There are few things as important as having a career development plan when it comes to excelling in life and accelerating in your chosen field.  It is important that you have a clear sense of the direction you would like to head with your career. Career planning is a critical step in your success not something you want to leave unattended.

The purpose of a career development plan is to help you reach your goals.  Everyone has aspirations in life and specific levels they would like to reach. Part of the planning process actually entails you developing specific career goals and mapping out a course on how to best reach them. To do that, you must determine what is important to you. You may or may not have an idea of what you are looking for in terms of a career, but nobody knows you better than you and putting those strengths and weaknesses to the test can help you get to where you want to go.

Although there are many things you can do to help advance your career, here are 7 easy and simple ways to get you started down your road to success!

  1. Identify your greatest strength. Be very specific – what distinguishes you from other people with the same strength? Write it down. If you aren’t sure, talk to some people who know you best and be open to what they might tell you.
  2. Develop your 30-second “elevator pitch”that describes and differentiates you. Practice it until you can say it proudly and smoothly.  This How to Give a Flawless Elevator Pitch Article
  3. Set a goal for one specific thing you want to have happen in your career. Write it down; Display it in a place you can see it every day.
  4. Promote yourself: Tell your manager or an influential person about one of your recent achievements or ideas. Do so verbally or in writing. It’s ok to “toot your own horn!”
  5. Find a networking event to attend outside your comfort zone and RSVP. Commit yourself to meeting one new person when you go.
  6. Identify one lesson you learned from a mistake or failure. Write it down and identify one thing you will do differently next time.
  7. Volunteer or ask for a risky assignment, project or job. This will help increase your visibility at work and demonstrate the value you bring.