Yogi Berra once said, "If you don't know where you are going you could end up somewhere else." It might sound like obvious advice but planning is something most people don't put enough thought into - at least not in the right way. If you're just starting a career path or you're looking for a change here are a few thoughts on how to start planning for the future that will save you time energy and maybe even a few wrong turns along the way.
Chart A Course Have A Plan
There's a reason why Freightliner and cargo ships chart their courses through the open sea - it's a big and unfamiliar world out there and without direction, it's easy to get lost. When it comes to building or modifying a career path the same logic applies. Create a plan and you'll have more success. Even if it's small and informal a plan will give you a better sense of direction and establish milestones that will keep you on track along the way. Having a plan also means staying focused and setting priorities. Start by taking a 3 by 5 index card and write down what you hope to accomplish in order of priority.
Understand Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses
Part of navigating your way forward involves knowing where you currently stand. That means taking a minute to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses - as honestly as you can. Start by defining your value system. What is important to you? What people or events have had the biggest impact on your life and why? Who do you respect the most in business and in your personal life? What makes you happy and sad? Answering these questions will help define your value set so you can more clearly identify where you are the strongest and where you may need some improvement as well as the values that will guide your happiness.
Create Your "Pie Chart" Of Life
Unfortunately, no one can be an "A" player at everything and that's probably a good thing. But with that in mind, it's helpful to sit down and create a pie chart. This pie chart will graphically show the percentages of your life that you devote to all major activities. Decide what should take the highest priority whether it's work-family hobbies fitness etc. and map out the percentages. Accept that there will be some lower priorities. The key is balance and knowing where you can make the sacrifice. With the completed pie chart in front of you, it's easier to set realistic goals that you can reach and to know where to focus your efforts. Being truthful to yourself in terms of what you want to do and how you want to get there begins with a solid plan. Gather some information from yourself and others and prioritize what is important to you. It's the first step in charting a successful career path and the easiest way to put your best foot forward.