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Do you have a career plan? If you don’t, you really should. But it’s hard to know where to start if you haven’t crafted one for yourself in the past. Here’s how to create a career development plan and map out what you are trying to achieve during your career!

Write It Down

Writing down your goals helps to solidify them in your mind and in your life. A plan gives your career goals a more tangible and real place in your life. If you have a spot in your home or workspace where you turn to for inspiration, then that is a great place to keep a hard copy of your plan. This helps keep your challenging aspirations at the front of your mind.

Goals are little more than daydreams if you don’t have a plan to achieve them. Goal setting is a dynamic and constantly changing activity. You need to be able to think through the steps you need to take to achieve your goal and constantly evaluate your progress. Set up regular reminders and check-ins for yourself to make sure you are on the right track.

Get S.M.A.R.T.

SMART goals are goals which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound. This is particularly true for challenging goals, because this method helps you make sure you are committed and held accountable to your goals. Be specific about what you want to achieve with a particular goal. Make sure that you are able to measure your success or failures in what you do throughout the year. Keep in mind that attainability is critical, especially for challenging goals, because if you give up on a big goal because it’s unrealistic, then you are less likely to be motivated toward other challenging goals. Make sure that your goal is relevant to your life and your work. And give yourself and your goal a schedule and stick to it.

Set Goals that Motivate and Inspire You

When it comes to evaluating your career path, it’s important to be honest about where you are and where you want to be. Setting smaller, achievable goals is a good tactic to get you through your workday or month, but you also need something big to aim for so that you are inspired in the long term. Set challenging goals that make you want to get out of bed in the morning, do your best work, and celebrate when you achieve your smaller goals. Focus on achievements that are important to you and that you will value in the long run, rather than just reasonable achievements that help you get your work done. Don’t focus on goals that are completely unreasonable or which have no clear path to achievement. But don’t sell yourself short by setting a goal that you have no vested interest in the outcome either. Make it a priority and go to work every day with that goal at the top of your mind.

Career development takes time and consistent effort. It is a process built on the stepping stones of thoughtful planning and actions taken to live your values and achieve your goals. Start thinking about your career in this way and see what changes you can make to help yourself move forward in a meaningful way.

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