“Relax— It will all work out, my company loves me” simply isn’t true for a career. We have to make things work for ourselves, trying to adopt a positive outlook towards your career without any preparation can backfire.

Career plans are created at the start of the year and then put on the back burner till the year-end or next formal performance appraisal. Most of them remain irrelevant and rarely benefit the employee. Use this cheat sheet to check if you are in control of your career or not?

Is your career plan still relevant?

The world economy is undergoing major changes and global cycles are shorter and deeper, it may make sense to validate some of your goals against the economic reality, industry needs and your current job responsibility. Don’t get me wrong, it does not mean changing the goals every six months; however course correction is beneficial. The trick is to keep your career plans relevant and they should reflect the skills and capabilities you want / need to build in a world that is constantly changing.

Dara Khosrowshahi CEO of Expedia says – “Look for the right opportunities, stay flexible, have some idea of what direction you are headed in, but don’t lock into a long-term direction because chances are that the world will change up on you. ”

Do you have a new manager?

In case you have a new manager it may be better to run your career plan with him/ her, make sure that your bosses know that the current plan has been set in consultation with your old manager and you would review the progress quarterly. It’s always good to align the thoughts / goals of your manager with the plan.

Does it incorporate recent developmental feedback?

You may have gained new insights into your working style that helps you see your strengths and limitations holistically. In case the recent feedback is important for you to grow in your career, make sure you incorporate it in the career development plan.

Is the Career plan achievable in the time frame set by you?

What is the fun in setting goals that are not achievable in a set time in spite of burning midnight oil and sacrificing personal time Take a tough look at the timelines; you can increase the pace over a period of time. My advice would be to start slow and build momentum on the way; a great career is marathon and not a sprint race. Experts advise that it’s best to optimize career plans for the next one to two years instead of the next five or ten.

Prepare in advance for any career related discussion.

If you fail to plan and you plan to fail. Most of the employees feel that they are in the grip of their career plans and walk in unprepared for the career review meeting with their managers.  As a result, the discussions are generally vague with a lot of feel-good factor and no solid action. Knowing your manager very well cannot be the excuse for not having prepared for the meeting.

Make optimum usage of resources at hand

Both time and money are scarce resources in the modern corporate world. Take the time to review your manager’s coaching efforts to date, and see if they are aligned with your career development plan. If you wish to make changes to your development plan, you should be prepared to discuss how your manager can chip in.

Must Read: How To Set Your Goals This Year

Make sure that your career plan balances current performance expectations with future career aspirations and pushes you to build on your strengths.

Like it or not, there will be resources, which you would desperately need to do your job well and get ahead in career, there are high chances that you may never get, them, maybe due to economic factors or your manger’s unstated constraints. Make best use of what’s readily available and not what you continue to fight for. Successful people make a career out of what they have on hand and seldom squander energy on what they cannot have

You are responsible for proactively ensuring that your career development is in line with your own career aspiration and more than anything it will keep you employable in the long term.

Jappreet Sethi

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