There was a time when five-year plans were all the rage. But that was when workers could still count on signing up with a company for life. In the warp-speed world of technology, five years is an eternity. So how is one supposed to map out one’s career when the business landscape is always changing?

Firstly, a plan is useless, but planning is still essential. Instead of a five-year plan, try formulating a five-year vision. In that way, workers can chart a course they would like to follow. For example, today I am on the team; in two years, I would like to be managing it; in three years, I would like to relocate to build a new team in a new market; and in five years, I would like to be coordinating a group of international organizations. Just keep in mind that the course will almost certainly change.

Secondly, workers should not confine their career projections within the framework of their current companies as they did previously. Instead, they should understand that while it is beneficial to set the goal of being a supervisor in five years, you might need to move to another company in another country to achieve it. Construct a portfolio of your achievements and market yourself by including your personal goals along with your career goals. It is important to include financial planning, as one can not rely on employers ‘plans to manage one’s money.

Thirdly, workers should identify employment-related characteristics regardless of other factors. The key to planning is for workers to upgrade their skills and stay relevant in the job market.

Fourthly, employees should make their plans incremental and somewhat aggressive, which is very much the case in creative fields such as design and architecture. Creative people take the initiative rather than wait and should not require direction. But even the most innovative businesses are businesses at heart. So, a career plan for a designer or decorator should include delving into the business side of projects.

In general, workers must first decide what particular path they wish to take, and then proceed down that road ambitiously, scooping up opportunities when they appear. Use long-term plans as guides, but they become precarious if followed too rigidly.

Set your goals. Map out a plan. Create a vision. Then six months later, be ready to rethink these objectives.

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