Creating a Career Plan

Yesterday I talked about career planning and goal setting in a general way. If you’re going to approach writing as a career, rather than a hobby that pays you on occasion, then you need a plan. How will you know if you’re a success if you haven’t defined what success means? Just remember that my definition of success will be different than your definition–and that’s the way it should be.

Knowing you should have a plan is one half of the job; creating that plan is the other half. There are myriad ways to create a career plan and opinions will differ on which way is best. The bottom line is, use the method that works for you. What I use isn’t revolutionary, nor did I invent it. All it is, is the method that works for me.

How to Create Your Career Plan

  1. Be honest with yourself.
    This is your career. Don’t worry about what someone else thinks you should do or achieve, or what any other writer is doing. They don’t matter; you do.
  2. Create Long-Term Objectives
    Where do you want your writing career to be in 5 years? In 10?
    The further out you create your objectives, the more fluid and subject to change they will be, but they’re still important to write down.

    I think of my long-term objectives as my “dream prizes.” I know there are factors beyond my control that will no doubt affect whether these objectives are ultimately achievable. Having these objectives written down, however, motivates me, even when I’m not consciously thinking about them.

  3. Create Medium-Term Objectives
    Where do you want your career to be in 2 to 3 years?
    These objectives should be more concrete and limited in scope than your long-term objectives. They may change, but at the time you write them down they should be things that seem very achievable if everything goes right. Achieving these should put you firmly on the path to achieving your long-term career objectives.

    I think of my medium-term objectives as my strategic plan. These are the things I want to achieve that I see as being just out of my grasp–the things that will make me have to stretch to attain them.

  4. Create Short-Term Objectives
    Where do you want your career to be at the end of the year?
    These objectives will be the most specific and limited in scope of all, and they will be the basis for your yearly goals. Achieving these will move you several steps closer to achieving your medium-term career objectives.

    I think of my short-term objectives as my focused target, like the bull’s-eye in the center of a dart board or archery target. These are the objectives I’m focused on for the year. They are the objectives that are least likely to change for me (though they can be changed, if circumstance dictates).

  5. Revisit and Revise Your Career Plan Regularly
    How often you revisit your career plan is up to you. I try to look at mine at least every six months or so, though I don’t always remember to do so. However, when I do revisit my plan on a regular basis, I find I’m much more successful than when I ignore it.

That’s all there is to it! Come on, admit it, that wasn’t so bad, was it? There’s something rather exciting in thinking about your career–your life–in such concrete terms, don’t you think?

Tomorrow I’ll talk about setting goals to help you achieve the objectives in your career plan.