January is often the month when many people make unrealistic resolutions, only to break them in a few weeks. This month could be the first step on a new path, but only as long as your roadmap is realistic and sustainable. If you want to pivot in your career, then a well thought-out marketing plan should be your first step.
Just like a company’s marketing plan, your plan must contain the same key elements and rigour. If you take your personal development as seriously as a successful company, it will pay off. As you prepare your plan, consider the following:
Your aims: The first priority of any plan is to be clear about what you aim to achieve. Do you want to get promoted in your current job? Find a new one? Go to business school? Start a company? Each of these aims requires a different strategy, so decide what you want first and then plan on how to get there.
Your product: The product here is you, and while it can be hard to honestly reflect on yourself versus the competition, this is necessary to understand how to position yourself. Brands do this to decide which customer they must address and how to reach them. This step requires research, but LinkedIn makes this easy. Find the people who are doing the work you want to do and see what they were doing when they were at the same stage in their career as you. If you are missing a component, such as a language or a qualification, you can begin to address the shortfall.
Timeframe: Once you know what you want and what gaps to fill in order to achieve it, you have to set yourself a realistic timeline. Make sure to have regular milestones. It is no use saying, “In five years I will start a company,” if you have no idea what you are going to do in the next six months. Publically listed companies report their results on a quarterly basis and you could do the same thing – either to yourself or to your close network.
Budget: Think about how much you are willing to invest in this, not only in monetary terms, but also in terms of time and energy. If you acknowledge that what you are aiming for is tough, such as getting into a top tier business school or starting a company, then you can decide whether you are prepared for the inevitable stress and sacrifices ahead.
The job market has changed to become more unstable than ever, but it also provides opportunities previous generations did not have. Treating your career development with the same rigorous approach as a NYSE listed company will not be easy, but it will have impact. And if you’re reading this, you’re probably not the type to take the easy path anyway.
This article was originally posted on Forbes.com