• Lindi Engelbrecht

Six Ways A Career Development Plan Can Help You Achieve Fulfilment in Your Career

A professional career development plan can be instrumental in achieving your career objectives.

If you're pondering how you're going to get where you want to be in your career, there are some simple steps you can take that will help you create your own career development plan.

You can also look back at our previous article on "Own your Career Development - 7 Tips" (here)

Let's not be confused by the word “simple." Sometimes the simplest of concepts or steps can be tough to do because they require some intense thinking and effort. Yet, your think time and effort are an investment in your future and career happiness, which make it all very worthwhile to plan your career growth today.

A professional career development plan can be instrumental in achieving your career objectives. Of the many career development tools on offer, this is probably the most valuable.

1. Research Suggests a Professional Career Development Plan Will Work

There is evidence to suggest that planning in any area of our life produces better results than if we don't plan. I used to be involved in gymnastics. And for quite some time I would finish in the top four or five place getters but could never finish first until I implemented a very specific goal setting plan on how I could win.

The very first time I implemented this plan, I won my first event.

I know that the reason I won that competition was because I devised and implemented a very specific plan.

I have used goal setting in many areas of my life, including to achieve my career objectives. When I have used it faithfully, I invariably got better results.

For many years I used a written program from Success Motivation Institute, but more recently have been using a worksheets to goal setting. Check it out here.

This Guy Had a Plan Two friends were hiking in the woods and spotted a vicious-looking bear. One immediately opened his backpack, pulled out a pair of sneakers and started putting them on. His friend turned to him and said, "You're crazy - you'll never be able to outrun that bear!" "I don't have to," he said. "I only have to outrun you."

2. A Career Development Plan Will Increase Your Income

How could implementing a professional career development plan increase you income? The people who get paid the most in any field are usually the people who are the best in their field.

And the people who are best in their field are those who consciously use their innate, inborn abilities in their job. These inborn skills, are skills that you are naturally motivated to use and with which you were born.

One of the great benefits of implementing a professional career development plan is that the process should force you to identify your inborn job skills. If you haven't done this yet, you can't effectively implement a successful career development plan.

There is no other single way of more effectively increasing your income than by finding a job fit where your natural inborn abilities match the type of work you are doing. Many people try to do this without getting this critical foundation in place. Job frustration nearly always results. This is why many professionals build their profiles on Digger, in order to be matched with a career opportunity that is best fit to their inborn abilities and technical skills. (Go build your professional profile here)

The other way you will be financially better off if you implement a career plan, is through the money you will save by the simple act of planning ahead.

Achieving anything in life by planning ahead will result in cost savings compared to achieving the same goal without planning.

For example, let's say you were going on a holiday.

If you decide to have a vacation three months in advance and you plan your transport, accommodation and arrange other responsibilities to be taken care of while you are out of town, you will do it much more cheaply if arranged three months ahead of time, than if you do this only two weeks from when you leave.

With your holiday only two weeks away, you are much less likely to be able to secure better deals on accommodation and transport etc. And that next door neighbour who you were planning to use to feed your pets and look after your yard while you were away is not available at only two weeks notice. You really should have let her know earlier. You now have to arrange a last minute professional pet carer or pay for kennel charges.

And this type of last minute planning will cost you more in all areas of your vacation.

Applying this same principle to your career change, will result in more costs and a delay in realising your best income through things like failing to plan ahead for further education and relocating to another city if required to fulfil you career goal.

3. A Career Plan Removes Distractions

If you have written down your career development plan and are reviewing it on a regular basis, this forces your brain to become repeatedly reminded of your career objectives.

This proverb reminds us that:

As a man thinks, so he becomes.

This is one of the secrets of any successful goal setting plan. We set up a system that forces us to regularly tell our mind about something important to us.

If the mind focuses often enough and for long enough on any particular issue, that issue will begin to become a reality in our life.

In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it. -Robert Heinlein

4. A Career Development Plan Increases Your Self-Confidence

One of the wonderful benefits of implementing a professional career development plan is that your chances of realising your career goals dramatically increase.

One of the benefits of this is an increased self-confidence.

Self-confidence in your career, among other things, enhances your natural inborn job skills even more. When you combine your natural inborn skills with increased self-confidence, it allows you to push the boundaries just a little more than you otherwise would.

And pushed boundaries sooner or later result in more successful outcomes

The result of this is that you keep getting better and better at your chosen career.

It also means that those around you will see your competency levels rising. This opens up more opportunities for them to utilize your skills and for you to gain even more confidence as a result. And the cycle continues.

5. A Career Development Plan Allows You to Get There Faster

Whether your career development plan is a short 3 month one or a more lengthy five year career development plan it will allow you to achieve your career objectives faster. This is because of the increased focus and measurement of the journey towards the goal.

If you are constantly measuring how you are going in your career development plan, you will achieve it faster because whatever gets measured gets completed and faster.

Inspect, what you expect

And if you achieve your career objectives faster, a likely result will be to enhance your life balance in general. Other areas are more likely to be worked on simply because you have created more time for yourself.

Planning tends to help us clear the unimportant and time wasting activities from our life and gives us a sense of being in control again.

He who plans to fail is planning to fail - Winston Churchill

6. A Professional Career Development Plan Should Allow Room for Planned Happenstance

Some of your best chances in life will come from unexpected opportunities that you cannot see right now. There is an element of luck in life, but luck comes to those who are most prepared.

Chance favours the prepared mind. The more you practice, the luckier you become - Richard Branson

Planned happenstance is a career development theory about planning for unexpected opportunities.

Peter Drucker, one of the world's most respected business consultants of this century and author of 34 books, says that we should never box ourselves into a situation, where if an unplanned opportunity arises we would be poorly placed to take advantage of it.

I always tell my clients to begin the journey, to go down the road as far as you can see at the time and then you will see to go further, often in a slightly different direction than your career objectives were pointing. Despite the intricate steering equipment of a large ocean liner, it is totally unable to change direction unless the ship is first moving.

And that's the same for us. We can steer our lives a whole lot better when we are moving ahead. Go as far as you can go and you will see to go further.

I think back to a successful business that I started at the age of 23. One Saturday night while out getting takeaways, I saw an opportunity which ultimately brought tremendous financial prosperity into my life.

At the time I was pursuing a sales career, but fortunately I had a mindset that was willing to allow other opportunities to present themselves.

And the result was a very successful business.

So how does this fit with a career development plan? Quite frankly, it can be the very act of creating a professional career development plan that could well act as a catalyst to a great opportunity ahead.

One of the great side benefits of planning, is that it causes you to greatly expand your thinking of the goal you are working on.

As you write information into your career plan about your career objectives and the action steps that you will need to take, you are forced to clarify thoughts and ideas about issues that you could never have thought about otherwise.

This forced thinking on matters close to your heart provides an increased foundation of ideas from which new opportunities can attach themselves.