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Five immediate wins from creating your own career plan

career development career goals coaching professional development work life balance Jan 09, 2023

If you work in the arts or creative sector, you are more than likely a freelancer, contractor or working in a mid or small to medium enterprise. This gives you great flexibility and freedom, but you can miss out on some of the benefits of corporate life.

While perks have been cut in recent times, some of these benefits remain: like paid leave, staff subsidies and a group of people to buy you cake on your birthday. Another is a HR manager that ensures everyone has a professional development plan.

In the best cases a professional development plan is a chance to review with your manager your goals, how they align with the organisation, and the opportunities for you to develop your skills, knowledge and networks. In the worst cases it is a tokenistic response to HR requirements, with no real meaning. 

The benefit of creating your own plan is that you are not stuck with meeting others' expectations and goals and have the freedom to create a strategy that meets your personal goals and objectives.

Here are some other great reasons to spend time this new year on creating your own steps towards a more satisfying and sustainable working life.

You gain focus on the important but not urgent matters.

Career development is a bit like exercise. We need to plan for it to happen rather than rely on sprinting to the bus or being chased by a wild bear. Having a plan, milestones and accountability can bring attention to our own needs in the midst of busy lives. 

Without a plan you are at risk of pulling a hamstring and missing an opportunity or being someone’s snack.

You will quieten your mind and feel better about life. If you have a tendency to worry about work and the future, a simple plan with a few strategic steps can give you some much needed ‘headspace’. Not having a plan can have you constantly flip flopping on whether you stay or go in your current role or chasing over anything that seems interesting. This is a sure trip to rejection land and feeling out of control. You may not have the whole big-picture plan worked out, but even resolving your short-term career goals can give you some much needed clarity and peace of mind.

You can choose between opportunities and distractions. We are all attracted by bright shiny objects. When your job feels a bit stale or frustrating, any offer can be attractive. A career plan, founded in your values and goals gives you a framework in which to assess these opportunities for their true worth. That includes courses, conferences and workshops as much as new job offers or promotions.

You will see that you have moved forward towards your bigger goals. The best thing about having a written down career plan is that you have something for you to regularly review. Not in an obsessive way, but as a tool to see where you have moved in a given space of time. Checking in every few weeks keeps focus and builds momentum. It is better to achieve a couple of key objectives rather than try to do everything or give up and do nothing.

Your career is your responsibility. At the end of the day, the only person who is responsible for your career development is you. Not your boss, your mentor, your business partner or your collaborators. All sectors are seeing less long-term roles and more ‘gig-based recruitment and employment strategies. So more than ever it is your role to stay on top of your professional development and work/life satisfaction.

If you want to know more about how I can support you in your career development contact us Judith Bowtell of Albany Lane is an executive coach offering workshops, mentoring and coaching to individuals and organisations in the arts. Her background includes more than 20 years experience in arts strategy and policy, in funding and cultural agencies, as well as leading small arts organisations.

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