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How to Plan a Successful Career in 5 Steps

How to Plan a Successful Career in 5 Steps

You’re probably thinking no one can actually plan for success. Success is something that just happens. And yes, it is true that a simple plan doesn’t guarantee success, but it is what gives us direction. And if we know the place we’re planning to reach is good, we’ll work harder to get there.

Here are 5 steps you can take to ensure your career is headed for success:

  • Set goals

What use is a plan if you don’t have any goals? Saying, “In 2 years I want to be earning $65,000 annually” gives you something to work for. Setting goals and knowing what you want in the long term helps to advance your career in that direction.


There are no rules to what your goals can be. They can be simple ones like buying a car or fanciful ones like winning the Grammy. But if achieving them is important to you, you can bet your work will have a purpose, and that purpose is what will drive your career forward.

  • Know your skills

As the saying goes – the only thing constant in life is change. It’s a well-known fact that the average American changes careers 5-7 in their lifetime. So a skill for operating a crane may not add value to a resumé if all construction in the area has ceased.


‘Transferable skills’ seems to be the magic phrase of today’s workforce. Employers want employees who bring transferable skills like leadership, planning and public speaking to the table, no matter what their previous job. Even typing is a transferable skill. If you have experience as a secretary, you can easily transition to a profession like court stenography or medical transcription. The career change is made easier by institutions like Career Step that offer 4-6 month-long programs to train you for career success.

  • Invest in your hobbies

It is definitely useful to have a wide, adaptable skill set. And often these skills develop from engaging in one’s hobbies and interests. If you love reading fiction, traveling or playing basketball, you eventually find that you can imagine creative scenarios, understand different worldviews and function as a team member.

Investing in your hobbies not only gives you a break from work, but it might even help you develop unique skills that employers and colleagues can benefit from. Not only that, but someday your hobby could turn itself into a career!

  • Keep track of career trends

Do your homework. If you’re looking to succeed in a career or particular job field, keep up to date with its changes and developments. Make sure you have the answers to 3 questions:

  • What skills are employers in that field looking for?
  • What do employees in that field currently earn?
  • What potential does the field offer for your career growth?

This knowledge will help keep you on track and implement changes in your plan if necessary.

  • Reevaluate

Career planning is not effective if you do just once. Make it a point to annually or biannually reassess your goals, skills and hobbies. You should ask yourself questions like:


  • Have my goals/priorities changed? Do I have more goals to add?
  • What achievements have I made so far?
  • Do I still see a future in this field?
  • What further skills do I need to develop?
  • Am I happy with what I’m doing?

Reevaluating is a means to track your progress. It will help you see if you are where you wanted to be and whether or not you need to make any changes to your game plan. It is the best way to ensure that your career is syncing up with what you had in mind while drawing up your career plan.

Making a career plan is one of those things that everyone should do. It is an excellent tool that makes certain you’re aiming true towards your idea of success. Whatever that may be, a career plan pushes you to achieve it.

About Karen Durkins

Your very own guiding light for all-things-business. Personal Finance advisor by profession, career counselor by choice – always happy to help!

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