Common Mistakes When Creating a Career Plan

You’ve decided to create a career plan. You think through your career goals, the progress you have made towards those goals, and your uncertainties about the next steps towards moving closer to those goals.

You begin to construct a well-formed career plan that includes what you know you need for this stage of your life. If you are like many others, however, the chances are that at least one or more of these common mistakes will be included in your plan. Avoiding these common pitfalls may help ensure that you don’t lose momentum during the planning process.

In this post, we’ll outline some of the most common mistakes people make when creating a career plan, and we’ll give you some tips on how to avoid them! So read on, and get started on your career planning today!

woman writing in paper

Mistakes When Creating a Career Plan

Choosing your career without considering your passion

Many people believe they should choose their career based on market demand or trends identified by experts or other sources. Some pay attention to advice from their spouse or parents. Others base their decision on what is safe or what they believe will be financially stable.

While these may all be important factors in the career choice, make sure you are choosing a career because you are passionate about it. 

Your passion can guarantee your dedication to achieving new goals and providing quality work that benefits others while allowing you to feel fulfilled in some way. A lack of passion guarantees that your efforts towards success will likely fall short of expectations or even fail completely.

Not taking time to refine your goal

You have already identified some long-term goals for this stage of life. You create a plan including each step needed to get there. You are confident that you have all the necessary elements to achieve your goal. 

However, if you don’t spend time to refine your goal further, there is a good chance that after some time has passed, you may realize that your career path is not taking you where you really want to go or was unsure about where it wanted to go in the first place.

Modify your long-term goals, so they align with each other for maximum benefits and less conflict. For instance, instead of one long-term goal to become an accountant earning $40,000 per year by next year, set separate goals for becoming an accounting clerk making $30,000 per year within six months then moving up into accounting earning $40,000 later on. 

By breaking down your long-term goal into smaller milestones, you can be sure to identify exactly what you need to do next and celebrate the small successes along the way.

Not thinking through your plan’s components

Don’t forget that a career plan is not just a list of steps you want to take. You also will need to include information on accessing opportunities, additional resources needed on the way, and potential stumbling blocks on the path. 

This is where some people get stuck because they either don’t know what needs to be researched, or they forget things as time goes by. If this sounds like you, try keeping a journal or an electronic file so whenever an idea pops into your head related to something specific in your plan, write it down. 

When you are ready to update your career plan, just review what you have written down. This may be the most important step in creating your plan because details you forget today could cause big problems if they remain unresolved tomorrow.

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Not considering your work-life balance

Many people work long hours at their jobs, then come home and spend more time on household chores or child care duties before turning in for the night. By planning a career path that doesn’t account for work-life balance, this cycle of nonstop activity continues until it becomes an issue with your health or family life.

When designing your career plan, make sure you include enough flexibility to accommodate other aspects of your life besides work. 

If necessary, adjust activities within each of the components of your plan, so more time is allocated to things like spending quality time with family, friends, and other people who are important to you.

Obsessing over detailed plans

An easy trap to fall into is trying to make everything as detailed as possible because then you will feel prepared for whatever life throws at you. 

However, there are many factors that cannot be planned for ahead of time, including how competition might impact your ability to secure a job or if shifting economic trends may create unforeseen opportunities in different industries.

Unless you have already experienced these unpredictable changes firsthand during previous career decisions, do not let them discourage you from making significant plans on paper today. Instead, use some general guidelines within each component of your career plan, so you are not left with everything up to chance when you have no idea how many variables are in play.

Not integrating recommendations into your career plan

If you ever read anything about achieving your goals, then most likely, making use of recommendations is one piece of advice that continues to resurface with each article, blog post, or book. 

Even though doing the same thing over and over again may seem boring, taking advantage of recommendations within your career plan can be a huge help because it adds variety to what you would normally do on your own. 

These suggestions could include asking friends for their insights on job leads you haven’t considered yet or contacting members of an industry group who might know about upcoming events where landing a new position is possible.

Even if you aren’t sure how to approach people with these requests, save them in a special file on your computer or carry a notebook with you so whenever inspiration strikes, you can jot down some notes. Keep this material organized because it could be the difference between feeling inspired and staying stuck in neutral.

women at a meeting

Not using your plan often enough

Many years ago, I overheard one woman talking about how she had redesigned her entire career plan but only looked at it once per year during her birthday month. 

The reason why these annual reviews are popular is that they give you an opportunity to reevaluate what is working well, what new goals need to be added, and whether everything on the plan still seems relevant.

However, if this sounds tedious to you, then consider quarterly reviews where you update your plan after three months have been completed. In addition to rereading each component of the career plan, take note of any progress that has been made toward the original goals listed because this proves you are still making an effort towards reaching them.

Focusing on making money instead of contribution

People sometimes forget it may be more important for their career path to focus on something they enjoy rather than a position that pays a generous salary. 

If you were asked by a friend who was trying to decide between two possible jobs if one paid more money but didn’t seem as interesting as the other, which would you recommend? Most people would probably suggest going with a job that offered less pay if it enabled them to do something fulfilling because that is what they would want for themselves.

Even if you are not interested in doing the right thing, keep in mind how your work ethic could change drastically if you were actually passionate about your career path. 

Without this type of excitement, it may be hard to achieve ambitious goals because you will tend to take shortcuts or skip certain tasks completely when working on a project that feels like “just another day at the office.”

Mistakes are a part of life. That’s why it is important to be honest with yourself about where you think your strengths lie and what type of career path you want to take, as well as the mistakes that might happen along the way. 

Learn to create an actionable career plan! Sign up for career development courses at Skill Success.

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