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Why you need a roadmap for your career

If you’ve ever tried to drive somewhere new without a roadmap or a route plan, you’ll know that, while instinct and intuition will get you so far you can end up wasting a lot of time going the wrong way, having to do three point turns in dead ends and realising you’ve driven past that particular land mark three times already, before you finally give up and end up either back where you started or somewhere else completely.

And so it is with your career – if you don’t have a plan or a roadmap you can end up feeling stuck, lost or plain frustrated. This can be the case whether you want to change career completely or develop your current career further. It can, however, be quite simple to develop a plan that you can work with and which will get you moving in the right direction.

Step 1: Create some space for thinking about your overall career goal. This could be an aspirational goal – what do you want to be doing in 3-5 years? Or if could be a more immediate career move.

Step 2: Take a large sheet of paper and write your career goal in the centre. Be specific, for example, ‘Be Head of Department/Director’ or ‘Be Senior specialist in ….’ Or ‘Be Lead Consultant for xxx’ or ‘Be running my own business in  xxx’.

Step 3: Now you need to identify the sub goals that will help you achieve your main goal. These sub goals could be from the following categories:

  • Experience – thinking about your overall goal is there a gap in your work experience for example, have you managed people or projects? Identify what you’re missing.
  • Skills – are there particular skills you need to develop in order to be shortlisted for your ultimate job? Identify particular skills you are going to need.
  • Expertise – how can you build your reputation in your field? This sub goal could be about being perceived as an expert or specialist, or it could be becoming known for delivery, innovation or performance.
  • Personal Development – what do you need to work on in order to achieve your goal – this could be confidence, presence, networks, etc
  • Personal – this is personal to you but could be working more flexibly, getting better work life balance or getting more enjoyment and satisfaction from work and home.
  • Job Search  – how are you going to approach the external jobs market?

Step 4: Arrange your sub goals, mind map style around your main goal. You might have between 4-6 sub goals as not all the categories above will be relevant.

This is the beginning of your roadmap – you’ve identified your destination and all the stops along the way.

Step 5: Now you can get into all the nitty gritty – break down your all sub goals into tasks and actions. For example, if one of your subgoals is to get some people management experience, then your actions could be to talk to your current manager about opportunities to supervise another member of staff or do some matrix management, or it could also be to take on a volunteering role in your spare time that involves elements of people management, and/ or it might be to investigate courses that will enable you to understand management theory and principles.

Step 6: Now assign timescales to all your actions and goals. You can now create an action plan identifying the actions by weeks and months. Breaking it down in this way and seeing it planned out stops you feeling overwhelmed and will give you a sense of progress as you work through your plan.

You should now be feeling clearer and more motivated to achieve your goal. Having goals and pathways to achieve them is one of the keys to feeling confident about any change you’re going to make in your career.

For more info or support with developing your career plan contact me on [email protected]


Photo courtesy of DenysNevozhai,

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