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4 Steps to Keep Your Career on the Right Track

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When most people start their career, they have dreams and high aspirations. But as they settle into the day-to-day life of a career professional, they may wonder if those plans are still on track - or if they should even still work to keep them on track. How can you assess your career goals and efforts mid-career? Here are a few steps anyone can follow.

1. Assess Your Progress

If you want to know how you're doing, you need data. Unfortunately, assessing your own work objectively can be difficult for most people. You may find that you either overplay or underplay what your career looks like and what you've already accomplished.

To help yourself be objective and thorough, write down your career path so far. Include all certifications, training, and experience you've earned in all fields related to your career. Focus on successes and achievements, but be realistic about where your career progress could use a boost.

2. Define What You Want

Once you know what you've done already, turn your attention to the future. What do you want to achieve in your career? Do you want to be a manager? Travel less? Travel more? Increase your work-life balance? Start your own company? Change to a new field either inside or outside your industry?

Goals and interests change over time, so regularly assess whether your wants and needs are still the same as the last time you did this exercise. Whereas you may have enjoyed putting in long hours at the office in the past, getting married, having kids, or caring for older parents may have changed your priorities.

Does the corporate or nonprofit environment still appeal to you? What has changed in your life recently and what changes do you still expect in the next few years? Align your goals with your real life. 

3.  Be Specific About Your Goals

Many people make the mistake of not being specific enough in their career goals or the steps to achieve them. Rather than stating that you want promotions, for example, determine when you would like to be promoted and to what position.

If you feel you've been stuck in one job too long, create a deadline for locating a new position. Vague goals are hard to make action plans for, but specific ones give you more control over the circumstances. 

Turning vague goals into more actionable ones may involve turning your goals into a series of reachable goals.

For instance, if you want to a promotion to an executive position, what steps do you need to complete before that happens? How long is a reasonable time frame? Do you need more education? Do you need to create a better resume? What additional responsibilities can you take on to prove your leadership skills? Should you get a mentor to help with the goal? You will achieve small steps easier.

4.  Create a Concrete Plan

You should have a variety of lists at this point detailing your skills, goals, and timelines. Now put them into an organized action plan.

You may want to begin by organizing goals into short-term, medium-term, and long-term. Further refine these categories by putting a series of related goals (such as steps toward getting that executive job) into a timeline. With each goal, brainstorm specific ways you can begin making progress as early as tomorrow. 

Looking back at your career path and forging a future path takes time and introspection. But this could yield a more rewarding work experience and reduce stress in all areas of your life. For help with all your evolving career needs, talk to the career experts at AAA McKinstry Personnel Agency & Resumé Service today. Together, we can get you - and keep you - on track.

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