and are simply keen to excel, this is a very worthy exercise to complete.

Set Your Main Goal

Making a plan is just the first step, the real work starts when you come to execute it. But in order to do this effectively, you need to set clear and well-articulated objectives. At this stage, just one central objective will suffice, so you must be absolutely certain that it is the correct one.

Perhaps you have an income figure in mind that you are determined to reach, a particular workplace environment you wish to be involved in, or maybe you desire a role that is focussed on helping others.

Whatever it is, endeavor to filter out a few of the various aims and try to land on one main objective, around which several other smaller goals can orbit. Indeed, the great thing about a well-structured plan is that it can be altered at any time according to your current goals.

Break It Down

When compiling your key objectives, it is absolutely essential that you break each one down into bitesize chunks, so to speak. Think logically about how you might achieve each objective, and research as best you possibly can.

For example, if you desire a career in the financial sector, grab some books, read some testimony of those who have spent years in the industry, and become a sponge for relevant information and expertise.

Perhaps you would consider taking an educational course in economics or investment banking. Don’t be shy – note down as many things as you can think of that would help you achieve your objective.

Once you have an extensive list of alternatives for meeting your key objectives, you can then convert this into a task list and eliminate the options that you are pretty certain you will never pursue. Through this pruning process, you will begin to understand more about your goals and your objectives will become more refined.

Costings

Once you have your list complete, you can start putting together a cost analysis for each option. For example, if you are aiming to complete a masters degree in business administration, you’d need to weigh up both the financial and relational cost that this would entail.

Obviously, if you’re married with kids, this is likely to be much more of a burden than if you are single with plenty of free time on your hands. If you are married, it is important to discuss your objectives with your spouse and to ensure that they are fully on board with any major decision you plan to take with regards to your professional development

Strain and stress will undoubtedly heighten as you work on achieving your professional objectives and be mindful that this is likely to affect those around you. So, while you must do your very best to stick to your schedule and goals, it would be wise to ensure there is some leeway given to maintaining stable and healthy relationships with your family and friends.

Indeed, it is important that you schedule and invest time not only for in your professional development but also in your friends and family. Plan ahead, piece together your schedule accurately and prioritize your commitments wisely.

Work On Your List

Retrieve your tasklist and chalk up the first ten tasks. Make a start! Push forward with achieving the things you set out to do. When you hit roadblocks, which you undoubtedly will keep going!

Be diligent and determined, but don’t rush. Take it at a steady pace so you don’t burn out. Productivity is of vital importance, but don’t let this encroach on obsession or overworking – the physical and personal effects will be highly detrimental to you and your family!

Finally, ensure that you take ample time to rest and reflect.

Review On a Regular Basis

Periodically return to your list and assess how you are getting on, ensuring that the goals and tasks you have set out are still likely to help you achieve your objective. We are constantly changing, and our environments are always shifting, so your list might need some subtle tweaking from time to time in order to be as cost-efficient and productive as possible – and that is OK.

There is no one-size-fits-all professional development plan because we are all unique individuals with different goals, aspirations, giftings, and callings. However, understanding your professional goals and carving out a concise and achievable plan really can be a life-changing first step in reaching your God-given potential.

With prayer, support, professional guidance and a whole lot of gritty determination, you will start to believe that, through a comprehensive career development plan, change really is possible and greater success is just around the corner.

Photos:
“Strategize,” courtesy of William Iven, unsplash.com, Public Domain License; “Sandbank,” courtesy of Ahmed Saffu, unsplash.com, Public Domain License; “Planning Session,” courtesy of rawpixel.com, pexels.com, CC0 License; “Growth,” courtesy of Meg Neilson, unsplash.com, Public Domain License

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