Why You Should Ditch Your Traditional Five-Year Career Plan

Why You Should Ditch Your Traditional Five-Year Career Plan

Spring cleaning is right around the corner. It’s time to refocus your energy, re-evaluate SWOTs (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), and take action steps toward reaching your career goals. While you are cleaning up, it is also time to crumble up your five-year plan and toss it in the trash.

Yes, you read that correctly.

When focusing on career advancement you should absolutely have a vision for your future but you don’t want to get caught up in over-planning your life. This oftentimes begins with the traditional five year plan.

There is no doubt that a five-year plan has its benefits, and sounds great when you are talking to professionals or your leadership team in the office. It makes you feel good to know you have a plan, and when it is written down on paper you can see it taking shape.

[Related: Setting Intentions: How to Get Your Desired Outcome]

With so much going on that is beyond your control, it is nearly impossible to know for sure what will happen in the next five years. A fixed five-year plan does not take into account the constant changes that you will experience in that amount of time. As you grow, develop, acquire new skills and stumble upon new dreams, it is important to have a personal career plan that works for you. Here are three tips for developing a plan tailored to your needs and goals:

1. Determine your vision and purpose: We are often taught to write down a list of our imagined career steps without first understanding our purpose. Figure out your purpose first, and then gain a clear understanding of what direction you want your career to take based off of this. The important thing to remember is to allow for flexibility.

2. Increase your network: Building new relationships and strengthening your existing base will help you to prepare for the future you want. Be strategic, and build structure out of your efforts to network. Start by jotting down a few names of people that you would like to network with and those with whom you recently met that may add value. Sometimes you don’t know what opportunities are out there or what jobs exist until you are having conversations with people. Remember, networking is about being of value to people as well. Don’t just look to receive information and leads. Be a resource.

3. Examine the short-term: It’s important to understand where you are today. Keeping a list of your daily tasks will provide clarity on what you’ve accomplished and allow you to reflect on things you have done well, plus things you may need to improve on. You can think of this as your “workplace or job diary.” This will take you beyond the stated job description and allow you to better evaluate what you enjoy doing and what you thoroughly can’t stand. Creating a list of the tasks that you love to do will help you to better align yourself with the career you want moving forward.

Daron Pressley (@daronpressley) is an entrepreneur and former Fortune 500 sales and marketing executive who has been featured on outlets including Fox45 News, Black Enterprise magazine, and The Washington Post. Knowledgeable in marketing and branding, Pressley works with professional athletes, organizations, and individuals to develop strategies to create, build, and grow brands. As a speaker Pressley has reached over 20,000 students. He provides dynamic insights on leadership and branding via his Website, DaronPressley.com