This article is the 5th and final in a series covering the necessary steps for creating a career plan.
Well…you’ve got a Career Plan, complete with Career Objectives, long term and short term goals. Do you feel accomplished? You should. It’s uncommon in the business sector for someone to take the time and effort to plan their career in advance…even more so among those who choose a career in the arts. You’ve gone beyond the norm, taken steps to take what control you can of your career as a writer. That’s pretty terrific.
So, what’s left?
It’s an incredible accomplishment to develop a workable career plan, but it does you no good if you never refer to it again. It’s like organizing your silverware drawer and then using plastic cutlery so it won’t get messy again. It looks nice, but what value does it have for you?
So, how do you stay on track?
It’s a matter of revisiting your goals frequently, updating your objectives as circumstances or priorities change and keeping the final goal ‘ your vision ‘ firmly in mind. There are opportunities you will want to take advantage of in order to pursue your goals and others you will say no to, realizing the effort expended will not take you forward in the direction you want to go.
In other words, track your progress and filter your activities through your career plan.
You can track your progress in a number of ways. I’m a list maker and list ticker. I write down each week and month’s goals and then tick them off as they are accomplished. A woman who took my career planning class said that she draws a big thermometer with marking for each achieved goal toward the long term goal (i.e. finishing a book) and fills in the thermometer with each goal achieved (like chapters written). There is goal tracking software you can buy and a host of other ways to track your progress. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just that you do it.
Filtering your activities through your career plan can be challenging. It means saying no to some things that could be fun, but not necessarily beneficial. Analyze the time you currently spend writing. If you are doing things that will not take you forward in meeting your career objectives, consider setting those activities aside. Sometimes you have to be ruthless with yourself and even on occasion, others.
If you have five hours a week to write, spending part of that keeping up on various e-loops might be detrimental to your goals. Yes, there’s a lot of good information out there, but you have to find balance between your writing and keeping tabs on the industry. The more limited your writing time, the more ruthless you need to be with yourself in regard to superfluous activities.
Finally, I’m going to close this series of articles with an observation. Just as writers rarely stick with the original synopsis for their book, so do people rarely stick with the original version of the career plan. It’s a place to start, a way of keeping yourself on track, but it is not a leash to hold you back from pursuing something better should it come along. The best career plan is dynamic in nature and a constant reflection of the individual’s current desires and priorities.