Imagine you’re going on a vacation. You’ve spent months researching your destination. You have a detailed itinerary of everything you plan to do when you arrive. The excitement is building, and it’s almost time to go.
But you don’t just show up to the airport and board a plane. A lot of planning has gone into this trip – from the airline you chose to fly to the hotel you selected to the restaurants you’ll eat at. You worked with a budget. You made detailed packing lists. You probably arranged for someone to water the plants and bring in the mail while you’re gone. And all of this had to happen to make the vacation successful.
Your career is no different. It’s not enough to have a destination in mind – you need a plan for how you’ll get there. Your success depends on knowing what you truly want to accomplish before you begin setting goals and pursue achieving them in the new year.
Running your career without a strategic administrative career plan is like hopping a plane to Paris without any preparation whatsoever. Sure, it’s fun to live in the moment, but when you realize you’re thousands of miles from home without so much as a place to stay or a change of clothes, you’ll wish you’d made a plan.
Your administrative career should not be left to chance. Career-minded administrative professionals don’t put their career on autopilot and cross their fingers, hoping things will work themselves out. They create a proactive strategic plan that lays out the details, timelines, and desired outcomes not only to reach goals, but to propel their careers forward. It keeps you on track. It keeps you from wasting time and effort. It keeps you from missing key ingredients. It sets you up for success.
As we (finally!) near the end of 2020, goal setting is on a lot of people’s minds, and creating a strategic career plan will help you better prepare to accomplish the goals you set for yourself, make transitions to new opportunities, and give you a renewed excitement for your career path overall.
But this isn’t an activity you do once and put it on the shelf. Strategic career planning is an ongoing process that you will revisit frequently. And this is the perfect time of the year to pull your old one out and refresh it or create a brand new plan. This can also be a valuable tool to help you prepare for the annual performance review process that occurs at many companies at the turn of the year.
As you assess what you accomplished this year and figure out where you want to go next year, it’s important to acknowledge, document, and celebrate the successes of the past year – including the things that didn’t start out as a formal goal. Then you can easily identify where you need to focus your efforts in the new year as you set your goals for what you want to achieve.
Here’s how to do this:
- Review your goals from the past year and check off the ones you’ve accomplished.
- Add any accomplishments that weren’t on your list. Those things are still important, even if they weren’t part of the original path you set out on.
- Ask yourself these questions to help jog your memory about other achievements from the past year:
• Did you attend any professional development training? (in person, online, by phone)
• Did you read any career building or skills boosting books?
• Did you learn any new skills?
• Did you take on any new roles or responsibilities in your job?
• Did you participate in any professional networking activities?
• Did you volunteer for any special projects?
• Did you create any new procedures or systems for your office?
• Did you learn any new software or technologies?
• Did you develop your leadership skills?
• Did you mentor or help another colleague achieve a goal?
• Did you update your resume, professional portfolio, and other vital career documents?
• Did you deliver any presentations or speeches?
• Did you develop any new contacts in your professional network?
• What were the highlights of the year for you? Why?
• What was your proudest moment? Why?
When you have this list assembled, it gives you a positive list of successes and accomplishments that will help motivate you to pursue your goals for the coming year with renewed energy and enthusiasm. And it gives you insights into what you might want to include in your plan of action and goals for the upcoming year.
This exercise is also an awesome way to prepare for your annual performance review. If you haven’t been tracking your accomplishments throughout the year, this gives you some great material to create an impressive list of accomplishments, as well as new goals to set for yourself in 2021. Make sure you share this with your executive in advance of your annual review so they know exactly what you’ve accomplished as well.
There’s no room in your career for chance. Don’t let someone else dictate your path, and don’t get so hyper focused on your destination that you forget to map out everything it will take to get there. Make a conscious choice to plan, grow, and succeed. Keep the positive momentum going and set yourself up for success in 2021!
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.