Chart A Course, Have A Plan

There’s a reason why freightliners and cargo ships chart their courses through the open sea – it’s a big and unfamiliar world out there and without direction, it’s easy to get lost. When it comes to building or modifying a career path, the same logic applies. Create a plan, and you’ll have more success. Even if it’s small and informal, a plan will give you a better sense of direction and establish milestones that will keep you on track along the way. Having a plan also means staying focused and setting priorities. Start by taking a 3 by 5 index card and write down what you hope to accomplish in order of priority.

Understand Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses

Part of navigating your way forward involves knowing where you currently stand. That means taking a minute to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses – as honestly as you can. Start by defining your value system. What is important to you? What people or events have had the biggest impact on your life and why? Who do you respect the most, in business and in your personal life? What makes you happy and sad? Answering these questions will help define your value set so you can more clearly identify where you are the strongest, and where you may need some improvement, as well as the values that will guide your happiness.

Create Your “Pie Chart” Of Life

Unfortunately, no one can be an “A” player at everything, and that’s probably a good thing. But with that in mind, it’s helpful to sit down and create a pie chart. This pie chart will graphically show the percentages of your life that you devote to all major activities. Decide what should take the highest priority, whether its work, family, hobbies, fitness, etc. and map out the percentages. Accept that there will be some lower priorities. The key is balance and knowing where you can make the sacrifice. With the completed pie chart in front of you, it’s easier to set realistic goals that you can reach and to know where to focus your efforts.

Being truthful to yourself in terms of what you want to do and how you want to get there begins with a solid plan. Gather some information from yourself and others and prioritize what is important to you. It’s the first step in charting a successful career path and the easiest way to put your best foot forward.