Is your career developing the way you would like it to? Is it time to pick up the pace? Learn a new skill? Or even change jobs or career direction?

James Caan, a LinkedIn Contributor and serial entrepreneur, explores these questions in his article, How To Take Control Of Your Career And Learn To Move On. In his article he offers some good rules of thumb such as evaluating your progress every 6 months and looking to be advancing your position every two to three years.

But what exactly are you evaluating? How do you know if you are on the right career path? How do you even know what career path to be on? While it is easy to say you should evaluate your progress, most of us struggle to know what path we want to be on, what we need to do to get where we want to be and what good progress actually is.

What Mr. Caan is talking about is evaluating your progress against your Career Strategic Plan. If you don’t have a Career Strategic Plan it is difficult to say whether you are hitting your goals or not. In fact it becomes very easy to just let your career go with the flow and end up nowhere in particular. I call this having a career by accident. If you are not intentional in your career direction and path you cannot determine if you are on the right path or the wrong path. If you are achieving the success you want or not.

Career Strategic Planning

A Career Strategic Plan is a good place to start. A strategic plan is used by business to set direction and priorities to ensure that all stakeholders (owners, employees, etc.) are effectively working toward the same goals. A strategic is detailed enough to provide discipline in a world full of distractions yet is flexible enough to adapt to a changing environment. A solid strategic plan includes where a company is going, how it will get there and the metrics to know if it was successful. And since your career is a business, just like any other, you too can apply these principles to your career.

Now that you know you need a strategic plan, what do you need to do? While definitions may vary, here are the common elements of a strategic plan:

  • Values Statement
  • Vision, Mission and Purpose Statements
  • Long term objectives
  • Short term objectives
  • Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
  • Unique promise of value/Branding/competitive advantage
  • Competitive advantage: Your competitive advantage includes what you’re best at compared to the competition.
  • Key performance indices/metrics
  • Financial assessment of the business

One of the greatest benefits of creating a written career strategic plan is that you gain great clarity. Even if you just write a few short sentences for each topic, you will gain a greater understanding of where you are and where you want to go. The strategic planning process works well for billion dollar companies and it will work well for the Business of You.