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Tips for Career Advancement | How To Take Control Of Your Career and Career Plans

Updated on October 28, 2011

"Whatever your definition of success, it is your responsibility to figure out and execute a development plan to get there," advises well-respected executive recruiter and career expert Kathryn Ullrich, in her new book Getting to the Top Strategies for Career Success (Silicon Valley Press, June 2010).

Whether you are satisfied or frustrated with your current job, if you are thinking about “what’s next” in your career, then it is good time to step away from day-to-day routine work and spend quality time reflecting on your present career and develop some plans for your future. Making a proper career plan is similar to building a bridge from your current career to your next career. Without this bridge, you may easy lose your way or fall. Career plan gives you a sense of direction and self-assurance.

Here are the six basic steps to help you plan your career and take good control of it :

1. Develop your vision

· What type of position do you aim to achieve?

· Give an estimated date on when you want to achieve it.

· Where do you want to be in five years time ? in ten years time ?

· What are the potential career paths toward your vision ?

· What type of environment are you happiest in ?

· What kind of tasks are you happiest in performing them ?

· What kind of tasks bring out the potential in you ?

· What are your strengths and weaknesses?

· What are your current skills ?

· What types of skills will you need to move forward in the field or company you have chosen?

· Who are your competitors? Know them.

· What are the network of people you need to build ?

· What level of performance will you have to achieve to in order to be successful ?

Dream big, but be realistic at the same time.


2. Develop your action plan

· Plan for short- and long-term career plan or strategy.

· Plan for continuing education or self-improvement.

· Plan to work on your strengths or distinguishing skills

· Plan to master certain functional skills that are necessary to excel on the job

· Plan for building the right network of people.

While developing the action plan, bear in mind that it is important to develop realistic goals and objectives that you can accomplish in the near future. Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself to the extent that it paralyzes you from making any realistic choices, decisions and plans. An achievable realistic goal which brings about small step of success is an important milestone to long term success.

Additionally, career planning is a constantly changing and evolving process or journey, so be flexible and give yourself room for alteration and improvement. If you find yourself saying, “But, we’ve always done it this way,” then you may really be responding to fear of change. Opposite of fear is courage. Have the courage to challenge the norm for a better outcome.

3. Make a commitment to your success

· Always keep your vision in mind. Whatever you are doing, remember to work towards your goal.

· Be discipline, consistent and persistent as you work towards your goal.

Your success is determined to a certain extend by how committed you are in pursuing your goal. There may be risk involved in taking action to build your career. Some actions may require you to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to take risk and make mistakes. If you don’t try, you will never know what you will get.

4. Seek opportunities and take the challenges positively

· When opportunities arise, take the initiative and grab it.

· Do what is right, not what makes you feel good.

· Dare to ask for you want.

· Don’t keep your creativity or suggestion to yourself. Study it well and present it.

· When your suggestions are accepted, offer to take the lead in implementing it.

· Demonstrate your commitment to your boss.

· When challenges arise, don’t give up, stay strong and conquer them.

There can be times when you take the courage and do what is thought to be the best decision, only to find out later that you were so wrong. You are only human. Mistakes are part of everyone’s life. Be brave to admit the mistakes made. Those mistakes are great learning opportunities to treasure. Embrace them and choose to take different actions next time.

A person’s success and happiness depends a lot on the decision made based on your attitude. Fear and uncertainty may block a person from looking beyond their immediate circumstances. Positive attitude frees the mind, allowing creativity to flow to seek out and realize new opportunities. Instead of pointing out the flaw in a situation, seek out the opportunities to turn around the situation. Dwell not on what is wrong, but affirm instead on what is right.

5. Live a balanced lifestyle

· Activities after work are important to help you balance your life.

· Spend time with your family and friends.

· Spend time to keep yourself healthy mentally and physically.

· Healthy lifestyle is vital for your best performance in your job.

When we do different activities to promote different aspects of our health and well-being, we live a balanced lifestyle, and that includes time for work and leisure activities, time for physical activities, time for family time, time for rest and sleep, time for religion and spirituality, time for community, time for movie, music, arts, drama, and relaxation activities, and so on. A balanced lifestyle is vital in promoting overall health; that includes our physical, mental, emotional and social well-being. However, attempting to live a balanced lifestyle is an interesting experience. For many, attempting to live a balanced life may result in greater stress. Then, there are others who are overly focused in one part of their lives while neglected in others, and ultimately result in increased stress, unhappiness and health problems in their lives. So, the question is, what are we trying to balance here? The answers lie in continuous improvement in time-management, self-management, career and leisure management. And be flexible and adaptive. When we improve, we grow.

6. Build Network

· Never eat lunch alone. Invite your colleagues.

· Be your own public relationship manager.

· With subtleness, let others know your capabilities, accomplishments and dreams while appreciate other’s abilities at the same time.

· Attending function outside the workplace is also vital for you to align with your team, peers, boss, customers, and partners through proper communication skills.

However, building network should not be a one-way request with only your goals in mind. A healthy networking should always be a two-way interaction, where people help each other to reach their target or goal. Hence, before you ask something from your colleague or friend, start thinking about how you can contribute to their needs. It is always better to give without expecting something in return. Later in life, when you are in need of help, your friend and colleague will think of helping you in return.


An individual career plan is actually a road map to get you from point A to point B, for example, from choosing an occupation to becoming employed in that occupation. It even helps you get past Point B, to Points C through Z, as you grow in that career.

If you have a vision of your career direction, it’s a good idea to take some time out to think through what will be needed to make your career plans work out. Work is essentially a fundamental aspect of our life, the decisions we make will inevitably impact on our lifestyle and happiness, so forward-planning are useful in enriching our career, helping us to meet our personal targets.

Plan your career now; it is a worthwhile step to ensure your future happiness.


The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are owned by Ingenira who hereby asserts her copyright on the material. Permission must be granted by the author in writing prior to copy or republish this article in print or online. However, please feel free to copy the first paragraph with a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Ingenira 2010


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