4 critical pieces for executing your career plan

Execution is crucial. After all, we can daydream about a future career path, but until action is taken, it will remain a dream. If you’ve been following along with my blog, you have assessed yourself and found paths to pursue. You have conducted research and tested your assumptions.  You have selected a direction for your next move. Now, you are ready to implement your career plan.  

This blog series continues, this link will take you to the first one by addressing each chapter of The Purple Parachute: A Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Winds of Career Change. At this point in the process, we have come to the E in the A.S.T.E.R. Model, which stands for Execute. It’s time to implement your career blueprint (Chapter Ten). 

Usually, a career plan will involve one of three paths or a combination of them.  

1) Develop in place – This term refers to the idea of staying where you are but changing your role in some way. If you like the company you work for and have been there a long time, adapting your work responsibilities or moving to another place within the organization can help you retain seniority as you seek a better job fit.  

2) Start your own business – Chapter Ten of The Purple Parachute shares resources to help you explore entrepreneurship. It includes a list of questions to ask yourself before starting a business, along with resources to help you make this important decision.  

3) Get a job – This could involve changing employers or reentering the workforce. Because job search has a lot of moving parts, it has its own chapter (Chapter Eleven) and will be addressed in the next book blog.  

Regardless of your employment goal, four interrelated constructs must be in place for you to be successful. All four items involve some sort of planning. How you implement each of these components may vary based on your individuality. As you know from Chapter Four, people have different planning preferences. Honor your authentic self and adjust your implementation according to your style while holding yourself accountable. There is a plethora of information available on these four topics, so I will only cover the main points below.  

1) Goal setting

My goal setting guidance is general because people may want to customize their implementation methods. Nevertheless, almost all goal setting involves similar steps. Set a long-term goal. Break it down into short-term goals. Monitor them and evaluate your progress at regular intervals. Adjust your plan as needed.  

Put your goal on the record to keep yourself accountable. You could write it down or tell others you trust. Have it easily visible for you to reconnect with your goal regularly. Sometimes, deciding on the goal can be the hardest part. But if you don’t decide on something, you won’t take intentional steps toward your aspiration. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Researching the feasibility of your vision can be the first step in your plan.  

2) Structure

Structure can be very important for getting things done. Routines and well-structured systems can help with productivity, balance, and boundaries. Organizing your life encourages you to be proactive and intentional. It helps you find time to do important things because you have a system. Structure may not look the same for everyone and that’s OK. Implement the structure of your career plan in a way that honors your style and values.  

For better or worse, having a job that requires regular attendance forces structure into your life. When you are unemployed, you can feel unanchored. When your job ends suddenly, you abruptly lose your routine. Even if you have scheduled your retirement date, it will still be a challenge to create a new life with a different structure.  

3) Time management

Time management and structure are closely tied together. Good structure allows for efficient time management because you know where to fit in short-term tasks. Plotting out your projects will give you a more realistic timeline for achieving your long-term goals.  

The first key point about time management is understanding your energy and its cycles. We all have times of the day/week/year when we are energetic or sluggish. Understand how your energy ebbs and flows and plan your work accordingly. Utilize high energy times for tougher, time-consuming tasks.   

The second most important facet of time management is setting boundaries. People will use your time if you let them. Learning to say no to requests that are not tied to your long-term plan is critical to achieving your goal. Guard your time preciously.  It is not infinite.   

4) Networking

I will keep this point short because soon I will write about this topic in more depth. Networking is covered in Chapter Thirteen and will be the final blog post in this series.  

Regardless of your career goal, you will need to network. No one succeeds alone in a vacuum. Whether you are starting a business, seeking a new job, or merely trying to manage your career intentionally, you will need to initiate and grow connections with other humans. You can add structure to your efforts, such as I will meet two new people a month. Or you can let it happen organically but over time, you should increase the number of people who know who you are.  Strive for quality over quantity.  

The four key factors shared above are critical to your professional success. Your career plan might include getting a new job, starting your own business, or developing in place. No matter which paths you choose, you will need to set realistic goals, create structure, manage time well, and network to create opportunities and support. Find the best way to address these four aspects into your career plan implementation, and please let me know if I can help you with any aspect of achieving your career goals.  


P.S.  The early bird rate for my next Gain Clarity for Your Next Career Change class ends on July 2nd, and registration closes on July 9th.  Sign up today to save!