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Taking charge of your career by creating a strong and measurable development plan will position you as a leader and ensure that you remain accountable to your work. A development plan created in conjunction with your manager and supported by the company at large will help to keep you and your employer accountable to facilitate helping you achieve your goals. Developing a plan to measure and audit your success doesn't take very long but will provide guidance for the year ahead.
Setting goals for a good development plan is more than just stating what you'd like to accomplish in the next year. The goals and tactics should be discretely measurable so that throughout the course of the plan, it is possible to check up on progress and adjust priorities appropriately. Once your development plan is in place, it is also helpful to check on your progress every couple of months to make sure your work is on a trajectory that's going to meet or exceed your goals at the end of the year.
Align with Corporate Goals
One of the easiest ways to create a development plan that will impress your manager is to make sure that all of the work you're doing aligns as closely as possible with the corporate and departmental goals of your employer. If your department doesn't have published goals, or you don't know what they are, this is a great time to ask or take the lead to create some.
Provide Basic and Stretch Goals
When just having goals and tactics listed in your development plan isn't enough, consider placing emphasis on the goals that are a stretch for you personally or professionally. In order to keep yourself challenged throughout the year, having goals that are difficult to to meet will ensure that you are always striving to improve and exceed expectations. It is better to not meet a really difficult goal than to finish an easy one early in the year.
Jonathan Coffman has been writing lifestyle and technology articles for numerous publications and blogs since 2004, including PBS, eHow, and AnswerBag. He currently lives and works near Washington, DC. Coffman has a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.