motivational handwriting on a napkin

Sometimes it’s hard to think about the future.

In fact, many of us feel intimidated by the question: “where do you see yourself in five years?”

It’s stressful enough choosing where you want to eat dinner – let alone figuring out your long-term career plan.

But, experts say having a plan is essential to success. It’s a way to turn your hopes and dreams into actionable tasks and make them a reality, ultimately leading to job satisfaction.

A plan can also help you clarify career goals, discover what motivates and inspires you, and help you find the right job that matches your strengths. According to a 2017 Gallup poll, nearly 51 percent of employees feel “disengaged” at work and another 17 percent resent their jobs.

Don’t let that be you!

Set aside some time to determine what’s important to you in your career and how you will make that happen.

Here’s how to start a five-year plan:

Big Picture

Identify your end goal or “macro” goal – which is what you ultimately want to accomplish by the end of the five years and write it down. Be specific. If you want to be an art director, say so! Don’t settle on “get a job in the media business.” If you already love the company you work for, but want to be in management, put that down. This is the time to think carefully about what is important to you in your career.

Explore Your Options

Ask yourself if you have the proper education and training to reach your goal. If not, what are you going to do about it? How can you augment your education and training to get you where you want to be? What are the options available to someone with your degree or experience? If you aren’t sure what the answers are, consider reaching out to successful colleagues or mentors and ask them for advice. If you don’t know who to ask, Executive Recruiters here at The Lee Group are always available to help you with your career goals!

Get Busy!

Once you’ve set and identified ways you can enhance your education and skills, start making smaller goals that you can assign to each year and identify how you will reach them. For example: if the position you want requires additional schooling or technical skills, you can set a goal for the first year to take a few courses college courses. In year two, you could focus on volunteering to gain more experience in your desired field, and so on. This step could also be as simple as checking out a book from your local library to learn about new computer software or shadowing an executive in your field to gain experience – it all depends on the career path you envision for yourself.

Stay on Track

Make career planning a regular event. Once you’ve penned a five-year plan, don’t let it collect dust in your file folder. Experts suggest reviewing it every six months to help keep yourself on track or to allow for updates if your goals change. If you’ve veered off track, make the necessary adjustments to your goals and keep at it.

While no plan is perfect and there are no absolutes, creating a five-year plan will help prepare you for a successful future, and the next time someone asks you where you see yourself in five years, you just might have an answer for them.

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