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How to Create a Five-Year Career Plan

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No matter what your current position, chances are good that you’d like to make some changes and advance in your career, or explore a completely new one, within the next five years. Setting a solid career plan is an important step in making the changes that you’d like to see in your life. Laying out each goal, as well as specific ways to make it happen, will make it much more likely that you will find yourself exactly where you want to be five years from now. A good career plan will also show prospective and current employers that you’re serious about your future, and motivated to take matters into your own hands.

Assess your current job situation. Determine with what aspects of your career you are happy, and those you wish you could change. Decide if there are certain daily duties you despise, and if there are parts of your work schedule you particularly enjoy. After analyzing your feelings about your current job, you may find that you feel you would be better suited to a different career entirely. You may also find that there are many things about your job you do enjoy with only a few small changes that you would like to make.

Make a list of short and long term career goals. Consider your individual skills, talents, interests and hobbies. Perhaps you feel that your customer service skills aren’t being utilized enough, and you’d like more face-to-face contact with clients. You man realize that your daily struggle with new technologies is a source of frustration that you would like to eliminate. List all the goals you have for your work life.

Assign a time frame to each goal. Some may be achievable in the near future. Others may require years. Many will probably lead to a series of goals that you must accomplish over time to reach your desired end result. If your ultimate goal is to have a managerial role, you may need to become a trainer first, then a supervisor.

Add specific action steps to your plan that will help you to achieve each goal. Jotting down that you want to become more comfortable with the new technologies being used in your department won’t do much to make this happen. Research classes or webinars that may help you become more familiar with these technologies. Make a list of classes that you want to take, then schedule a time to meet with your manager to discuss opportunities for pursuing this type of education.

Write a detailed description of your end goals for each year over the next five years. By the end of year one, you may want to have a few successful projects under your belt. As year two comes to a close, you might want to be promoted to a higher position, and so on. Be clear about the changes that you want to see happen, when they should take place, and what steps you will take to get where you want to be.


Update your career plan every year or two to make sure that you are on track with your goals and progress.

Let your boss know what your career plan entails, and how you plan to achieve each step. One of the most important steps in securing a promotion is letting others know that you’re interested in taking on more responsibility.