Make a plan to plan your career

by Jun 9, 2022

How to plan your career piece by piece

If you plan your career you’re more likely to succeed

That sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Make a plan, to plan your career. But it’s not really. 3Plus research shows that many women fall behind their male colleagues by failing to create an overall career strategy and then a plan for their careers. We plan vacations, our social lives, and menus in the minutest detail, and largely leave little to chance. We put our cars in for an annual service and go to the dentist and doctor for regular smears and mammograms. We go to the hairdressers and some at the more luxurious end have mani-peds, and even massages on a regular basis.
We spend 1842 hours a year in work factoring in 5 weeks’ holiday per year. But the very activity we engage most of our lives doing, we frequently ignore. Totally.  Many don’t bother to set time aside to think about what they want to do with their careers and then how to make that happen.
So it makes sense if you fall into that category, to schedule planning your career in your busy schedule. We are so busy, we have to make a plan to plan!
plan your career

Annual:  Create an overall vision

Set aside a few hours, maybe a whole day, to plan your career. Even call it career planning time. It can be during a massage, on a walk, or another peaceful moment. It’s important to give it significance in your calendar. Make it special and tell anyone in your life this is important “you” time. Ask not to be disturbed. Establish the process as a regular event at the same time of the year, so that it becomes an annual or bi-annual ritual known to those close to you. If the kids, your colleagues or your partner tease you about it then you know that it’s a well-embedded habit. Ignore them!  They will respect you for it.
The American Psychological Association suggests:
“High-level construal’s led to decreased preferences for immediate over delayed outcomes, greater physical endurance, stronger intentions to exert self-control, and less positive evaluations of temptations that undermine self-control”
You got that right? In everyday language that translates into “dream big, plan small.”
Set goals for the year. Make sure you put a financial tag on your ambitions and the items that are important to you. Being “happy” adds up to become quite expensive if it involves moving house, attending conferences, learning new skills, travelling or joining a sports club.  Make sure you are financially literate and understand the monetary implications of your choices. If you are part of a couple you will probably want to do a joint and congruent career plan.


Set a calendar reminder or an alert to review your monthly goals. What do you hope to accomplish in that particular month? Could it be to network, write a report, complete a project, get up and move every hour, prepare a healthy meal, finish a book, have lunch with friends or spend time with your kids? It doesn’t matter. [Tweet “Write those goals down.”] When things are written down, as Steve Maraboli says:
“If you have a goal, write it down. If you do not write it down, you do not have a goal – you have a wish.”

Read: Lack of career planning hurts professional women


This is the hard part. How do you incorporate those wider goals into the vast number of tasks you have on your plate on any one day?  A simple way is to set another alert or even to allocate some moments before you start your day to decide what you are going to achieve. We will all have different “best moment” to do this. I prefer the early morning, but that may not suit everyone.  Will this stop you from procrastinating totally? Not at all, but it will reduce the number of things you postpone indefinitely.

Time management

Many women will claim “no time”.  I don’t buy into that.  The first place to start is to check your device addiction. Do you take your device to the bedroom and have alerts coming in constantly? One client in the financial services sector reduced the amount of time she checks her smartphone by a mere 20% and cut off all alerts. She set aside specific times to respond to business emails. This freed up 30 minutes in her day. That is 3.5 hours a week which aggregates to 7 days a year.  Yes…. wow!!
The average person according to Tanvi Guatam spends more than 10 days a year on social media! Now, do you have enough time?
If you struggle with planning your career – put the process of creating a career plan into your schedule, like you would any other commitment, a business meeting, date, dental appointment or manicure. It’s not rocket science. But you do have to start!

Not sure where to begin? Download 3Plus’ career refection worksheets and get a kick-start!

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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