Getting started

There are some important things you should do when thinking about your next career move. Everyone's goals are different and not all of these steps will apply in every situation. Choose those that will help you the most.

Setting goals

Top athletes, successful business-people and achievers in all fields know the value of setting goals.

Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn your vision of this future into reality. Discuss your goals with your friends and family (and your mentor if you have one) and think about short-term and long-term goals. Read more about goal setting at Mind Tools: Personal goal setting – planning to live your life your way.

Know yourself and know your strengths

Knowing yourself means understanding the factors that inspire you to achieve something substantive and relevant. Create your own personal vision statement, your own personal 'why?'

Identify your values, the contribution you want to make, and how you want to live your life. Make notes to keep track of what you are good at doing – record your successes. Record small wins – this is essential for building your own confidence as well as developing crucial leadership competence.

Need to help to work out what's important? These questions may help you create your own vision statement:

  • What drives you? What are you passionate about?
  • What do you believe are the most important areas for your career development?
  • What areas have you already invested in and what were the outcomes?
  • What areas are you focusing on now?

Forbes: Leadership – Five most effective ways to invest in your career may also help your planning.

Never stop learning  - Understand who you are, what you want to achieve and what skills you need to reach your goals. Be aware of your strengths that allow your skill sets and capabilities to thrive and make an investment in them. Seek out training opportunities that will help you reach your career goal – be proactive.

Plan for the future

When developing your plan, ask yourself:

  • Where am I now? 

  • Where do I want to go? 

  • Where do I want to be one year from now? Five years from now? 

  • What things do I need to change from where I am right now to 
get where I want to go? 

Take control

You need to take control of your own destiny and act on your convictions. Know what you want, and why, and be prepared to take action to make it happen. 

Above all, don’t give up! Stay resolute in your values and goals and remain determined and self-disciplined in your efforts to achieve them.

Find a mentor

Find a mentor who can provide candid and constructive feedback about your work. You need to have someone with expert knowledge in your area who you trust and who you can turn to when you have questions about the work you do. Ideally, this will not be someone who will be in a position of evaluating you: this may hold you back from the things you need to learn.

Invest in the right relationships

Spend time connecting with key people and nurture these relationships. 

Identify a role model

Think about the people who inspire you the most and identify their key attributes. Then think about whether they are relevant to your situation.

Find a champion or sponsor

Find someone in your organisation who will champion and promote your work. A good sponsor can proactively help you to advance your career. They are usually a senior person who will connect you to senior leaders within or external to the organisation. They can promote your visibility, give advice on career moves and help you to find career opportunities.

Learn to take risks

Taking risks builds resilience and self-confidence. Be visible, appear confident and present your ideas to your peers. Be decisive and to the point. Set goals that stretch you to develop new skills. Join committees and take on a leadership role. View mistakes as learning opportunities.