I have a family member who some people suggest is rushing her career. It seems that when you talk to her and ask her about her job, you not only get a picture of today, but you often see a glimpse of tomorrow.  She is always thinking about her next position at the company and, in fact, she might also admit that she is thinking two to three positions ahead as well. In my mind, she’s not so much rushing her career but thinking strategically about her career.

If you want to sit back and let your current employer, or your industry, dictate your career path and the pace of movement forward, you have a fair-good chance of being successful.

If you sit up and take control of your career by thinking strategically, you will have an excellent chance of being successful.

When I talk about strategic planning to organizations, the formula is very simple. Analyze the current state, visualize the future state and plot the path from one to the other. Interestingly, most organizations do this very well. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you would know that my current passion lies not in the planning of strategy but in the execution of strategy and this is where organizations typically fail.

But when I talk to individuals about strategic planning around their career, it is a very different story.  Execution of the plan is not the problem. Creating a plan is the problem. This concept of thinking strategically about your career, thinking 3, 5 or even 10 years out is foreign to most of us. But it shouldn’t be.

Successful people have a goal in mind. Successful people have visualized the ultimate position in their company or their industry or even elsewhere, well before they get there.

If you haven’t thought strategically about your career lately, maybe it’s time.

Analyze the current state. Where are you now, what are you doing, what are your strengths and weaknesses, what are your major assets in the professional world, who are your important contacts, etc.

Visualize the future state. Where do you want to be, who with and when? What are the options you have open to you?

And then, plot a plan to get from one to the other. What training do you need? Who do you need to connect with? What are the gaps in your current state that need to be filled in order to get where you want to go? What positions should you seek out in the interim in order to better prepare for the ultimate goal?

I know too many people out there who wish they had approached their careers differently. We all know people who hate their jobs, and this is very sad. So many people just let the day-to-day grind, obligations and commitments drive their lives.  But it does not have to be that way.

It’s not too late, get in the driver seat now. Start thinking strategically about your career.

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