I’ve been a marketing communications professional since—gulp—1990, working my way into various roles and industries over the past two decades. During my younger years, I always had my eye on my next goal—either the company that I wanted to work for or the person I wanted to work with. Then there were the mid-years of my career when priorities shifted due to family needs. Now, as I consider the next season of my career, what’s next? Where and how do I begin to plan? As I’ve reached a higher level of responsibility, it’s not as easy to map out the next phase that’s right for me.

Career planning is not an activity that should be done once and then left behind as we move forward in our jobs and careers. Rather, career planning is an activity that is best done on a regular basis. Today and tomorrow, Promotional Consultant Today shares these 10 tips from Randall S. Hansen, founder of Quintessential Careers, on how to help you achieve successful career planning.

1. Make career planning an annual event. Many of us have physicals, visit the eye doctor and dentist, and do a myriad of other things on an annual basis, so why not career planning? Pick a day or weekend once a year and schedule a retreat for yourself. Try to block out all distractions so that you have the time to truly focus on your career—what you really want out of your career and out of your life.

2. Map your path since your last career planning session. One of your first activities should be to look at your job and career path since the last time you did any sort of career planning. While you should not dwell on your past, taking the time to review and reflect on the path—whether straight and narrow or one filled with curves and dead ends—will help you plan for the future. Once you’ve mapped your past, take the time to reflect on your course-and note why it looks the way it does. Are you happy with your path? Could you have done things better? What might you have done differently? What can you do differently in the future?

3. Reflect on your likes and dislikes, needs and wants. Change is a factor of life; everybody changes, as do our likes and dislikes. Something we loved doing two years ago may not give us any pleasure now. So, always take time to reflect on the things in your life—not just in your job—that you feel most strongly about. Make a two-column list of your major likes and dislikes. Then use this list to examine your current job and career path. If your job and career still fall mostly in the like column, then you know you are still on the right path. However, if your job activities fall mostly in the dislike column, now is the time to begin examining new jobs and new careers.

4. Examine your pastimes and hobbies. Career planning is also a great time to examine the activities you like doing when you’re not working. Many times, your hobbies and leisurely pursuits can give you great insight into future career paths. Think you can’t make a hobby into a career? People do it all the time. The great painter Paul Gauguin was a successful business person who painted on the side. It wasn’t until he was encouraged by an artist he admired to continue painting that he finally took a serious look at his hobby and decided he should change careers. He was good at business, but his love was painting.

5. Make note of your past accomplishments. Most people don’t keep a very good record of work accomplishments, and then they struggle with creating a powerful resume when it’s time to search for a new job. Making note of your past accomplishments—keeping a record of them—is not only useful for building your resume, it’s also useful for career planning. Sometimes reviewing your past accomplishments will reveal forgotten successes, one or more which may trigger researching and planning a career shift so that you can be in a job that allows you to accomplish the types of things that make you most happy and proud.

Ready for more career planning tips? Read PCT again tomorrow.

Source: Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the web; he’s also CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, and founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books and hundreds of articles.