A Simplistic, Minimalist Approach to Mapping out Your Career Ambitions

Admittedly, establishing a successful professional career can be an extremely challenging task. In addition to the long process of acquiring relevant professional credentials, you still have to worry about your competition.

The fact of the matter is, every single career is increasingly competitive because all players want to be the best in their industries. There’s no question about it.

But, it goes without saying that only a handful will make it to the top. These are the few that strategize accordingly, commit to their career paths, and capitalize on every single opportunity they get.

So far, research has proven that professional growth is driven by a holistic learning process. Apart from on-the-job lessons, you need social, as well as formal education. Combined, experts call this the 70-20-10 model.

In essence, 70% of your career development comes from job experiences. 20%, on the other hand, is triggered by your social engagements along the way. Then perhaps unsurprisingly, formal learning contributes 10%.

What does this mean for you?

Well, for starters, your professional growth depends on multiple variables. Not just your academic qualifications. It’s a continuous cycle of experiences, with new lessons at every stage.

Now, to get the best out of every experience, you need a well-structured career development plan. It’s critically important to map out your career ambitions so you have a clear path to success.

Here is a simplistic minimalistic approach to achieving that.

Reflect On Your Past

The past always defines the future. So, you should begin by assessing your career past, from where you can proceed to plan the future path.

Think of how and where you started your professional journey. Then consider the subsequent successes as well as the failures you’ve gone through. You might also want to reflect on the instances where you nearly won or lost.

By recollecting such experiences, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of your current growth curve. Try to identify the strengths you can capitalize on, as well as all the weakness you should work on.

And while you’re at it, pay keen attention to the lessons you’ve learned through the years. They’ll come in handy in the future.

Before committing yourself to a specific path, take time to analyze the current job trends. How well is your industry doing? What are some of the developing opportunities? Can your career withstand the test of time?

Evaluating such factors should help you come up with a feasible and realistic growth plan. You’ll also identify the type of credentials and competencies required at every single level.

A quick market assessment of a career like project management, for instance, will reveal that you need the credentials – Professional Management Professional (PMP) – to be recognized accordingly. And since that can only be issued after passing a certification exam, an aspiring project manager can plan ahead by looking at relevant PMP study materials.

Come Up With a Personal Experience Plan

A personal experience plan defines the journey you’d wish to take in the next 2-5 years of your professional career. More specifically, it should outline both functional and management experiences that will ultimately drive growth.

Functional experiences here entail stuff that proves that you’re indeed exceptionally skilled at something. They could demonstrate your competencies in research and development, marketing, customer service you name it.

Management experiences, on the other hand, are meant to show that you can effectively maneuver tricky situations. If your functional experiences intend to prove that you’re great in marketing, for example, you could include management experiences that demonstrate your abilities to work with a low budget.

That said, consider using this “SMART” approach to establish solid experience goals:

  • Specific – Be very specific by setting up clear goals.
  • Measurable – Ensure you can track and measure the goals to assess your overall progress over time.
  • Attainable – Each goal should be realistic and attainable, with a 50% chance of success at the very least
  • Relevant – Every single goal should be critical and relevant to your overall career ambition.
  • Time-bound – Determine a reasonable deadline for each goal.

And when it comes to the actual implementation process, remember to abide by your plans over the long haul. That means staying focused even when you face difficulties.

Meanwhile, as you plan everything, we wish you luck in your career endeavors.


Kenneth W. Boyd

Kenneth W. Boyd is a former Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and the author of several of the popular “For Dummies” books published by John Wiley & Sons including ‘CPA Exam for Dummies’ and ‘Cost Accounting for Dummies’. Ken has gained a wealth of business experience through his previous employment as a CPA, Auditor, Tax Preparer and College Professor. Today, Ken continues to use those finely tuned skills to educate students as a professional writer and teacher.

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